Tag Archives: Inchbald Alumni

David Harber’s Eaton Square Event

The hottest day this summer found me walking with David Harber through the gardens of Eaton Square to view his spectacular new collection, this time of garden sculptures.   It was a wonderful venue made available to him by the late Duke of Westminster.   The garden planting, the immaculate level of upkeep both went towards an impressive backdrop to sculptures, mostly of metal, conceived to provide particular interest in a garden landscape at once both empathetic and dramatic.

One piece, a pierced ball of bronze petals, each petal gilded on the inside, created an extraordinary effect of captured sunlight and last Wednesday was certainly the right day to appreciate the inventive skill of its author. This piece, called Mantle, can be lit from inside creating a shimmering and evasive light effect in the darkening twilight.   Another ball, made of tiny flat obsidian stones, has been seen at Chelsea, devised as a fountain, the water sliding evocatively across the stones so that the obsidian is presented with a permanent soft gleam.   Another similar model has a quarter lined out of it like a ripe fruit, the new surfaces lined with mirror to conjure and delight the eye.

David Harber’s Eaton Square Sculpture

It was a privilege to be escorted round such an exciting exhibition by David Harber himself, surely the Grand Master of his profession in every way.

Find his work on his website. Forget the bust of Ceres and the Grecian urns; invest in a work of Harber’s art to intrigue and provoke all who visit your garden.

Jacqueline Duncan,Dean

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Andrew Duff: How to make the most of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Marcus Barnett, Inchbald School of Design

With the RHS Chelsea Flower Show just around the corner I would encourage you to visit if you can.  This year the RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 23rd – 27th May 2017.  Chelsea is the main event in a garden designer’s calendar and a rich source of inspiration.

As with any great show it is essential to plan ahead.  The RHS Chelsea website is excellent for this; it lists all the individual show gardens, their designers, a drawing of the garden and the plant lists.  It also lists all the main exhibitors from the garden furniture stands right through to the nurseries in the main marquee.

My plan of action is to print off the map well in advance:  this gives me an opportunity to plan a route through the site.

I start with the main avenue and those jaw-dropping show gardens, then work my way through the main marquee for a little light relief where I look at the nursery stands before embarking on the smaller gardens, the exhibition stands, and finally the gardens set amongst the woodlands.

Serena Fremantle, Inchbald School of Design

Don’t forget the gardens are not always as they might seem; lots of the show gardens have their plants forced in heated glass houses or held back in a refrigerator so you can never be sure that the planting combinations you see are realistic.  Instead look at flower shape.  A few years ago Luciano Giubbilei’s blood red peonies and bronze fennel were amazing, this can easily be reproduced with roses or other round flower shapes with grasses.

Make sure you grab a plant list. 

The designer or a member of their team is often on the garden and there is always the chance to ask them questions. That is what they are there for!

Watch for colour trends – last year’s brilliant-white and plum-red stole the show.  The year before acid greens and pale blues worked their magic.  Check out quirky ideas such as different mulches, different path edges and other innovations.  Look at style.  There is often a certain style running through the show; last year it was very strong and proud, all making a statement.  This year I predict an altogether softer approach.

If you have not been able to beg or borrow a Chelsea ticket this year, all is not lost.  The RHS website is still worth researching and you can get tickets for the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, which although it doesn’t have the same kudos as Chelsea, it is equally interesting and informative.

5 Minutes With Henrietta Spencer-Churchill

What influnces Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, one of the UK’s leading interior designers and an Inchbald alumni?

My mother was artistic and I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by beautiful architecture, and I think that influenced me more than anything else.

Prior to arriving at the Inchbald School (age 18), I had lived in Florence and Paris which developed my love of European architecture as at that time I was studying History of Art and Languages.  It was a very good grounding as I knew I wanted to continue in that field but I was not certain of exactly what I wanted to do.  When I got back to London that summer I was adamant that I did not want to do a secretarial course, as many of my friends had, which is when I turned to thinking about interior design and applied to do the  Inchbald course.

I was passionate about interior design and the motivation from the tutors at Inchbald helped me to excel.  Following my time at the school I got my first job with Diana Hanbury; this was the perfect opportunity for me as it was a small company which allowed me to get exposure to clients and projects as Diana threw me in at the deep end.  This installed a lot of self-confidence which has been vital in this industry.

My current practice Spencer-Churchill Designs and Woodstock Designs, was started in 1981 with a shop in Woodstock and an office/studio in London. I often have interns from The Inchbald but also try to nurture and develop local talent from the community.  Whilst I still take on commissions in London and worldwide ( I have a US company also Spencer-Churchill Designs Inc)  I have built a reputation specializing in then renovation and refurbishment of listed properties, which hails back to my upbringing at Blenheim and my love of the Georgian era.

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Do You Need A Degree To Become An Interior Designer?

The foundation of a pioneering centre of design education has involved much determined enthusiasm and perhaps a benign ignorance in terms of the pitfalls that accrue over the years in any endeavour.   Over some sixty years of involvement in this absorbing subject I have learned a great deal about the requirements of design education and the practice of the profession.   Thus the basics of the Inchbald philosophy have been refined over time and can be summarized under these six main headings which are the stated aims of the college.

It is the Inchbald responsibility:

  1.   To provide a professional education for those who wish to work in high-end Interior Design or Garden Design
  1.   To teach the skills of ongoing learning so that students continue to extend their knowledge both culturally and technically after the Inchbald experience.
  1.   To inform students of the Designer/Client relationship and to identify the psychology of empathy in such a relationship
  1.   To expose students to the experience and perspectives of senior Designers
  1.   To encourage work experience so that students may learn the realities of studio work and methodology
  1.   Finally to develop the individual skills of each student with emphasis on the fact that style/fashion is secondary to talent and inspiration.

The achievements of the Inchbald Alumni are internationally renowned.

The work of the Inchbald alumni is evidence of an extensive variety of talents and skills.   There is no uniformity in their achievements, only the shared experience of a structured education together with a considered introduction to the profession and its major practitioners.   Henrietta Spencer Churchill is the doyenne of the English style, Tatiana Tafur an innovative artist designer whose work has a myriad facets and Kelly Hoppen is a master of sophisticated modernity.   They are all very successful and very different;  but  together with many hundreds of Inchbald alumni these are people who have built on a sound educational basis to develop their own inimitable style.

Principal Alan Hughes takes particular interest in the designer/client relationship;  “it is vital” he remarks, “to demonstrate to the student how they may develop their own ideas whilst taking note of the client’s background, experience and taste.”   Contrary to much opinion in the art world, there is no-one who lacks taste, however that taste may be judged.

“Once identified, personal taste or choice can be engaged and developed further, so that the space reflects the client’s attitudes;  it is the designer who articulates those attitudes in order to coax experience and opinion into a robust and coherent result.”

This fundamental lesson encourages the students, not only to accord their clients the privilege of their own views but serves to expand the young designer’s thought process and perspective.

I have always taken the view that we can learn and benefit from the brilliance of past designers who have laid down principles of style development which it is impossible to ignore.   The history of design is the very grammar of the profession and I was saddened at the last BIID General Meeting that the audience did not seem to have assimilated the importance of this learning source.   Is the Parthenon not significant in the development of Western architecture?   Is Morris not still regarded as a master of pattern and weave and do we not still use his designs to this day?   Surely then these forerunners of today’s designers are more than worthy, indeed are vital, to the study which involves not only styles through the centuries but also the technological developments that accompany all innovation – and innovation is the very essence of design.

The technological advances of the recent years have been startling in the celerity with which so much has been achieved but these advances are not limited to the last two or three generations – what incredible and unsung engineer in 3,100 BC master- minded the movement of the stones of the blue mountains of Wales to Dorset, what brilliant Japanese mind devised the system of stone cutting which built castles with perfect joins, the stones processed off the site?

No matter how talented, how experienced, how successful, we have a great deal to learn on a daily basis and learning is surely the greatest joy.

This article first appeared in Interior Design Yearbook 2017

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