Layered London Interiors by Kit Kemp : Charlotte Street Hotel

Kit Kemp, Design Director of Firmdale Hotels, is known for creating spaces that grab your attention and leave you longing to linger. She is the master of the quintessential boutique hotel, curating hyper-customized environments where contrast and layering are essential, and art and antiques have a strong presence. With eight hotels in London and a few spots in New York City, her unique vision continues to expand.

I had always wanted to visit a Kemp-designed hotel, so while visiting London we planned a high tea at Firmdale's Charlotte Street Hotel with my husband's aunt and uncle from Switzerland. His "tante", Michele, has great taste and has introduced me to some great designers like Sarah Lavoine, whom herself has designed gorgeous boutique hotels in Paris.

We enjoyed the tea service in Oscar Bar, a vibrant, mural-lined room that gives a nod to a time in English history when authors like Virginia Woolf were active. I was in awe of the attention to detail that went into the concept of the space, making it unique to this hotel alone.

Kit collaborated with Wedgewood for a series of tea cups, saucers and pots with motifs pulled from "Mythical Creatures," a pattern she originally designed for Chelsea Editions, a textile collection celebrating the rich tradition of English embroidery.  I appreciate her ability to see a clever motif and play with its application in new ways, from an embroidered cloth to a quaint tea cup. 

After tea, my husband's aunt and I introduced ourselves to the manager of the hotel and he kindly gave us a tour of the common areas and main suites. He generously spent over a half hour sharing insight into Kit's design philosophy and attention to detail and her low-key, friendly relationship with her employees. 


Kemp is committed to an awareness of where her products are made and contributes to the communities in which artisans reside. She is also focused on reviving skilled craft from local workshops in England. Her young daughters even jumped into the design of the Charlotte Street Hotel with the idea to take scraps from all of her projects and have a local studio make patchwork animals with them. We took home two adorable puppies for our children made from the remnants of some of my favorite fabrics. 

Galbraith & Paul's textiles, one of our favorite Philadelphia-based textile lines, were used on several chairs in their cozy den and library.  

The rooms we toured were just gorgeous and personally touching, as they featured many lines that I consistently use in projects; companies who are not just design partners, but also friends. For instance, the grand headboard in this room was covered in "Fathom" by Christopher Farr Cloth, a line that Kit has collaborated with for some of our go-to fabrics.

Each guest room showcased the power of layered graphics and textures, bound by a common thread of color. 

As the hotel manager continued our tour, I pointed out several appearances by Seema Krish textiles and told him of our close relationship with the phenomenally talented San Francisco-based designer. He told us he's preparing to move to New York to manage a new Kit Kemp designed hotel where Seema's fabric will also be featured! 

Upon our glimpse around the accommodations at Charlotte Street Hotel, it was clear that no two rooms are alike - each fabric finds a unique application in a layered conversation of color, texture and print. As Kit has so appropriately named her book, "Every Room Tells a Story." 

A Visual Journal : Paris Déco Off + Maison & Objet

The Lotus Bleu Team kicked-off 2017 with an exhilarating, albeit chilly, trip to Paris where we visited two back-to-back design events: Paris Déco Off and Maison & Objet. 

During the five-day span of Paris Déco Off, textile showrooms opened their doors in celebration, revealing their newest collections alongside a slew of festivities and release events. To commemorate, the merchandising game came out in full force. Convivial displays incorporated elaborate color schemes and conceptual assemblies showcased the newest textiles coming into the market. It was a time to go big and push the limits. For example, as we walked down an idyllic Paris street, we were drawn into a room filled with nothing but tangerine parrot figurines ensconced in fuchsia and white patterns! The Jim Thompson showroom was one of our favorites, where a towering foo dog peered out onto the street, fashioned out of cloth and passementerie, looking ready to pounce!

A cheerful workspace vignette at Larsen stopped us in our tracks. The encapsulated scene payed homage to the creative process - mood boards and inspirational images layered upon one another and a worktable piled high with finish and textiles samples, the tools of our trade. 

The scene inside the showrooms was cozy, lively and energized. Spirits were flowing, literally and figuratively, as visitors gathered around the fresh, new collections and took note of what 2017 has in store. 

We ran into some friendly and familiar faces along the way, including the team from UK-based Christopher Farr Cloth textiles, a Lotus Bleu favorite. A sneak peak into thier new woven collection has us anxious to use these stunning fabrics as soon as we can!

After spending a few days exploring the intimate vibe of the Paris Déco Off, we took a day to venture out to the Maison & Objet trade show. Inherently dynamic, positively overwhelming and loaded with excitement, the show brought together intriguing designers from across the globe, providing a snapshot of their work. 

Despite the acreage at hand, we managed to traverse enough territory to spot some jaw-dropping goods while gaining insight of what's up-and-coming. The stand-out trend we latched onto was the varying shades of green, from mint to malachite, jade to moss. 

Even this colossal pop-up bar + eatery was ripe with cascading greenery. A nod to the Pantone Color of the Year, perhaps? We would've loved to stick around for some avocado tartar (aka, guacamole) and cocktails, but after such an inspirational workout, it was time to retire to our hotel.

An Afternoon in Paris


As Californians, we were slightly intimidated by the idea of Paris in the middle of winter, but by the time we made our way through a series of memorable shops, restaurants and sights, we nearly forgot about the chill. Our first stop of the afternoon was Colonel, a spirited and dynamic design shop founded by Isabelle Gilles and Yann Poncelet in 2012, and located just off the Canal Saint-Martin. Beyond the green-blue, heavily glazed storefront lies a smart curation of Scandinavian-inspired goods in an array of energized hues and creative textures.

We recognized a few new offerings (and new colors!) from some of our favorite lines while getting to know the selection of lighting, furniture and objects designed in-house. Colonel's creations mix natural materials, bold graphics and exuberant colors, elevating everyday objects, like a turned wood bowl, to the extraordinary. 

We recognized a few new offerings (and new colors!) from some of our favorite lines while getting to know the selection of lighting, furniture and objects designed in-house. Colonel's creations mix natural materials, bold graphics and exuberant colors, elevating everyday objects, like a turned wood bowl, to the extraordinary. 

Next, we crossed over the Saint-Martin Canal, stopping to watch the resilient ducks huddled on the icy water while pedestrians strolled along the waterway in the afternoon sun. The tree-lined canal is flanked by numerous shops and restaurants and we longed to come back on a summer day to enjoy some outdoor dining.

It's hard to tell how much time we spent at our next destination, Artazart Design Bookstore. Name a niche in design and Artazart has multiple cutting-edge books on hand to provide insight. From packaging design in Japan, typography trends, color theory for web design, DIY home renovation guides, cookbooks from superstar chefs, to rising fashion markets around the globe, this shop will keep you up to speed and full of knowledge and inspiration.

Naturally, the Lotus Bleu team fell deep into the rabbit hole while digging into the textiles and decorative arts section. "Look at this! Look at that!," we exclaimed, giddily bouncing our favorite finds between one another. This repetitious pink and red fruit motif was of particular interest to Jeannie, whose last name (Fraise) is French for "strawberry"!

Our minds now dizzy with design inspiration, we decided to come up for air and headed over to Pause Cafe, located near the Place de la Bastille. Pause Cafe hit the mark on all levels; exceptionally fresh and modern French dishes, bountiful warm energy and an interior that captivated us throughout the meal. 

The design of Pause Cafe harmoniously integrates centuries of decorative features. Crisp white, classical details line the ceilings and frame time-worn pastel paintings of delicate florals and gliding birds. From the aged ceilings, warm glowing light extends into the dining area through a combination of rugged industrial pendants attached to creative wiring channels and radiating frosted globes. Coarse mosaics sprawl underfoot, adding a jagged counterbalance to channeled banquettes and curved wood chairs. Cafe stools at the mirror-backed bar pull out the lone burgundy from the flooring palette and marry with bold mediterranean blue legs. Finally, hardened tile and concrete walls are draped in lush, flowing plant life, softening-up otherwise cold materials. Pause Cafe was a perfect nest of toasty respite and comforting cuisine, a great way to cap off an afternoon of exploration in a charming pocket of Paris.