Kit Kemp on successfully displaying art at home
Interior designer and hotelier Kit has a knack for weaving original works and prints into her room schemes
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Kit Kemp was once quoted as saying 'I don't believe in beige'. It's a statement affirmed by the unashamedly maximalist interiors that the homeware designer and co-owner of Firmdale Hotels puts together time and again. A Kit Kemp interior is always a unique treat, a polished yet playful combination of fabrics, textures and one-of-a-kind furniture.
- See: How to display – show off artwork, ornaments and cherished finds
One key aspect of Kit's rooms is art – her style icon is Gustaf Klimt, and she's a huge fan of Chilean artist Iván Navarro. Look closely at her Instagram feed and you'll notice how prints and paintings are used frequently and in a multitude of ways, some deliberately disruptive, some harmonious.
Here, we shed light on some of Kit's most inspired uses of art in the home.
- Love this? Take a tour of Kit Kemp's home – be inspired by her inimitable creativity
1. Use art as a jumping-off point
Often when creating a scheme, the art fits in once the design of the room has been conceived, but in Room 1412 at The Whitby Hotel the soft grey tones of the Grisaille painting were the root of our inspiration. The colour palette of the room captures the dramatic swathes of grey in the painting, showing that monochromes needn’t always be a bold statement and can create a harmonious and relaxing space . . . #kitkemp #kitkempdesign #whitbyhotel #art #newyork #grisaille #inspiration #monochrome #design #craft #painting #interiordesigner #decor #findinginspiration #blog #roominspo #artinspiration Kit Kemp’s Design Thread (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by @kitkempdesignthread on Feb 15, 2019 at 11:51am PST
Art is often bc perceived as the final flourish to a decorating scheme, but it can also be the statement around which everything else is designed. Kit has take the latter approach here, picking out the monochrome palette of this canvas by Grisaille in upholstery and accessories.
2. Explore different mediums
Boiled wool is a material we use a lot in our designs, it has a wonderful quality of being luxurious without being over the top. A few years ago, the stylist @arabellamcnie asked me to create a room at Somerset House for a celebration of Wool Week. Everything in the room was created from wool - even the London scenes by @annaraymondartist above the fireplace were on canvases created on wool and the white wool headboard was specially embellished by @pippacaley with beautiful jewel colours. Read more on this week’s blog for how we use this versatile fabric in our designs. Link in bio . . . #kitkemp #kitkempdesignthread #wonderfulwool #fabric #textiles #wool #design #somsersethouse #celebration #interiors #interiordesign #london #unique #inspiration #boiledwool #chic #stylish #pippacaley #artist #arabellamcnie #statement #beautiful #roominspo #colour #pattern Kit Kemp’s Design Thread (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by @kitkempdesignthread on Feb 18, 2019 at 10:49am PST
Kit isn't afraid to try new ideas – such as curating a room at Somerset House using pieces only made from wool, in celebration of Wool Week. The scenes above the fireplace depict London and were created by textile artist Anna Raymond. Kit is such a fan, one of Anna's works takes pride of place in the Kemp's Knightsbridge home.
3. Use art as a focus when zoning a large-scale space
This week on the blog we have taken a look at how we work with large scale spaces to design living areas. When designing a living room, the first step is to figure out what the focal point is going to be, whether it’s a fireplace, a piece of art or a great view. In the Drawing Room at Ham Yard Hotel a hand-painted 1835 marriage cabinet takes centre stage besides a striking painting by Eileen Cooper. The vibrant colours of folk art are echoed in the @turnellandgigon crewel-work fabric on one sofa, and a @raoultextiles African Asafo-inspired fabric on the opposite sofa. If you’re new to colour, why not cover a favourite chair in a statement fabric or design to raise an eyebrow and add an element of fun . . . #kitkemp #kitkempdesign #hamyardhotel #soho #london #livingroom #drawingroom #londonhotel #boutique #hotel #design #interiordesign #pattern #colour #statement #art #turnellandgigon #eileencooper #designinspo #roomdecor #roominspiration #interiordesinger #interiorinspo Kit Kemp’s Design Thread (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by @kitkempdesignthread on Mar 24, 2019 at 6:59am PDT
Kit uses this trick in her larger hotel suites and communal areas such as lobbies and restaurants, and it will work just as well in your open-plan living room. In this case, she has used a painting by Eileen Cooper as a focal point, then arranged furniture around it to create an intimate sitting room within a room.
4. Display a series
The embroidered Pippa sofa, a hand painted box and a collection of folk inspired artworks in my new 'Kit Kemp at Bergdorf Goodman' collection in New York. See my exclusive collections of furniture, textiles, art and home accessories in the transformed loft space on the 7th floor of the legendary department store @bergdorfs until August 12th 2019. More design details are available on my latest blog post - link in bio. #KitKempatBG . . . #kitkemp #bergdorfgoodman #bergdorfs #kitkempXbergdorfgoodman #nyc #newyork #midtown #manhattan #design #installation #newyorkcity #iconic #collaboration #launch #interiordesign #designinspo #handsewn #art #craft #artisan #oneoff #limitededition #mythicalcreatures #folklore Kit Kemp’s Design Thread (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by @kitkempdesignthread on Apr 24, 2019 at 8:56am PDT
Framing a large-scale, original work of art is one way to make an impact, but it's far from your only option. A uniform display that incorporates a series of prints can be just as effective. These folk-inspired images are available as part of Kemp's Bergdorf Goodman collection.
5. It's all about the frame
Introducing our new monthly series, Meet The Maker. Each month we'll be shining the spotlight on one of the talented artisans and craftsmen who's creativity and skill helps bring the layered aesthetic of the hotels to life. One of our joyous and long term relationships is with framer, Marcus Wells. He feels free to show me new ideas and I am always happy to suggest an unusual combination. Sometimes a framed picture can become a table top or a set of hand-painted organ pipes, boxed in Perspex, can work as a room divider. Head to the blog for our Q&A with Marcus on how he chooses a frame's design and advice he would give on framing at home . . . #kitkemp #meetthemaker #art #craft #artisan #framing #design #firmdalehotels #london #newyork #talented #interiors #inspiration #british #design #interiorsinspo #howto #interiordesign #interiordesigner #designdetails #interiorslove #tips #tricks #lovecraft Kit Kemp’s Design Thread (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by @kitkempdesignthread on Jun 23, 2019 at 1:08pm PDT
Kit works closely with her long-term framer, Marcus Wells, on many of her most striking displays. 'He feels free to show me new ideas and I'm always happy to suggest unusual combinations.' Judging by the results, it's a match made in interiors heaven.
Follow Kit @kitkempdesignthread (opens in new tab)
Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Audience, across Future's Homes portfolio. A homes and interiors journalist of 20 years standing, she has spent much of that time writing about technology, appliances and kitchens. While other people count how many countries they've visited, Amy tots up how many countries' washing machine factories she's toured (it's eight by the way, from South Korea to Slovenia). She can't leave the house without a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and is always ready to explain an acronym – be it QLED, DAB or HDMI.
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