Interior designer Kit Kemp’s London

Interior designer Kit Kemp’s London

This write-up is part of a guide to London from FT Globetrotter

The most effective ways to discover London are by walking and biking. I could stroll via the town for hours, together its very little streets and byways, marvelling at the assortment of interesting architecture. The United kingdom money is a assortment of villages waiting to be learned, each individual with its have person character. I notably appreciate the lots of expert outlets and attention-grabbing marketplaces across the town, and I like to catch a glimpse as a result of the windows of people’s properties: the facades that line our streets can be nearly similar, however each interior is exceptional and tells its possess tale. As a designer, considerably of my do the job is about respiration new life into outdated properties or supplying character to new ones, and my innovative process relies upon very substantially on my surroundings and using in my town.


I wander to perform each individual working day alongside Exhibition Street in South Kensington, with the Victoria and Albert Museum on one aspect and the All-natural Background Museum on the other. These two structures give substantially enjoyment to so many people today both architecturally and simply because of their incredible exhibits and educational lectures. The Normal Historical past Museum, opposite our design and style studio, is Alfred Waterhouse’s Quality I-listed terracotta-clad masterpiece. It opened in 1881 and is renowned for inspiring creating design that celebrates the pure world. Creatures carved into the walls feel both mythical and authentic. My children used to engage in in the gardens when they were being at college nearby. They acknowledged it as part of their childhood and I hope will be affected by it constantly.

The front of London’s Natural History Museum
Kemp’s style studio is opposite London’s Purely natural Historical past Museum © Shutterstock/Coward Lion
A statue of Alfred the Great in Southwark, south London
A statue of Alfred the Great in Southwark, south London, which was co-restored last 12 months by the Heritage of London Have faith in (HOLT), of which Kemp is a trustee © HOLT

I enjoy looking up and observing the beautiful architectural facts that make London so special, from stained-glass windows to statues and fountains. I’m very significantly influenced to do so by the work of a charity that is near to my coronary heart, Heritage of London Have faith in (HOLT), for which I am a trustee. It is an unbiased heritage charity, established up in 1980 by the Better London Council to rescue historic structures and monuments. The projects are in each and every London borough and are various. On HOLT expeditions you are frequently granted obtain to destinations you would never generally be permitted in. I frequented Alexander Pope’s grotto beside the Thames in close proximity to Strawberry Hill, Twickenham. It is concealed less than a busy primary road, where by it when would have been nestled in stunning countryside beside a house that is now demolished. It is in the process of considerably-desired renovation.


London is a jewel box of creativity. The ideal place to obtain slicing-edge layout is at the CAA (Contemporary Applied Arts), on Paddington Avenue in Marylebone, for craftspeople and a blend of different objects for the property. Commissioning artists and makers to generate bespoke parts for my individual property and the motels I style is a luxury for me. I treasure parts that are touched by someone’s hand and infused with their coronary heart, holding an inherent which means much further than obtaining one thing off the shelf. It is necessary that we preserve a feeling of humanity in almost everything we do.

Furniture and a wall textile in The New Craftsmen showroom in Mayfair
The New Craftsmen showroom in Mayfair — Kemp’s go-to location for ‘great pieces of British craftsmanship and unique design you will not find anyplace else’ © Jasper Fry

I really like to check out The New Craftsmen at 34 North Row, Mayfair, for fantastic parts of British craftsmanship and person structure you will not locate wherever else. I also usually test to go to the Royal Academy’s summer time clearly show each individual 12 months I particularly take pleasure in looking at the students’ perform and meeting the artists of the upcoming.

As a designer my greatest inspiration is textiles — natural and organic parts, remnants, colourful threads, historic or up to date, vibrant or monotone, linen, wool, dyed or pure. I really like them all. I often go to The Fabric Store on Portobello Street for attention-grabbing pieces of boiled wool.

Jean Nouvel’s 2010 summer months pavilion for the Serpentine gallery © Dennis Gilbert-Look at/Alamy
Last year’s Serpentine pavilion, designed by the Johannesburg-based Counterspace Studio
Last year’s Serpentine pavilion was made by the Johannesburg-based mostly Counterspace Studio © Goddard on the Go/Alamy

1 of my favourite parts of London are the green areas that extend throughout the city and url alongside one another like a necklace: Hyde Park, Eco-friendly Park and St James’s Park. I like observing the summer time pavilions being created each individual 12 months by diverse architects exterior the Serpentine gallery in Kensington Gardens preceding designers have integrated Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry. They are erected each and every spring and there is generally excitement when it is about to be opened in June. Absolutely everyone has a distinctive impression and wildly various kinds are created.

Foodstuff and flowers 

The interior of the River Café
The River Café: ‘Magical in the two the summer months and the winter’ © Richard Bryant/Arcaid pictures

We are extended-phrase admirers of the River Café, the Italian cafe on the Thames that grows refreshing components on its terrace. It’s magical in both equally the summertime and winter season. Some of my favourite dishes are the wild mushroom risotto and the Dover sole — and the Chocolate Nemesis cake! A lot of of the world’s most effectively-identified chefs spent time in the kitchen there with owners Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray, so you usually feel like you found them initially.

We like Japanese foodstuff and Engawa, which is element of Ham Property Village and reverse our Ham Garden Resort in Soho, is regular and authentic. We have their fantastic bento containers, which are served with these types of class and artistry. They appear and taste wonderful.

Kemp likes to head to Columbia Highway Flower Industry in east London on Sundays © Aleksandr Faustov/Alamy

Columbia Road Flower Market (on Sundays) has an abundance of flowers all in just one road. It’s a treat to take in the excitement of the stallholders. Flowers are a fantastic way of right away introducing color to a area. I like popping into the wonderful artwork galleries in Shoreditch as perfectly, this sort of as Blue Mountain University, a store, gallery and remarkable dining expertise all in just one.

Kit Kemp is founder and innovative director of Firmdale Resorts and Package Kemp Design Studio

What’s your favourite London walk? Notify us in the reviews

Cities with the FT

FT Globetrotter, our insider guides to some of the world’s greatest metropolitan areas, features professional assistance on eating and consuming, physical exercise, art and society — and a lot additional

Uncover us in London, Tokyo, New York, Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, Singapore, Hong Kong and Miami