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A Visit with Marianna Kennedy, London's Sorceress of Color

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jun 08, 2012 01:05 AM
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by Christine last modified Jun 07, 2012

Our friend Jo Craven (a UK Vogue contributor) takes us on a tour inside Marianna Kennedy's kaleidoscopic world in Spitalfields, London: Originally from Canada, Kennedy moved to Spitalfields nearly twenty years ago, after she completed art school in Dublin. Over the past two decades, she's applied her energies to renovating her 18th century Huguenot silk weaver's house back to how it was intended to be, using muted colors from Holkham Linseed Paints on the walls. As her friend Tash Aw says, "Everything here feels ancient but looks new." Throughout the interiors of the four-story house, Kennedy's own handmade lacquered tables, lamps, and mirrors appear like rainbow-hued quotation marks. Kennedy’s heroine is midcentury French designer Eileen Grey: "She had just a few clients who were very particular," she says. "Not many people work that way anymore." Kennedy does, though. "We make things in small collections, and when they’re sold, they’re gone," she says. Kennedy will be showing her latest pieces at Art Basel from June 14 to 17; for more information, go to Marianna Kennedy . The tour continues up to Kennedy's roof garden on Gardenista . Photography by Kristin Perers . Above: Kennedy in her showroom, arranging branches. The window panes are covered in book cloth fabric from her husband Charles’s bookbinding business, which he operates on the top floor. Above: Kennedy has been working on a series of gilded mirrors called "Feathers of Gold." Made of platinum glass, which is then colored, the frames can take up to a year to create. They are first hand-carved of cherry wood, according to a drawing by Kennedy, and then gilded by Izzy Tennant, sister to supermodel Stella. Kennedy's first collection was exhibited at the Galerie Chastel-Maréchal in Paris and sold out to private collectors. Above: The Cawdor lamp in lime resin (standing in front of yellow book cover fabric blinds) has a story behind it. Kennedy counts Isabella Cawdor as one of her good friends and asked to borrow a lamp from the family castle in Scotland (yes, as in Shakespeare and Macbeth) to copy in resin. Above: Red blinds in the sitting room add warmth to the neutral tones. Above: The book cloth fabric Kennedy uses for her blinds. Above: Kennedy's dining room is adorned with an assortment of her colored resin candle sticks and lamps. In this room, she has selected blue book cover fabric for her blinds. Above: In Kennedy's sitting room, one of her own hand-painted signs hangs on a wall. Above: The reflection of Kennedy's signature jewel-colored resin lamps and wood carvings she is using for a Murano glass project can be seen in one of her lacquered tables. The lamps are available at Ben Pentreath ; £400. Above: Jewel-colored panes of glass light up a dark stairway. Above: In her private office, the hand-painted signs are a humorous nod to the various shades of black. Above: A catolog of Kennedy's show in Paris "Plus Léger que L’Air" sits on a crimson lacquer table with griffin feet alongside antique carved wooden peaches and pears. Above: Kennedy designed the black four-poster bed in the master bedroom. More calls to action are printed on specially designed horsehair bags (chef Nigel Slater uses his for vegetable shopping in the market); this one is embroidered with the message "Dites Moi," while the hand-painted sign on the wall says the same in Italian. Above: The entry to Kennedy's home, showroom, and workshop. Photo by Christine Hanway. (N.B.: To see Marianna Kennedy's private rooftop retreat, visit A Secret Roof Garden in Spitalfields .)






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