“I am more and more convinced that it is far the most beautiful place I ever saw”, is what botanist and explorer Joseph Banks said about Piercefield Park and he’d certainly been around a bit. Piercefield Park estate overlooks the glorious Wye Valley, Wales, and previous owners had begun to turn it into the picturesque landscape of national repute which had so impressed Banks. It’s current owner is Arena Racing Company, run by the Reuben brothers. Ruined and forgotten in a field next to the Chepstow racecourse is Piercefield House, one of Sir John Soane’s earliest projects, which he built between 1785–93 when his architectural career was just taking off.
So, my beauties, there we were, on the deck of the MS Stubnitz, late of Hamburg, now come to Canary Wharf, the icy air seeking out our exposed flesh, surrounded by all manner of weird creatures, some with the smell of seamen about them, but many from Worlds strange and unfathomable. We found ourselves in the midst of a great rumpus of noise and commotion, at once assailed and bewildered by the desperate voyage now embarked.
Gentle reader, we saw three genuine mermaids, sirens of legend and lore, their tails flecked with the colours of the deep, their heads and breasts home to corals and anemones of every kind. They sang too, in slight Estuary tones, but passable nonetheless for they must have rehearsed it under water.
While Boom Boom is on vacation, Café de Paris has been taken over by this new production featuring some BB members. Last Friday saw the final show for the Black Cat’s opening cast, so I went along to see them off.
The fluted columns and velvet-lined interior of the Café de Paris evoke the days of Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Noël Coward, a sympathetic environment for the Black Cat Cabaret. Front man Dusty Limits, in Montmartre mode, does his irrepressible best as ‘Maître des Cérémonies’ for a slightly naughty but mainly nice lineup of London’s established cabaret acts.
It was in the middle of nowhere, a dusty track off the coast road from Torre Canne heading up to Savelletri, a few large tents stuck together and a portacabin. L’Oasi del Riccio wasn’t pretty, it didn’t have a view to die for nor did it offer a fine dining experience. Hell, it didn’t offer solid walls. But who cares? It cooked me the freshest seafood in an unpretentious Pugliese style and served it straight to my plastic table parked next to an azure sea.
Raw squid was delicate, sweet, good texture and tasted very fresh. Good swordfish carpaccio, meaty flavour, lots of olive oil.
British interior and product designer Lee Broom has has designed over 40 bar and restaurant interiors across the UK, has won a whole bunch of awards, and The Times called him ‘The pin-up of British manufacturing’ not too long after he formed his own company in 2008. So, without further ado, here is the talk with the slides that he presented at PK9:
Lee Broom at Pecha Kucha London [podcast-slideshow-youtube thing]
Lee takes us through his childhood in Birmingham, dramas at the Royal Shakespeare Company, college at Central St Martin’s, having Vivienne Westwood as a mentor, undressing Kate Moss, designing bars, setting up his own design company and exhibiting at Milan. Whew!
Designersblock 2012 is happening right now, underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, until this Sunday 23rd September. These are my iPhone photos. (This page is in progress until I get quotes from the designers. If you know any of them, tell them to email me!)
Designersblock is about to celebrate turning 15 years old at London Design Festival 2012 with a birthday party in a little-used space underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall and sundry other corners of the Southbank complex, including the Royal Festival Hall shop.
You are all invited.
Rory Dodd: ‘I always liked the Southbank; it’s a real crossroads kind of place. It’s got Londoners and it’s got tourists. It’s busy, multicultural, with a really wide mix of cultures and ages coming here or passing through.’
Thomas Heatherwick and his team of architects, designers and makers work from a studio in King’s Cross, just down the road from this year’s Global Design Forum for London Design Festival 2012. Here he talks about about the process of creating, designing and then executing three large scale projects: the Olympic cauldron, a New Bus for London, and the Shanghai Expo Seed Cathedral.