Archive | February 2022

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Kingdom Scotland create a fragrant, sweet and spicy, spiritual partnership

The Society Kingdom Collaboration of whisky and perfume

First launched for Christmas 2021, this is a most creative business collaboration to demonstrate how Scotch whisky has inspired and been imaginatively paired with Scottish fragrances.

The partnership between the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Kingdom Scotland celebrates the aromatic synergy between whisky and perfume, both produced through a similar distillation method. The perfumes can be sampled together with the paired whiskies at the Society venues in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, guided by the knowledgable experts behind the bar. 

The people who said it couldn’t be done were so dull’

Pip Hills, Society Founder.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was established in Edinburgh in 1983 and now has more than 27,000 members and branches around the world. The idea all started in the 1970s, when Pip Hills sampled the delights of whisky drawn straight from the cask – undiluted and unadulterated – and this soon led to the idea of forming a club for whisky lovers. Hence, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), to share whisky in its purest form for those with a passion for flavour. 

Whisky tasting and testing by the expert drinkers at the SMWS, 1992. Pip Hills, centre

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society selects unique single casks and exclusive blends from more than 140 distilleries from Scotland and beyond promoting a new batch of around 20 rare single malt whiskies every month. The team of whisky experts seek out whisky in its purest form with a diversity of flavour and give each bottling a curious, quirky name.

Members enjoy exclusive access to these speciality whiskies through the world’s most colourful whisky club.

The vast collection of specialist bottlings by the SMWS

Imogen Russon-Taylor enjoyed an international career from film studios to drinks companies before moving back to Scotland to work in the Scotch whisky industry. This experience and insight into the delicate crafting of Scotch, soon inspired her to launch her fragrance business, Kingdom Scotland.

Imogen Russon-Taylor and her Kingdom Scotland perfumes

At the University of St. Andrews, she researched historical records of perfumed ingredients and stories of Scottish botanists and plant collectors. Born in 1889, the Scottish botanist Isobel Wylie Hutchison was an adventurous and pioneering explorer who took a 260-mile solo trek across Iceland, later travelling across the Arctic circle into Greenland and Alaska where she collected floral and grass samples for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh and Kew. A biography about her life is poetically called, ‘Flowers in the Snow.’

Isabel Wylie Hutchison – Botanist and Arctic explorer

With this background knowledge, Imogen selected and foraged specific plants, flowers and botanicals to create a range of luxury perfumes – unisex, sustainable, ethical and crafted in Scotland.

“It’s the landscape, the history and elemental weather. If I could bottle that in scents, such as gorse on the way to the beach and its coconut notes, I thought it would be an amazing Scottish brand.”

Imogen Russon-Taylor

The ancient craft of distilling whisky also links into the Scottish environment – the heritage, culture and wild terrain of lochs, forests and mountain peaks.

Whisky is in the business of “bottling Scotland” across the distinctly different distillery regions from Lowland to Speyside, Highland to Islay.

“Bottling Scotland” in a whisky barrel

The Laphroaig 10 year old single malt is for instance poetically described as “no other aroma so perfectly encapsulates the island. Peat reek, soft oak, craggy coastline, screeching gulls. .. in a glass.” 

Just a sniff of this dram will certainly transport you to Islay.

Words used to capture the complex scent and potent taste of whisky are certainly wide ranging: citrus, floral, woodland, seashore, BBQ, bonfire, spice, hazelnut, chocolate, dried fruit, cheese, Christmas Cake et al.

Experience the fragrant aroma before the first sip

Just like testing a perfume on one’s wrist or a card, we first need to “nose” a whisky as 95% of ‘flavours’ are in fact the whiff of the aroma.

The tantalising taste of a fine single malt lingers on the tongue just like a splash of scent on the skin. The sense of smell indeed lingers in the mind, engrained in the remembrance of things past.

In similar fashion, Imogen was keen to ‘bottle Scotland’ in her hand crafted scents: ‘ to transport you to a memory, a place, a moment in time. I want to create that “sense of place” in my fragrances’.

“Bottling Scotland” in a perfume

A Sensory Experience event at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Edinburgh, gave the marvellous, magical opportunity to take an aromatic journey linking whisky and perfume and vice versa.

Metamorphic Eau de parfum is influenced by Imogen’s love of Ardbeg and other Islay single malts, reflecting the layered, crystalline rock formations of the Highlands and Islands formed around 400 million years ago.

Fragrance notes:

Top – Black Pepper & Tobacco
Heart – Incense, Minerals, Islay Malt & Dark Rose
Base –  (as the scent warms on the skin), Amber resin & Leather

Such a rich smoky peat and lingering tobacco scent and oh so masculine with the underlying tones of leather seats of a vintage classic car.

This Kingdom Scotland perfume has been expertly paired by the experts at the SMWS with their Lightly Peated collection, a flavour profile blending fragrant Parma Violet/rose/ freesia floral notes and smoky wood ash.

Peat fire tales on Orkney (Highland Park, 1st fill Oloroso butt).

As described by the whisky ambassador, expect fish and chips, blood orange, smoky peat fire, lime salt, honey, and altogether smooth and well balanced.

The Taste Test:

Nose: oak, sherry sweetness, juicy raisins, vanilla, coffee  

Taste: a teardrop of water to open up the flavour: a seashore briney breeze, dark sherry, roasted coffee beans, dried fruit, hazelnuts, caramel, woodsmoke  

Finish:  warm spice, nutmeg, ginger, raisins, espresso coffee and oozing with campfire smokiness.   

Portal Eau de parfum is inspired by the Caledonian forests on the Ardnamurchan peninsula with the pungent scent of Scots pine and lichen, herbaceous botanicals and bergamot to evoke the experience of being out in the fresh country air.  

Fragrance notes:

Top –  Herbaceous botanicals & bergamot
Heart – Verdant flora
Base – Vetiver, bark & Scots Pine

This clearly bottles the sensory experience of a woodland walk after the rain in spring or summer and Vetiver oil is said to be calming for meditation and relaxation.  

Portal is matched with a whisky from the SMWS Juicy Oak & Vanilla flavour profile range: honeysuckle, coriander seed, juicy fruits, chocolate-coated cherries, passion fruit and pineapple sorbet, such as Summer Garden Curiosity and Day Sipper.

Day Sipper. (Linkwood, Speyside, 1st fill Bourbon barrel)

As described: big, robust, cherry, juicy, sweet, playful – an anytime, daytime dram. 

Nose: fresh cut grass, floral fragrance, leafy, oatmeal, hint of honey

Taste: soft stone fruits, (plum, damson), rose blossom, tree bark, moss, honey, coconut, citrus notes

Finish: Earl Grey and herbal tea, orange, vanilla, almonds, marzipan.

Imogen Russon-Taylor – with her whisky inspired perfumes at the SMWS

This is indeed the ultimate sensory experience: sip, taste and smell the natural fragrance of Scotch whisky afresh through the art of perfumery.

This innovative, cultural and truly spiritual collaboration between the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Kingdom Scotland allows us to appreciate even more how the seductive aroma of spirit and scent capture the romantic, wild, natural landscape of Scotland in a contemporary way.

The SMWS, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh

The Scottish Malt Whisky Society

The original HQ is The Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh where it all started nearly 40 years ago, then developed with club premises on Queen Street, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London.  There are now 27,000 members and branches around the world – Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the US.

Belonging to the world’s most entertaining whisky club gives access to exclusive Members’ Rooms, a network of global partner bars, tasting events, whisky education and a monthly members’ magazine Unfiltered.

The Members’ Lounge Bar, SMWS, Queen Street, Edinburgh

Visit one of the Society venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, where you can sample the expertly selected whiskies across the flavour profiles together with the associated perfumes. These unisex fragrances are the perfect gift combined with a bottle of the paired Single Malt for the whisky lover.

As a unique and exclusive luxury brand, the Kingdom Scotland perfumes are available at Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Les Senteurs, Gleneagles and The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh.

https://smws.com/about

https://kingdomscotland.com

Portal inspired by the forests on Ardnamurchan peninsula

The French Film Festival is back with Screen Horizons@ Summerhall, January to April 2022. 

The French Film Festival UK is the only festival dedicated to and embracing French and Francophone cinema in all its diversityInstead of waiting until November, an inspiring season of French and Francophone cinema comes to Summerhall from 30 January to 17 April, 2022.

Presenting a diverse range of films for all ages, from award-winners to new talent, classics to documentaries and animation.  Several will be accompanied by introductions, Q&As and talks by leading experts in film and French culture.

The courtyard beer garden and Royal Dick pub at Summerhall Arts Venue

With the easing of restrictions, we’re delighted to be able to offer Summerhall screenings in the newly re-equipped Red studio theatre with its Seventies’ vibe. Audiences will have the chance to catch up with French Film Festival titles they may have missed the first time around. The programme really does have something for everyone.”

Richard Mowe, Director, French Film Festival UK

The comfortable, intimate Arthouse cinema at Summerhall

Summerhall, located near the Meadows, is a well established and popular visual arts and performance venue, – with a pub, brewery and gin distillery on site too – a buzzing cultural centre year round with exhibitions, drama, music, films and, in August, Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows.

And what must be the best kept secret, a brand new cinema opened here in October 2021!  

The Red Lecture Theatre was previously used for the Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Cinefile, French Film Festival and Cinematic, shows films every weekend as well as special events.  The revamped cinema was financed from the Screen Scotland’s Cinema Equipment Fund, featuring Dolby 5.1 surround sound and DCP projection and is the only cinema on the southside of Edinburgh.  Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the venue screens new releases, independent films, modern horror, retrospectives and world cinema.

The French Film Festival UK presents Screen Horizons@ Summerhall.

As Valentine’s Day 2022 fell on a Monday, there is still time for a delicious sweet taste of romance on Sunday 20 February with a 3pm matinee screening of Love Affair(s).  

The French title, ‘Les Choses qu’on dit, les chose qu’on fait’  is translated as ‘The Things We Say, the Things We Do,’ a classic brief encounter tale of two strangers thrown together by chance, set against the lush green French countryside. Exploring their notions of what real love is, the chemistry between Daphne and Maxime is viewed with authenticity, elegance and compassion. Directed by Emmanuel Mouret, the film has been described as a more serious Love Actually, pitching between the philosophical and farcical.

Neils Schneider and Camelia Jordana in Love Affair (s)

This really sounds like a smash hit with rave reviews, awards and accolades:

Best Film nomination, Césars 2021.

Rotten Tomatoes – Critics score,100%

‘ Mouret channels a cacophony of beating hearts in an effortless conversation about the universal trappings of love and monogamy’.

‘A complex romantic drama which twists and turns at every juncture’.

Later that afternoon on 20 February at 5.30pm is Hello World! (Bonjour Le Monde!) for adults and children alike. With perfect topicality in the race to save the planet, this is a whimsical animated study of our fragile ecosystem.  How is a bird born, why does one come into the world as an insect, mammal or fish?

Hand crafted papier-mâché puppets with a colourfully painted backdrop interpret the life and habitats of a pike, beaver, bat, salamander, turtle, dragonfly and several birds to illustrate the amazing spectacle of the natural world.

An enchanting scene from Hello World!

And here a few more highlights over the next couple of months:

Oh Mercy! / Roubaix, une lumière (Sunday 27 February, 15.00)

A fictionalised adaptation of the 2008 French TV documentary Roubaix commissariat central, which followed a police officer and his colleagues in Roubaix, near Lille, as they deal with the shocking homicide of an elderly woman. The investigation has real authenticity to create a riveting, compassionate drama and among the potential suspects are the neighbours who report the crime, Claude and Marie.  Grégoire Hetzel’s sombre soundtrack creates a suitably chilling Bernard Herrmann, (Psycho, Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver), mood and ambience. 

Engrossing and well worth checking out’. Time Out

Simply Black / Tout simplement noir  (Sunday 6 March, 17.00/Sunday 13 March, 15.00)

Jean-Pascal Zadi’s feature debut follows, JP, an actor and activist (played by Zadi himself) who, tired of the bigotry and racism in France, decides to organize a “Black Man’s March” to raise awareness in Paris. The politically incorrect satire is essentially a mockumentary through a series of dramatic, often hilarious misadventures. By exploring how racism remains a serious issue in France, Zadi questions whether the motto ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ is more of an ideal than a universal truth. 

An extraordinary comedic work of lilt and sparkle’. The New Yorker

Jean Pascal Zadi stars in his mockumentary political satire, Simply Black

Léon Morin, Priest / Leon Morin, prêtre: (Sunday 10 April, 17.30/ Sunday 17 April, 15.00)

The French Film Festival always includes a classic programme of vintage movies which are always a joy and here is another classic in Screen Horizons.  

In 1961, a year after appearing in Breathless, Jean-Paul Belmondo starred as Léon Morin, Priest, playing a devoted man of the cloth who attracts all the women in a small village in Nazi-occupied France.  Holy but human, he finds himself drawn to a widow—played by Emmanuelle Riva—a religious skeptic. Sparse yet utterly convincing in period detail, this is a potent study of desire, religion and politics.

Belmondo is masterly at embodying how Morin uses his charisma and surly, forthright charm. Riva’s emotional vitality powers the story with an oscillating vibrancy .. the accumulation of small expressive touches is as exact and suggestive as a pointillist masterpiece’. Deep Focus review

Adolescents / Adolescentes  (Sunday 17 April, 17.30)

Emma and Anaïs are best friends and yet everything in their life seems to set them apart – from their social backgrounds to their personalities. Five years in the making, Adolescentes is a remarkable achievement, charting the lives of the two girls from the age of 13 to 18 as they grow into maturity. Things turn more emotive when the personal meets the political during key moments in French history from the Paris attacks to the election of Emmanuel Macron.  

Melancholic and graceful, ‘ ….capturing moments of aesthetic bliss  ..comparisons to Richard Linklaters 12-year narrative ‘Boyhood’ are evident.Hollywood Reporter

For the full Screen Horizons programme of films, trailers, dates and tickets – https://frenchfilmfestival.org.uk/2021/front-page/screen-horizons/

Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.

The 30th anniversary edition of the French Film Festival will run in November and December 2022, as always touring numerous towns and cities across the UK, as well as an online programme. Keep up to date with all news of this special celebratory year.

https://frenchfilmfestival.org.uk/2021/

Sozyë Nish, Noya and Noyster: Soya and fish-free organic sauces for sustainable, healthy, tasty dishes

This is a timely tale about how we can all help create a brave new greener world.  

The global taste for soy sauces and soya beans requires a constant removal of the crop which has greatly reduced the ability of forests to absorb and store carbon dioxide. Sea life is also affected as fish and oysters are used for the production of fish-based sauces.

Observing this serious ecological and environmental impact, Jacob Thundil used his experience and passion for food and innovation to create a range of organic, allergen-free, sustainable tasty sauces.

Jacob Thundil sourcing seaweed on a Scottish beach near Wick

 “While experimenting to make a vegetarian stock, the savoury notes from a particular Scottish seaweed reminded me of fermented soya. This led me to carry out hundreds of kitchen trials to perfect the world’s first British soya sauce alternative. I hope you will support our mission to brew delicious sauces which are kind to the planet and to you.”

Jacob Thundil, Founder – Sozyë

Thundil sourced sustainably-harvested, certified organic seaweed from the seashore near Wick on the North East coastline of Scotland – only the tops of the leaves are collected to enable them to regrow within a few weeks.  Sozyë Noya, Nish and Noyster sauces are formulated as soya-free, plant-based alternatives to soy, fish, and oyster sauces.

Soy sauce is traditionally produced by fermenting soybeans and wheat, a staple ingredient in  Oriental dishes and a popular seasoning in American cuisine.  The daily consumption of soy sauce in Japan alone is estimated at about 30 ml per person. That’s a lot of soya beans.

A traditional Fish sauce is made by fermenting anchovies with salt for up to 12 months.  It’s used in many different Asian dishes predominately Vietnam and Thailand, a popular ingredient due to its robust flavour profile.  It can also be made from shrimp and tuna belly.

A traditional Oyster sauce contains oyster extract, soya, wheat, and a handful of preservatives, also used in many different Asian dishes. 

The world famous Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Many people might not realise that Worcestershire sauce is actually a Fish Sauce, (also made from anchovies), first created in the city of Worcester in 1837 by two pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins, thereby founding Lea & Perrins, still today a household brand. Pronounced Wooster-sher, it’s used to flavour steak, chicken and fried fish, added to soups and stews and is an essential ingredient of a Bloody Mary.

The biggest misconception about an Anchovy-based sauce is that it’s “fishy.”  In cooking, the fermented seafood functions more like salt and brings a deep, savoury, umami punch. 

There used to be just four main flavour profiles for food and drink – sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Now we have a fifth taste, umami, a distinctive savoury taste, which comes from the Japanese word meaning the ‘essence of deliciousness.’  It was coined by a Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda, who noticed a particular flavour in asparagus, hard cheese and dashi, a Japanese stock made from kombu (kelp), a brown seaweed found in shallow coastal seawater.

Stronger flavoured foods like anchovies, salted fish, Parmesan, mushrooms, fish sauce, seaweed, oysters and olives et al. have an umami profile.  Words used to describe umami include well-rounded harmony, aromatic, and appetizing.

Seaweed has been part of the Japanese diet for thousands of years and Nori is perhaps the most familiar type used to make Sushi rolls. Eating seaweed is a super-healthy and nutritious way to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet.

In Scotland, seaweed has been gathered on the sea shore – not so much for eating –  but for the exquisitely crafted, seasalt-infused Isle of Harris gin.  Sugar Kelp, gathered sustainably by hand from local sea-lochs, is the key botanical and when there is no ‘r’ in the month, the kelp is left to recover and grow, ensuring this vital local habitat for sea life is not harmed.

ishga skincare: The name ishga is the Gaelic word for water and the Hebridean Islands is where the mineral rich seaweed is sourced to create its organic skincare with anti-ageing and hydrating properties.  The award winning ishga marine cream is described as a ‘revolutionary antioxidant moisturiser’.

Hebridean seaweed – the active ingredient in ishga marine skincare

Seaweed is therefore such a versatile, nurtritious, natural plant for health and beauty. So let’s have a taste of Sozyë sauces with a few appetising ideas for classic Asian dishes and cocktails.

Sozyë Noya Sauce is sweet and savoury with a slight salty flavour and can substitute both dark and light soya sauces.  Add as normal to a stir-fry, and when sautéing vegetables or to flavour white or brown rice.  Start by adding a little at a time during cooking to check the taste to your liking. Use as a marinade mixed with herbs and spices, in salad dressings and it’s the perfect dipping sauce for sushi.

Noya sauce with Sushi rolls

Celebrate Chinese New Year: Health and Happiness Noodles (based on recipe by Gok Wan)

340g dry Yi Mein noodles, 1 tablespoon groundnut oil, 2 cloves crushed garlic, piece of chopped ginger, 100g asparagus, 100g green beans, 2 spring onions; 3 tbsp Noya sauce, 2 tbsp Noyster sauce, 2 tsp runny honey,  ½ tsp sesame oil, ground white pepper, toasted sesame seeds, 50g pea shoots. Serves 4

Blanch the noodles in boiling water for 2 mins, drain and put in a bowl of cold water to prevent sticking.  Heat the groundnut oil in a wok and add the chopped vegetables and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger. Return the noodles to the pan and mix through, then add a little hot water, Noya and Noyster sauce, sesame oil and honey. Heat through and then season with, if required, a little salt and pepper.  Garnish with sesame seeds and pea shoots.

Chinese New Year – Happiness Noodle dish

Sozyë-style Bloody Mary  

50 cl Vodka, 120cl tomato juice, a few shakes of Noya or Nish sauce *, a few shakes of Tabasco, pinch of celery salt, ground pepper.  Celery sticks, olives and a slice of lemon or lime for garnish. (* instead of Worcestershire sauce)

Bloody Mary – vegetarian style with Noya or Nish sauce

Sozyë Nish or Noyster sauces would also be the ideal alternative, (if you are not vegetarian) for a Bloody Caesar which is made with Clamato juice, to complement its pungent flavour of the sea.  

Sozyë Nish sauce is the first like-for-like substitute for regular Fish Sauce – organic, soy, fish and gluten-free made from Scottish seaweed.   I first splashed a generous dash of Nish Sauce into a vegetarian Mie Goreng and the flavour is amazing: yes, that quintessential umami salty, earthy mushroom or avocado flavour – to my palate anyway.  A fried egg, sunny side up, is the golden crown of this delectable noodle dish.

A delicious Mie Goreng with a perfect soft fried egg on top

Again use Sozyë Nish sauce as a dip, a marinade, for a warming depth of flavour to pasta and mix with garlic and chilli for a salad dressing. It also does not have the slightly harsh vinegar undertone which is more prevalent in the Noya sauce. 

Nuoc Cham

This tasty, tangy Vietnamese dipping sauce and dressing has a subtle umami kick.  

3 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ cup water, 2 ½ tablespoons Nish sauce.  Optional ingredients:1 small garlic clove, finely minced, 1 or 2 thinly sliced chillies.

Combine the lime juice, sugar and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the Nish sauce and any of the optional ingredients. Taste and adjust to your liking, balancing out the sour, sweet, salty and spicy flavours. Perfect for dipping fried Spring rolls, grilled prawns or chicken, drizzle over rice and as a vibrant salad dressing.

Nuoc Cham dipping sauce and dressing

Pad Thai

The popular street food in Thailand is a quick and easy stir fry noodle dish to try in order to experiment with Nish Sauce.  It can be adapted for all diets as it is traditionally made with prawns, chicken or tofu (or other vegetables), with peanuts, egg, tamarind paste, garlic and bean sprouts all sautéed together in a wok.  Many recipes on line for meat, fish and vegetarian/vegan options.

Pad Thai with either chicken, prawns or tofu

Sozyë invented the world’s first Oyster Sauce alternative from Scottish seaweed.  Noyster Sauce is the ideal substitute, a well-balanced blend of sweet, salty and savoury with a hint of seaweed. Again it can be simply used as a dip such as Nouc Cham (as above), in a vinaigrette, stir-fries, roasted vegetables, a marinade and to flavour meat and fish. 

Asian Greens

1 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tbsp Noyster sauce, 350g mixed Asian greens (pak choi, choy sum or tatsoi)

Stir the oil and Noyster sauce with 1 tbsp water in a saucepan. Cook for 2-3 mins until glossy, then set aside.  Cook the greens in salted boiling water, simmering for 2 minutes until just wilted, then drain and drizzle the sauce over the greens.  

Mixed Asian greens with Noyster Sauce

Noyster Sauce Vegetable stir fry

For this revamped classic Asian side dish, choose what you like from broccoli, chopped carrots, green beans, sugar snaps, chopped eggplant, sliced red onion, mushrooms, kale, pok choy, asparagus, baby corn, bean sprouts. Cauliflower florets will need an extra few minutes to cook.   For two people, this is a quick and simple stir fry with vegetable oil flavoured with 2 tsp garlic paste, 4 tbsp Noyster sauce and 2 tbsp Nish sauce.

Vegetable stir fry with Noyster sauce.

Food for thought!

To paraphrase marketing tag lines from Lea and Perrins:

Just a dash of Sozyë brings food alive’.

Splash into your spaghetti Bolognese and add a splosh into your stir-fry.!’

These exciting, innovative British-made Sozyë Noya, Nish and Noyster sauces made from Scottish seaweed have already achieved great success as the winner of the Great Taste Awards in October 2021. 

For more information:

https://sozye.com/

Available from Planet Organic Instore and www.planetorganic.com

‘Hotel to Home’ by Sophie Bush: the story of how traditional industrial design has inspired cool, contemporary décor.

This lavishly illustrated book takes the armchair traveller on a global journey to peek inside the most original revamped buildings from Berlin to Cape Town, Chicago to London, Sydney to Singapore: destinations for design enthusiasts. Sophie Bush is the founder of Warehouse Home, a biannual magazine and interior design service,  specialising in the industrial aesthetic for bold, contemporary style. 

When I travel, I hope to be inspired. Wherever I go, I try to stay in hotels with authentic stories and exceptional interiors. I am always looking for new ideas.”

Sophie Bush

The recent evolution of hotel design is fascinating.  Finding American hotels too large, old fashioned and impersonal, compared to his travels in Europe, Bill Kimpton opened the first, so called, Boutique hotel in 1981, The Bedford, San Francisco.  Three years later, Ian Schrager followed suit, launching Morgans on Madison Avenue, NYC, the first of a worldwide collection. Their respective vision was all about creative design & local culture, cocktail bars and modern cuisine, in-house music with personal attention from haute couture dressed staff.  Distinctive, desirable places to eat, drink, socialise, sleep, dream.

If the buzz words today are conservation and sustainability, then the re-imagining of disused factories and warehouses to create unusual Boutique hotels and private residences is a brilliant solution to preserve urban architectural heritage.  

This book features forty unique hotels, their stunning industrial architecture creatively preserved where steel structures, wooden beams and concrete walls now offer exciting and atmospheric places to stay with bold style and vintage vibe.

Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.’

Frank Gehry

The Titanic Hotel, Liverpool – a former rum factory

Formerly an old rum factory built in 1848, The Titanic Hotel, Liverpool overlooks Stanley Dock and is named after the legendary ship which was christened and set sail to New York from the city in 1912.  Now its exposed red bricked walls, iron columns and vaulted ceilings retain a sense of the its ‘spiritual’ history, juxtaposed with leather, tweed and wool furnishings.

A spacious suite in the Titanic Hotel

Soho House Chicago is a converted belt and leather tannery (1907). Now the vast concrete warehouse has been converted into a ‘Hip and happening’ private Club, full of impressive art work including by Damien Hirst.  The magnificent Drawing room has spacious soft velvet booths, chandeliers and polished parquet flooring.

Soho House, Chicago – the Drawing Room

The long forgotten 19th century Pearl Brewery is the charming, characterful setting for Hotel Emma, San Antonio, Texas, named after the heroic Prohibition era owner, which preserves the machinery, brickwork and distressed plasterwork with ‘timeless elegance.’ Furnished with Moroccan kilim rugs and leather armchairs, this is the place to chill out and sip a Texan craft beer.

Gorgeous George is an intimate, homely 32 bedroom, Boutique hotel in the inner city district of Cape Town, converted from two Art Deco and Edwardian buildings: wood panelling, brass and copper pipes with smart white tiles in the classic bathrooms.  As a cultural, arty, local hub, it’s described as “a living room for the neighbourhood.’

Gorgeous George – concrete, wood and leather materials decorate the bar and restaurant

The magnificent Zeitz Mocaa Museum, Cape Town showcasing African art, fashion and design, is located within a former grain Silo (1921) and its innovative restoration by the Heatherwick Studio, London, won a Global tourism award in 2019 from the British Guild of Travel Writers.  

The Silo Hotel entrance preserves the industrial heritage

On the top six floors above the Museum is the Silo Hotel with 18 foot windows for spectacular views over to Table Mountain and the Bay. The décor is a charming blend of Asian and European antiques, silk and velvet fabrics and African artwork. Stay in one of the 28 guestrooms including a Penthouse, all individually designed, and relax in the rooftop Bar.

The roof top bar at The Silo, overlooking Table Mountain

We created interiors to complement the stark industrial architecture with stylish, comfortable, decorative elements.”

Liz Biden, The Silo, Royal Portfolio Hotels.

A former United Artists Film Company office is now the address of the Ace Hotel Downtown, Los Angeles, a 1920s Gothic building partly inspired by Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, Barcelona. Preserving the original structure, the décor focuses on Californian and Mexican culture and design – The Best Girl restaurant is named after the first movie screened at the UA theatre in 1927.

Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles

The range of former industrial buildings is richly eclectic such as a former Cheese-making factory converted into the Ace Hotel, Chicago. The design concept is Bauhaus with bold, clean lines, plywood panels and chrome tubing, with a black, white and grey palette. The Bar has scenic views over the city skyline.

Ace Hotel, Chicago – a dramatic shower room

Clerkenwell, London is a buzzing neighbourhood of pubs, restaurants and creative businesses where The Zetter. Reminiscent of the slender shape of the Flatiron, NYC, the eco-friendly conversion of this Victorian warehouse retained sash windows, sourced vintage furniture and created a light-filled atrium with a changing showcase of art and sculpture. Rooftop rooms and a split level, circular Suite with private terraces offer panoramic views.

The Zetter, Clerkenwell

This is just a selection of the iconic hotels in unusual places – a former sugar mill in China, a Swedish power station and an 18th century garment factory in Paris – each preserving distinctive architectural features complemented with period or modern furnishings and artistic décor.  

As the title of the book suggests, Hotel to Home focuses on the designs, fabrics, material and use of space – bedrooms, bathrooms – to inspire the reader to add a touch of industrial chic to their own environment.  During nearly two years of lockdown, many of us working from home, we have been keen to decorate and design rooms afresh.

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

William Morris

Chapters on residential Real Homes, such as Manhattan loft apartments, illustrate how to blend painted brickwork and raw concrete walls, tiles and timber for the weird and wonderful warehouse aesthetic.  Read all about mixing and matching raw materials for texture and colour. Terrazzo (a blend of marble, glass and quartz chippings) looks so effective for snazzy kitchen worktops and bathroom floors.

Whether a hotel or a home, the clever juxtaposition of hard steel and wood materials softened by velvet draped sofas and a splash of bold primary colours creates a dazzling, dramatic look.  There are suggestions for paintings, prints and statement, photorealistic wallpapers to jazz up a room with street art, abstract rugs or ‘paint- splattered’ fabrics. Great ideas too on book shelves, office space, how to create a feature bed, bathrooms, kitchen layout and the most appropriate lights and lamps for each room. 

This is not a travel guide.

It is a design manual filled with ideas for achieving hotel chic industrial style at home.” 

Sophie Bush

Well, I would say this book is an inspirational collection of desirable, unusual places to stay with bold and beautiful bedrooms, sleek bathrooms, smart bars, velvet draped sofas and quirky artwork offering a fabulous, fashionable home away from home.

Since 1981, the Kimpton brand continues to revolutionise hotel living. As a travel writer, reviewing luxury hotels, I have stayed in the revamped, uber-cool and contemporary Kimpton Charlotte Square, Edinburgh which offers a leisurely, liveable, home environment (Edinburgh Hotel of the Year 2020). Also love the classy Kimpton Blythswood, Glasgow, named Luxury Brand hotel, 2020.

I recently visited the majestic Kimpton Clocktower, Manchester, which was named recently in the Sunday Times as one of the best 100 hotels in the UK.  Formerly, the Refuge Assurance Company (1890), the hotel features Victorian red brickwork, ceramic tiles and stained glass as well as the fun and funky Refuge cocktail bar.  

And also in Manchester is the most exciting, new Moxy, Spinningfields, an “experiential,” nine storey hotel clad in weathered metal panels over the original façade retained from the former Hat factory. Bar Moxy and the social atrium space has a modern, industrial feel, with local-inspired artwork, curated Manchester illustrations and illuminated signs across the lobby. 

“There are two things that make a room timeless: a sense of history and a piece of the future.”

Charlotte Moss

You don’t need to live in a former factory or brewery to jazz up the atmosphere, ambience and style of your home whether it’s Victorian, Edwardian, 1930s or 60s et al. It’s all about architecture, function, comfort, décor and design to enhance original features and embrace your personal lifestyle.

‘Hotel to Home’ is an inspirational guide for interior design provides expert advice on finding salvaged materials, vintage curios, recycled furniture and artwork to create an individual sense of place, space and heritage.  A helpful comprehensive list of architects, designers and stockists is given at the end of the book.  

This is a timely, important story of renaissance, restoration and renewal of historic buildings, re-imagined with cool, contemporary design, practicality and purpose.

Hotel to Home: Industrial Interiors inspired by the world’s most original hotels

By Sophie Bush

Published by Warehouse Home, hardback £30.

ISBN: 978-1-527226-51-7.

www.mywarehousehome.com

(Reviewers note: Hotel to Home is a coffee table book designed like a glossy magazine with superb illustrations. However, apart from a larger typeface for chapter summaries, the font size of the main text is miniscule, and to read the Contents page, one almost needs a magnifying glass. There is an alphabetical list of hotels at the end but no page numbers. )

Bedroom with claw foot bath in Gorgeous George, Cape Town