Sixty years ago I had a good idea, and since I was then sixty years younger, I also had the energy to put it into action. In September, in the first year of the Swinging Sixties, the Inchbald School was established on the ground floor of Stanley House in Chelsea, with nine students. The following year the September term started with a group of forty; clearly the Good Idea had a future, or so it seemed! Certainly all these students were anxious to develop careers as interior designers and the harvest of stars was impressive. Graca Viterbo of Lisbon studied at Stanley House, as did Nina Campbell and Crysanthe from Athens. Michael Inchbald, Jon Bannenberg and John Siddeley all lectured to those early students but David Hicks came later; he was fully committed at the time to a new partnership and marriage to Lady Pamela Mountbatten.
My personal ambition regarding this venture was to establish the veracity of a profession which was largely written off as being ‘arty’ and lightweight. I took the view that the discipline of training would provide a structure and gravitas which would lead to public recognition of interior design as an important accomplishment as well as a career worthy of public respect.
The success was considerable. It was not long before we moved into No7 Eaton Gate and there we have been ever since, developing and refining our methodology and generating the careers of interior design leaders like Stephen Ryan, Henrietta Spencer Churchill and Zeyneb Fadillioglu from Turkey. Even Zaha Hadid put her toe in the water at a Ten Week Course, to see if she was right to aspire to what developed into a dazzling career in architecture. The Garden Faculty was founded in 1974 and by 1978 was supervised by John Brookes. Thus Inchbald developed the talents of students like Philip Nixon, Luciano Giubbelei and Marcus Barnett – all stars of the horticultural world.
In 2005 Inchbald moved on by deploying all the benefits of technology to the advantage of those overseas students unable to visit the UK. Inchbald Online now includes Interior Design, Garden Design, and Interior Decoration as well as a number of short courses in specific subjects. Happily when the fog of pandemic descended on the UK, Inchbald was able to continue seamlessly, teaching all Courses in skilfully constructed programmes of Virtual Learning.
You could say that after sixty years of experience there is still no shortage of Good Ideas and Inchbald is still bursting with the energy of possibility.
Jacqueline Duncan, Dean and Founder
The class graduating Inchbald this year have had a challenging journey.
The Students’ time at the School is always characterised by the inevitable fluctuations of acquiring knowledge and mastering new skills. Any work involved in the creation of interior and exterior space is demanding but this year’s group has been faced with the provocation of Covid 19, a circumstance that none of us could have anticipated.
The events of 2020 have disrupted the usual pattern of study and certainly increased the pressure in a programme in which hard work is mandatory. Reflecting on how Inchbald students have handle these problems I have to say that Andrew Duff and I, and indeed all the staff, have been most impressed with the fortitude and commitment, added to the good grace with which our students have accepted that circumstances change and they would need to adapt to that change.
Thinking on your feet is part of the skill set of a designer, reacting to minute by minute developments and challenges. The class of 2020, across the board, have more than risen to that challenge and as a result will be the better for it.
I am delighted to introduce their work to you and commend them for their achievements, their creativity and their individuality.
Alan Hughes, Principal