One of A-Gent of Style‘s highlights at the Sleep event last week was the Sleep Hotel.

Sleep Hotel, dubbed “the catwalk of hotel design”, brought together some of the hotel industry’s best-known designers with several newer names that are making their mark on the sector. The event this year challenged five design companies to create a concept for an imaginary hotel working to a particularly demanding brief. These design teams collaborated with fit-out specialists and product suppliers of their choice to build their concept for Sleep Hotel, which was staged in a designated area in the Business Design Centre.


Sleep Hotel 2012

Sleep Hotel

This year, the brief was inspired by the widespread interest in, and nostalgia for, the 1960s, and was asking designers to ‘redesign’ each one life-sized hotel junior suite in a fictitious hotel originally built during the heyday of ‘Pop Art’, translating the radical spirit of this cultural movement into a contemporary experience that is relevant today, and ultimately transforming Sleep’s catwalk of hotel design into a radical contemporary Pop Art experience.


An exciting added dimension to Sleep Hotel 2013 was that the Barbican, London’s leading multi-arts venue currently running a major exhibition Pop Art Design until 9th February 2014, joined forces with Sleep. As a result, the Barbican exhibition curator, Catherine Ince, was invited to join the judging panel including Andrew Baker of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Conrad Smith, Managing Director of ReardonSmith Architects. A-Gent of Style had the privilege to meet Ince that day and will publish the fascinating interview next Monday.

At 16.45, a seminar entitled ‘The Sleep Hotel – Designers Present’ invited the leader of each design team to pitch their project to the three judges who then made their comments as the competition reached a climax.

The place to be and be seen was the Sleep Hotel Bar, part of Sleep Hotel, which was exclusively designed by NOUS DESIGN. The bar was open throughout the event but  it was also the meeting point for a late networking night on Wednesday and where the results of the Sleep Hotel competition were announced.

This year’s concept was a serene oasis. The eye-catching bar itself suggested a peaceful, sun-dappled lake in its organic form, with a rippled surface gleaming under illumination. The source of this lake sprang not from the mountains but from an oversized tap that flowed with champagne! A-Gent of Style tested the functionality of the bar and tasted the goods, all for professional purposes, of course, and can report the design was a complete tour de force.

NOUS DESIGN is an interior design practise based in London, specialising in high end hospitality and residential design services. With a highly creative and dynamic team, they aim to deliver tailor-made bespoke designs for each project whilst exploring unique and innovative concepts adding value to each project. And they certainly came up trumps with this incredible bar.

Prior to the unveiling, NOUS DESIGN said: “We are developing a flowing structure in a continuous form which expresses the confluence of new hotel design ideas, products and services that is synonymous with Sleep. The structure will identify the bar as a place to gather and draw people in. On one side, it will jet towards the conference theatre and on the other it will act as the portal to Sleep Hotel, achieving a strong connection between the two spaces while creating a pavilion and a social platform for the entire event.”

The imposing structural and architectural metal sculptures on the wall that coiled and curled, with lasered flower cut-out designs, were rather striking and elegant.

At 7pm, visitors and participants were then invited to join Barbican exhibition curator Catherine Ince and the two other judges in announcing the winning room set.

And the winner was (drum roll):

The winning design by Cullinan Interior & Infinite Architects, whose room featured inspiration from Ken Adams’ set design for Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, and included elements of surprise such as interstellar fractal-inspired artwork.

“We never thought we would win this – but of course we hoped!”, confessed the team. ” We had two weeks to design and two weeks to produce it – finishing was for us the prize. But when we saw the finished product we really thought, this is a strong commercial project we have. We tried to create a new, unexpected guest experience. We divided the room asymmetrically to clearly define the different areas – sleep, dress, informal dining, chill out, bathe.”

“To capture the spirit of the 1960s Swinging London”, the winners explained,
“the challenge for Cullinan interior and Infinite Architects was re-thinking the typical guest room configuration to deliver a revolutionary guest experience through a contemporary interpretation of the Sixties counterculture that questioned the political, social and moral values of the time.”

So huge congratulations to Cullinan interior and Infinite Architects for designing this pop-static room.

And here are the other four participants’ room sets:

The Hickson Design Partnership is a London & Turin Architecture
and Interior Design practice specialising in Hospitality and High End Residential Projects.

Purpose Design creates memorable and dynamic interiors for the hospitality and leisure sector, based in the UK and the Middle East their understanding of the sector spans many cultures.

Kelly Hoppen Interiors is a multi-award winning design studio founded by
British designer Kelly Hoppen MBE.

Squared Interiors is a joint venture between Angelo and Andrea. Between them they bring over 20 years of design industry experience into play, applying a genuine flair for interior design with considerable passion and attention to detail.

Complimentary drinks were also served throughout the venue and too-cool-for-school Michaelango L’Acqua, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Soniq – was on the decks playing a live DJ set on the fabulous, slickly designed Evoni DJ table, ‘Apollo’, on the main show floor.

Launched in May 2013, the british designed and built Apollo is a custom made music workstation that brings functionality and style together in a clean, cable-free environment. The Apollo uses an arrangement of coloured, stacked blocks to provide a dramatic sculptural effect. The equipment frame is customised to fit the latest technology perfectly flush in the design. Design Director Rob Hodge said, “Our aim was to excite and inspire the interiors world with the Apollo and in doing so, raise the design profile of high end DJ furniture”.

Ettore Sottsass would have probably approved of this groovy design.


Today’s subject is less contemporary (we are going back three centuries) and slightly more scholarly than Monday’s (see A-Gent of Style‘s review of the new and fascinating exhibition on fashionista Isabella Blow) but it concerns another tastemaker who hopefully will be equally appealing to you all.

On Monday, A-Gent of Style was delighted to be invited at lunchtime
by Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler – the distinguished interior design and decoration company – to a Press Preview at their legendary offices on Brook Street, W1 for a special exhibition organised between them and The Georgian Group commemorating the bicentenary of James Wyatt (1746-1813), one of the most accomplished and fashionable English architects of late 18th century, and celebrating his life, career and achievements in furniture, interior decoration and architecture through some of his most important projects such as Windsor Castle, Fonthill Abbey, Goodwood House, Heaton Hall, Castle Coole
and Heveningham Hall.

 “James Wyatt: Architect to the Crown and Designer of Complete Interiors” opened on Tuesday to the public until December, 6 (Monday-Friday 9.30am-5.30pm, free entrance so no excuse) and will be hosted at the Sybil Colefax & John Fowler headquarters, 39 Brook Street, London W1, a rare surviving Grade II example of a Regency house, in the very same house altered and extended by James Wyatt’s nephew and pupil, Jeffry Wyatt (later Sir Jeffry Wyatville). After being used as a ballroom later on, the upper floor gallery was then redecorated in the late 1950s by the legendary John Fowler as a drawing room for Nancy Lancaster, the then owner of the company, resulting in the iconic ‘Yellow Room’.

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It is always exciting to go to Brook Street; A-Gent of Style hadn’t been back since last year but still marvelled at each of the beautifully decorated rooms replete with truly exquisite furniture and objets as he made his way upstairs
to the ‘Yellow Room’. The room has been specially transformed for the exhibition but still has the ‘wow factor’: as soon as you step in, the high-gloss lacquered yellow walls give you this feeling of wonder and awe. And the yellow silk curtains are simply ravishing.

Designed specifically to complement the interiors Wyatt created at
Heveningham Hall, a selection of pieces of furniture are the focus of this collaborative exhibition designed by George Carter, and thanks to the generosity
of English Heritage, chairs, tripod flower stands, demi-lune tables, torchère and mirrors are on display for the first time in thirty years (the furniture was acquired by the government in the 1970s when Heveningham was sold by the Vanneck family) and it is a delight and a privilege to such beautifully crafted objects.
Their neo-classical refinement and delicacy (there are some clues to Gothic Revival too) bring freshness and seeming simplicity. It is worth noticing that much of Wyatt’s furniture was painted rather than carved and gilded, enhancing its delicate originality. And the palette of pastel colours and their combinations are magnificent (green and blue being one of them).

1778 chair by James Wyatt

1778 chair by James Wyatt

“Many of Wyatt’s furniture designs for Gillows passed into the hands of George Hepplewhite, a Gillow employee” explains the Georgian Group. They were published posthumously by Mrs Hepplewhite without any acknowledgment of the true designer. This plagiarism helped to immortalize the Wyatt style of neo-classical furniture design, as Wyatt himself never published his own work”.

Other items such as Wyatt’s original working drawings, sketches, engravings and some silverware made by Matthew Boulton (a couple of tureens) are on show as well as twelve modern watercolours of Wyatt interiors by Royston Jones, which are for sale. There is also a spectacular architectural model of Fonthill Spendens still in great condition. And if you have a close look at the model, you will see a small fountain in the courtyard. Don’t miss it.

Silver designed for Matthew Boulton

Silver designed by Wyatt and made by Matthew Boulton

To further your interest and knowledge about James Wyatt, three special lectures have been conceived to complement the exhibition:

21st November 2013 – Lecture / From Wyatt to Wyatville: an Architectural Dynasty, by Charles Hind, Chief Curator at The Royal Institute of British Architects

25th November 2013 – Lecture / James Wyatt, Furniture Designer, by architectural historian Dr John Martin Robinson

Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start at Colefax & Fowler, 39 Brook Street, London W1; £20 to include a pre-lecture glass of wine, which can be book by calling the Colefax Group Press Office on 020 7493 2231 or by email

The exhibition is curated by Dr John Martin Robinson, an architectural historian and foremost expert on the Wyatt architectural dynasty. He is the author of a recently published and beautifully illustrated book, James Wyatt, Architect to George III, which has received great critical acclaim and will be on sale during the exhibition. Also on sale are postcards and tea towels featuring designs of commissions and furniture by James Wyatt. Perfect stocking fillers for Christmas!

Thanks to this fascinating, informative exhibition and series of lectures,
James Wyatt is given the recognition he highly deserves.

Make sure you attend!

– All photographs of the exhibition and the ‘Yellow Room’
by Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler with the Georgian Group –


This week promises to be full of exciting projects, events and invitations
for A-Gent of Style who will be revealing the various subjects that are enthralling him in the course of the next two weeks.

Last weekend, whilst flicking through a magazine, A-Gent of Style came across a photo of Lady Gaga, circa 2010, arriving at a party with a diamond-encrusted lobster headpiece. A-Gent couldn’t help thinking that, whilst the popstar did turn heads wearing said crustacean on her head, there was nothing new, surprising or original about this statement. It had been done before. To be precise, it was in 1998 at a Julien Macdonald’s London Fashion Week show that the Surrealist and Dali-esque ornament had made a first apparition on the head of the incomparable Isabella Blow.

The late fashion editor and stylist Isabella Blow, who started her career as
Anna Wintour’s assistant at US Vogue then worked for Tatler, British Vogue and the Sunday Times Style as editor before returning to Tatler as fashion director, is being honoured in a new exhibition at Somerset House 
aptly named Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! in partnership with
the Isabella Blow Foundation and Central Saint Martins.

Curated by Shonagh Marshall and Alistair O’Neil, and styled by Amanda Harlech, this retrospective of her life and career, starting this Wednesday until March 2, 2014, will provide an intimate portrait of a formidable woman throughout 500 odd pieces from her wardrobe, and reinstate her legacy and its significance after her untimely death in 2007 (she drank a bottle of weedkiller after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and suffering from long-term depression; her seventh suicide attempt in fourteen months proved to be fatal).

Due to her extravagant taste and insatiable, passionate approach to life, Issie, as she was known to her close friends, had accumulated an impressive and expensive collection of clothes – which left her impoverished most of her life – which was bought in its entirety in 2010 by her long-standing friend Daphne Guinness, another iconic muse of the fashion world and art-director of the exhibition.

This intimate portrait of the eccentric Blow will represent many models and designers whose career Blow helped launch: Sophie Dahl, Stella Tennant, Hussein Chalayan, Julian Macdonald, Viktor & Rolf, John Galliano and of course her protégés Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen.

Blow was presumably misunderstood by many and unfairly represented by the media as a flighty, provocative enfant terrible of fashion living in a fickle, airy-fairy world, which would probably explain why Blow used her outfits as a protective armour to protect herself from the outside world. 

It is not only the sensational collection of clothes, arguably one of the most important private ones of the last twenty years, nor the legendary figure’s timeless and inimitable style that are the focus of Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! but it is also aimed as an appreciation and re-evaluation of her wonderful spirit, her fearless and original character and also her bigger-than-life and somewhat tragic life, away from the limelight, the smeared red lipstick and the ostentatious headgear that became her trademark. 

As she turned up one morning at the Standard Hotel in Los Angeles adorning unselfconsciously another outlandish outfit of hers with an equally ostentatious headpiece, Isabella is quoted to have said “I don’t understand, everyone keeps saying, ‘Where’s the party?'”.

Unfortunately, most of us will not have had the privilege to go to a party
with ‘La Dame Bleue’ (as McQueen’s S/S 2008 collection dedicated to the memory of his dear friend was called) but at least Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! will provide us with a profusion of theatricality, style and ingenuity from a bona fide maverick.

Jeremy Langmead talked about employing Isabella Blow
at The Sunday Times Style Magazine and her incredible work as a fashion editor.

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