We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

Treasured: Kit Kemp on her favourite possession

The interior designer and Firmdale Hotels founder on the surprise gift that marked a new friendship

interior designer kit kemp next to her treasured object, a sculpture by tony cragg photography by simon brown
Simon Brown

I first encountered the sculptor Tony Cragg when he created a piece for the courtyard at Ham Yard Hotel.

He’d agreed to do it because he said there were so few really contemporary sculptures in London– it’s all admirals on horses. The piece is huge and circular and zigzaggy, like lots of people talking together in profile.

We got to know him a little better when my daughter went to study at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where he was a tutor. He invited us to walk around his sculpture park and see where everything was made. He’s not just an artist, but a teacher too, a real renaissance man.

Soon after, this sculpture arrived in the post, which was such a surprise. How the hell they carried it, I have no idea – it’s Corten steel, like Antony Gormley’s Angel Of The North, and weighs a ton.

‘It came without a note – no ‘hello, here you are’ – but I think it was a thank you’

It reminds me of an explosion or a vortex. As it’s so heavy, it’s impossible to move and you can’t touch it without gloves as you’ll spoil the patina. So once it’s in position, that’s it! It’s in my living room, stood beside a 1960s Brutalist lamp, so I see it every day.

It came without a note – no ‘hello, here you are’ – but I think it was a thank you for the time we’d spent with him and for the commission. So it was a successful sort of friendship and the lasting thing from it is this wonderful little sculpture. It makes me think of my daughter and the whole symbiosis of work and family.

Kit’s new book, ‘Design Secrets’ (Hardie Grant, £25), is out now.

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.


Keep your spirits up and subscribe to ELLE Decoration here, so our magazine is delivered direct to your door.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From People