A DECORATIVE GARDEN OF EDEN: CRESSIDA BELL’S CHRISTMAS OPEN STUDIO








Last Saturday, A-Gent of Style travelled to Hackney in North London to attend Cressida Bell’s Christmas Open Studio. A-Gent has always been very much aware of the artist and designer but also Charleston House in East Sussex and of course Bell’s famous lineage, so without hesitation, he enjoyed a jaunt to Clarence Mews,
“a bucolic enclave in the heart of Hackney”.




A-Gent of Style was thrilled not only to see for the first time under one roof the colourful, bold and highly patterned artefacts Cressida Bell is renowned for but also to meet the designer and visit the enchanting studio where she works her magic.




Cressida Bell is a direct descendant of the major members of the Bloomsbury group; her grandmother was the artist Vanessa Bell and her grandfather the critic
Clive Bell, her great-aunt Virginia Woolf and her father, the critic, author and artist Quentin Bell. Bell studied fashion and textile design at St. Martins School of Art followed in 1984 by an M.A in textile design from the Royal College of Art.
Despite being exposed at Charleston to paintings, painted walls, stained glass and textiles all designed by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and being unconsciously influenced by the Bloomsbury artists, Cressida Bell has managed to forge her own identity and style and has drawn her inspiration from many sources such as African and Indian cultures.




The studio is everything you may have imagined and much more. It felt a bit like being in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul with its exquisite eclecticism and richly embellished, contrasting patterns and vibrant colours. The overall look and aesthetics of Cressida Bell’s style is also somehow reminiscent of René Matisse,
Jean Cocteau or Cecil Beaton designs who too liked to paint the surfaces of their surroundings and created unique and original pieces of art.

Just as imagine Charleston House to be (A-Gent has to admit he has yet to see the iconic Sussex country retreat of Bell’s well-known Bloomsbury Group forebears.
A road trip last summer was aborted but it is now at the top of the 2014 resolution list), every inch of the studio is decorated or covered by something; painted doors, furniture or clocks, bespoke rugs, sketches, drawings, invitations, announcements illustrations, cookery posters, plates, fabric shreds, test sheets, paint pots, brushes and printing screens. That weekend, there was a plethora of tantalising treasures all for sale such as hand-painted lamp stands and shades, stationery, greeting and Christmas cards, and Bell’s ten-metre long printing table – Bell screen-prints herself – was strewn with silk, wool or cotton scarves, ties, cushions. And last but not least, her ready printed sheets of icing and eye-popping, edible cake decorations – Bell’s latest artistic pursuit – were on display (and feature in her book Cressida Bell’s Cake Designs: Fifty Fabulous Cakes.)




























































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LEARNING HIS STRIPES: PAUL SMITH & THE DESIGN MUSEUM






Today’s recipient needs little introduction. Most of you will have instantly recognised the image above and will have, at one point or another, held a bag or a gift box adorned by this iconic pinstriped barcode with its trademark rainbow of multifarious colours that is universally associated with the signature logo of …




Paul Smith‘s illustrious career and exceptional impact on the world of fashion and retail is the subject of a much-anticipated exhibition this winter
at the brilliant Design Museum in London.

“Hello, my name is Paul Smith” is a major retrospective opening on Friday until March 9, 2014 that will give a comprehensive insight into the five decades of the British designer and retailer’s world, influences, achievements and working methods.


Due to the huge popularity and influence of the designer (his empire is represented in 72 countries), the exhibition is likely to appeal to a broad audience and break visitor figure records – and even the Design Museum’s own records as it already celebrated the designer in 2001 with its ‘True Brit” exhibition.




The rich visual experience curated by Donna Loveday (she of the museum’s hugely successful Christian Louboutin show last year) will take the shape of a long corridor and will chart the designer, retailer and businessman’s career throughout various media (music, photographs, artifacts, projections, films, soundbites) and approaches such as these:




a display of Sir Paul’ Smith’s daring sartorial creations from collections selected by the designer himself dating back to his first show in Paris in 1976 up to today
(the company shows an impressive fourteen different collections every year), personal archives, hand-drawn sketches and other inspirational elements that make Paul Smith’s mind tick and creativity flow, a reconstruction of Smith’s first humble 1970 shop in Nottingham famously measuring three metres square, a makeshift version of his current studio and a room dedicated to the paraphernalia he’s received from his adoring fans throughout the years, most probably from Japan where his fan base is huge.








Another area will also be devoted to his architect wife Pauline whom has had a huge influence on his work, another one will showcase the unique design behind each of his stores accompanied by selection of jewellery, books, artworks, antiques, objets and curiosités that typically complement the clothes, and of course his great, whimsical collaborations ranging from cars (Rover’s Mini), cameras (Leica) and rugs (The Rug Company) to water bottles (Evian) and bicycles (Rapha) – Smith aspired to a be a professional cyclist until a road accident crushed his dreams when he was fifteen – and a special feature giving the visitors a glimpse into the brand’s future projects.






From his impeccably smart and tailored menswear and womenswear, his inventive approach to fabric, colour and pattern to his principles of traditional craftsmanship of tailoring and techniques with a contemporary edge, and his ‘English eccentric’ twist and Brit-wit style,  A-Gent of Style has been a huge admirer of Sir Paul Smith and looks forward to entering this world of “creation, inspiration, collaboration, wit and beauty” that epitomises the man behind one of the most quintessential British labels and leading fashion brands in the world.



Paul Smith stores – interiors and exteriors

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Paul Smith Spring/Summer 2014 collection

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Paul Smith objets and collaborations

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A Channel 4 interview





A BBC interview






During the run of the exhibition, the Design Museum will be hosting a series of exciting events such as Paul Smith Instagram Takeover, Live Twitter Q&A with Paul Smith and Sophie Hicks on Designing for Paul Smith.








A book “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” published by Rizzoli will be published to coincide with the exhibition



 

 

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