Clerkenwell is not an area I venture to much but I recently discovered that it is home to more creative businesses per square mile than anywhere else in the world, making it one of the most important design hubs in the world.
For the past 8 years it’s also been home to Clerkenwell Design Week, a week-long celebration of the community offering showroom events, exhibitions and special installations that take place across the area. It’s also home to the first Malmaison hotel in London situated in Charterhouse Square and I was lucky enough to be invited along to a secret pop up room party with Xenz.
Xenz first entered the graffiti scene during the 1980’s painting in Hulls many derelict warehouses. After graduating from Edinburgh college of art he spent 10 years in Bristol before setting up a studio in London in 2005. A few years ago he was commissioned by Malmaison to bring his artistic flare to the each of the hotels 97 bedrooms as well as the elevator hallways and the main reception.
“I wanted to bring the outside in … I came up with the idea to paint a tree throughout the building as if the guests were birds coming to roost for the night … I took inspiration from the London plane trees that are outside the hotel. This tree is planted all over London because it sheds its bark constantly and resists the pollution. I felt this tree was a subtle way to convey London without using an obvious image of the skyline. To enhance this effect I added pigeons, sparrows, and parakeets and lots of butterflies! As a child I loved the book The Magic Far Away Tree by Enid Blyton and this is still an inspiration in my work today.” I’m also a huge fan of The Faraway tree and I can definitely see the influences in his work.
After a drink in the bar (the DJ was of course fashionably late) we were shown to the party area – two adjoining bedrooms on the ground floor – where we had our own little bartender whipping up delightful magical colour changing cocktails, delicious canapés served on artists palettes and some fantastic tunes.
The artwork in the rooms is simply stunning and the attention to detail is crazy, especially when you consider the fact that Xenz had very short amounts of time to work on each room depending on whether it was allocated to a guest that evening. In fact the mural in the second picture below only took him a total of about 4 hours to complete!
It was a great event but the cocktails were potent and boy would I have loved to just bed down on that cosy bed and have a nap. Alas instead I had to make my way home to my own bed in my far less exciting bedroom with its beige walls. The next Clerkenwell Design Week is being held 22-24th May 2018 – find out more information here.