As usual during the festival the installations, amazing structures in their own right, lead you through the museum and responded to their immediate environment, encouraging the viewer to look at their surroundings differently.
Our Designer Nichola recently visited the Speed & Style exhibition at the V&A – a fascinating exploration of the feats of engineering, high design and intrinsic glamour of transatlantic travel in its heyday.
The exhibition showcases some of the spectacular interiors created with no expense spared for the design-conscious, first class passengers on board, their sophistication and opulence worlds away from today’s cruise ships.
These interiors were beautifully decorated in the style of their period, most prominently Art Nouveau and Art Deco, employing highest quality materials and craftsmanship.
Accommodation on the First Class decks included ornate wood panelling, hand painted murals and superb bespoke textiles and carpets such as this 100% wool rug and section of carpet created for the Queen Mary by Glasgow company James Templeton and Company for the Stateroom and Drawing Room. These carpets were created in-house and made to the highest specification.
Children’s chair from the first-class playroom on French ship the Normandie.
Opulent doors and panelling (circa1912) from the France, the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique’s largest ship.
Violets are naturally on the feminine side of the spectrum and work best when paired with concentrated golds and yellows in restrained amounts. UV is the perfect accompaniment to areas filled with rich cream backgrounds that need a warming uplift.
This playful trumpet style lamp by Delightfull shows just how well these tones mix.
Masculinise violet by contrasting against black or slate. Keep metals to dull or brushed golds and bronze whilst adding natural wood elements for a soothing harmony, as shown in the following image.
If the prospect of Ultra Violet partitions and spaces feels rather overwhelming, then stick to blocking the colour to fixtures, fittings and accessories, rather than pasting it on the walls.
The Strappo and Silenzio encased washbasins by Domenico de Palo and shown here finished in violet, is a perfect example.
Decorative cushions with Ultra Violet undertones (V&A for John Lewis) , simple iridescent glass vases (Habitat) and striking violet patterned fabric by Melo Design are great ways to introduce this energy on a less permanent (and imposing) way.
Lockdown has made us value our museums and galleries more than ever and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is one of our favourites.
We thought we’d explore one of their most fascinating exhibits, the oldest dated carpet and one of the largest and finest displayed anywhere in the world, the Ardabil Carpet
It is one of the most important objects in the V&A’s Middle Eastern Collection, and is the centrepiece of the Jameel Gallery of Islamic art, displayed on the floor in a specially engineered case created to conserve the carpet for at least the next 500 years.
The carpet is incredibly delicate and needs careful preservation, which is documented in the fascinating film below.
The display case makes sure dust and dirt particles are minimised and includes insect traps to ensure moths and other pests detrimental to the carpet are kept at bay. The carpet is lit for 10 minutes every half hour to preserve its rich colours and the effect of this minimal light on the carpet is carefully gauged. Opening the case is an intricate operation involving a hydraulic lift.
It was made in the town of Ardabil in north-west Iran, the burial place of Shaykh Safi al-Din Ardabili, who died in 1334. The Shaykh was a Sufi leader, ancestor of Shah Ismail, founder of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1722).
While the exact origins of the carpet are unclear, it’s believed to have been commissioned by the court for the shrine of the Shaykh, which, by the 16th century, had become a place of pilgrimage.
The carpet can be dated exactly due to an inscription woven in its edge date, 946 in the Muslim calendar, equivalent to AD 1539 – 1540.
The wool carpet is extremely dense, an astonishing 5,300 knots per ten centimetres square (compared to 100 knots per square inch on a Deirdre Dyson hand knotted carpet) This allows for a mind bogglingly intricate level of detail in the complex, bordered design featuring a central medallion, different sized lanterns, arabesques and foliate detail typical of carpets of the period.
There are 10 dyes used in the design, these create ‘Abrash’ a naturally occurring variation in shade due to the slight differences in dye batches which is unique to hand made carpets and even more apparent in a carpet of this scale. It is well documented that Middle Eastern carpets were deliberately imperfect, reflecting the belief that perfection belongs to God alone.
The carpet has been part of the V&A’s collection since 1893, prior to that it was documented as still being in the shrine of Shaykh Safi al-Din in 1843 – it was sold when an earthquake struck the shrine in the late 19th Century. Inspecting the carpet on behalf of the V&A, prior to acquisition designer William Morris reported it of “singular perfection … logically and consistently beautiful”.