houses, Uncategorized

We love London - Part 2

Text Naomi Larkin Photographs Sean Calitz, London 2012, Nathen S Atia,, supplied HL editor Naomi Larkin attended the  BMW EuroStyle Tour in London last year, an event that enables local media to experience both the cultural and economic developments of the toured country. As an Olympics strategic partner, London was a logical destination choice for the 2010 tour. We examine some of the country's top creatives, evolving trends and latest philosophies. British cuisine is known for being bland and unimaginative. But the soggy bangers and mash are gone. In their place are organic sausages stuffed with pork, game and beef all with a pedigree and traceable origin. Even the potatoes for the mash are sourced from specialist farms. It is not uncommon for top chefs like Tom Aikens to select much of the produce for his three restaurants himself, while Andy Evans, chef at The Only Running Footmen, a restaurant in Mayfair, buys all his game, including venison and partridge, exclusively from a small family-run estate in Northamptonshire. While the dishes remain quite traditional, like roast lamb shanks, poached sea bass and treacle tart, the concern for provenance, freshness and seasonality equal a level of quality not previously associated with British food. In the world of decor, design, fashion and architecture stalwarts such as Sir Terence Conran, Tom Dixon and David Collins are continuing to reinvent their brands with remarkable vitality. Likewise, relative newcomers like Platform 5 Architects, Lisa Whatmough, Juliana Sissons and Beatrix Ong are rapidly emerging as sought-after talents and sealing the country’s trendsetter reputation. Decor

  • He brought us the Beat Lights and the Fat Spot. Now designer Tom Dixon has opened an emporium at trendy Portobello Dock, featuring his own furniture and lighting, and eclectic items from international designers.
  • Lisa Whatmough’s bespoke furniture brand Squint produces some of the finest examples of the patchwork trend. Using vintage and contemporary fabrics she creates beautiful heirloom pieces.
The Olympic Park
  • As host of the 2012 Olympics the British have pulled out all the stops. Acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid has designed the Aquatics Centre, the Basketball Arena will be dismantled after the games and be available for rental, and the Velodrome will be naturally lit. The Olympic Village, home to athletes and officials, will be transformed into townhouses for locals after the event and the toilets throughout the Park will be flushed with recycled water. No cars will be able to park on site – it will be accessible only by public transport, walking or cycling. Plants have been selected for their biodiversity value and there are a number of living roofs.
  • Although still young, chef Tom Aikens has already garnered a sizeable following with his seafood cookbook Fish and his successful London restaurants. Tom’s Kitchen Chelsea is a good introduction to his cooking philosophy based around organic and seasonal ingredients. While chowing down on his signature dish of Daylesford seven-hour confit lamb with balsamic onions and mash you can rest assured it has all the right sustainable credentials.
  • The man behind SA’s own show-stopping Delaire Graff Estate complex in Stellenbosch, acclaimed Irish interior designer David Collins is responsible for creating many of the world’s famous bars and restaurants. Visit The Blue Bar at The Berkley hotel  in Knightsbridge to see his creative genius first-hand.
  • Renowned for unparalleled luxury hotels, The Dorchester Collection has just opened Coworth Park, a 70-room hotel set in 240 acres of Berkshire parkland. The interiors – created by acclaimed designers Fox Linton Associates – comprise mostly UK-made furnishings and art that translate to comfortable elegance. The Spa is reason alone to visit. Dubbed the ‘cerebral chef’, double Michelin-star winner John Campbell  is the man behind Coworth Park’s fine cuisine. He is a fan of molecular concepts combined with raw ingredients.
This article was originally published in the January/ February 2011 issue of House and Leisure.