Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kit Kemp creates crushworthy beds (3/4)

The signature piece of furniture in any Kit Kemp space has to be the bed—particularly the headboard—and those profiled in her latest book, Every Room Tells a Story, do not disappoint. Suffice it to say, I’ve got a big crush on these dreamy beds.

Kemp’s headboards are big, statement-making pieces, generally padded and upholstered to match or coordinate with custom bedding. Some are curvy, some are channel-tufted, some are appliqued, some are screen-printed, some are embroidered, and some are a collage of several embellishment techniques.

Many seem to be stories in themselves, finessed by a trusted network of skilled artisans and textile artists. Even when they’re simply fabric, they’re far from simple. The fabric is killer gorgeous, and the finishing details escalate it to elegant.

Here are my favorites from the book, though a search of the Internet or the website of Firmdale Hotels, which Kemp co-owns with husband Tim, will conjure up even more dreamy eye candy.


Conquering her fear of beige


Simon Brown

“I am more afraid of beige than any other colour,” Kemp admits. “I prefer to travel a more adventurous route.” But this bedroom in a Ham Yard Hotel apartment proves she even knows her way around that neutral too often synonymous with bland. This beige bedroom is anything but!


Simon Brown

Kemp starts by wrapping the room in Treescape by Bennison—a wallcovering that emulates an early spring forest but in wintry sepia tones. Late winter casts long shadows through mostly bare branches; buds are forming. The only color used is the turquoise of the bird eggs in nests placed in intermittent trees and a red thread woven into and dangling from each.


Simon Brown

The three-arched headboard—fully beige—is embellished with pussy willows by textile artist and interior designer Pippa Caley. “It is always an adventure to see what she will do next,” Kemp says. “She works in layers, ‘sketching’ onto fabric, over which she then screen prints, collages and then embroiders to create unusual and innovative fabrics. Her work is intricate and yet looks deceptively simple—always a sign of great talent.”

I love, first and foremost, that pussy willows are the subject of this bespoke fabric. Its tones run from grays to browns to rusts, which the draperies accentuate. I also love the color running through the two striped throw pillows. The result is an incredibly restful bedroom I’d just love to wake up in every morning of winter, looking for signs of spring!


Ethnic threads with a British twist


Simon Brown

Blue with red accents crop up a lot in Kit Kemp interiors. Here she swathed the undulating curves of this headboard in an intricately handwoven fabric by the London Design studio of A Rum Fellow, who’s also responsible for the bespoke throw pillows. Nailhead trim, as well as pops of red throughout the room, give it a military dash. 

And isn’t the upholstery on that foot-of-the-bed bench unique—a red leather quarter-panel against Teasel Herringbone? Kemp used Manuel Canovas fabric for the armchairs and Jim Thompson’s for the curtains. The whole room seems to snap to attention, albeit British Colonial-style, with its mix of ethnic textiles.


Simon Brown

Red kick pleats show up again in another suite featuring ethnic textiles. A Turkish kimono framed in Perspex repeats the reds and the zigzags found in the Navajo-inspired headboard fabric, called Sacred Mountain and designed by Ralph Lauren. I love the concave curves of the headboard before it fans out on top. The double rows of nailhead trim really make the outline pop.


Simon Brown

A smaller version of the same headboard profile presides over this bedroom at London's Number Sixteen townhouses. Designers Guild Ombre wallpaper tricks the eye so that ceilings appear higher. Kemp used William Yeoward’s Khalana for the headboard and Orisso for the curtains. Those red kick pleats in the bedskirt, as well as the red piping on the tie-dyed throw pillows, give the room just a touch of British vibe.


Wooly bully


Simon Brown

Kemp created this room for Somerset House as part of Wool Week 2014, and its design has since been adapted to a room at Covent Garden Hotel. Everything in the room that isn’t wood, stone or metal is made of wool, down to the London scenes by Anna Raymond above the fireplace, created on wool canvases. Wing chairs are covered in one of Kemp’s fabric designs—Book End.


Simon Brown

The sofa is upholstered in another of Kemp’s designs, Willow, printed on a soft wool, which was also used for the draperies in the previous photo), but in black and white.


Simon Brown

Pippa Caley (who did the pussy willow headboard) embellished the throw pillows and the smoky white wool headboard in this room with jewel-tone applique, embroidery and collage.


Cat scratch fever 


Simon Brown
This headboard in Suffolk Suite at Haymarket Hotel has to be my favorite of the lot because, of course, it’s cats! Though not just any cats…


Simon Brown

Japanese artist Kumi used hand-blocked fabrics and old kimonos in its design. The cat’s spots resemble Americana penny rugs to me. I love that the claws are different colors!


Simon Brown

Looks to me like this two kitties are doing what kitties do best—scratching! In this case, they’re marking this beautifully appliqued tree. I don’t blame them. I’d like to claim it (and them!), too.

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