Going Places – Inside Stories … from Bentley – The Official Magazine of Bentley Motors – Spring 2014

Wherever he worked, from Rome to Riyadh, Interior Designer Christopher Hall immerses himself in the local culture. That’s why his completed commissions have a rooted, timeless quality to them.

One of his clients calls him Lawernece of Arabia and, looking at Christopher Hall in that light, there is a suggestion of the famous desert warrior about him. It is not so much that he looks like Peter O’Toole, but that there is a sensitivity, an intelligence, a ravenous cultural curiosity, a quiet determination and, yes, a faint mysticism about him. Softly spoken, with a light antipodean lilt; slight in build; fashionably bearded and looking half a decade younger than his 45 years, Christopher Hall resembles an earnest academic rather than the interior designer he is.

We meet at Five Hertford Street one winter afternoon, and I get the sense that he would rather be somewhere else … Istanbul, probably, where he settled in 1999. “Istanbul is a city that I adored from the minute I saw it, which was in 1988, and I made a decision there and then that this was a city I was going to live in. And after nurturing this idea for many years, having lived in Rome and Paris and Sydney, eventually I made my way there and started my business. And 14 years later I’m still there part-time, apart from being here now.” While his attraction to Istanbul is emotional, there is the sense that the decision to come to London was arrived at more rationally. “Istanbul is somehow really tiring because it’s a city of 16 to 18 million people with no real order,” he says, “so London is a lot easier for me in that respect. I mean there’s a lot of order and structure, so that’s great.”

Yet for all its structure and order there is the strong sense that London is just that little bit too straightforward for Hall. For him, interior design is not so much an exercise in furnishing and fabric choices, paint samples and pantones, it is an intellectual journey into a different culture. Once embarked on a project, he will master every aspect of it; no barrier is too daunting, no detail too insignificant. I ask how much work he handles personally. “Everything that goes into the house goes past me, every single thing,” comes the response. Even the door furniture? “Everything. Every single thing goes past me.”

And from the contemplation of fingerplates and hinges he will do everything he deems necessary, even if it means becoming fluent in a new language. Having learned French, Italian and Turkish, of course, he was after something a little more challenging: not just another language, but new alphabet. So when he was offered some important commissions in Saudi Arabia, he taught himself Arabic. And having worked up a good knowledge of Arab script, he is now grappling with Cyrillic. The other day, one of his projects was on the cover of Russian Architectural Digest – I didn’t even know there was a Russian AD, but Hall did; he landed a couple of nice residential jobs from it. If he looks happy as a result of this then it is probably because it means that there is a new culture to understand, a new alphabet to decrypt and a new language to master.

He just cannot help but immerse himself utterly in whatever he is working on. “I think there’s a sensitivity. I think that I get in deeper, because I’ve been in the Middle East for a long time, I speak Turkish fluently, I’ve studied and speak Arabic, I speak other languages, and I completely disappear into the project. I feel it deeply, and I understand what the client wants because, culturally, I understand where they’re from. I’m not somebody who’s flown in to do something and flown home again. I live here,” he says, momentarily forgetting that we are still in London. “And, you know, Istanbul is two-and-a-half hours from Riyadh, so I can go for a couple of days, or I can be there for a month. Where people live is very, very important. It’s very easy to create these looks that don’t have any weight to them; however I think it’s essential to respect location and culture.”

And it is that intensity that makes Hall such a fascinating person. He is an intellectual sponge and he brings the same cultural rigour to each project, the same respect for cultural context whether that context happens to be a beach house in Sydney or a palace in Riyadh. “I would have to say the Saudi jobs are the big ones and they’re the ones that have been the most challenging and the most rewarding. And they are very long, so having to train my mind to stay passionate about a job that’s going for 10 years is incredibly challenging, because I get this explosion of inspiration when I meet someone or when I see a space. the idea is to hold on to your inspiration when I meet someone or when I see a space. The idea is to hold on to your inspiration and create what you’ve seen in that moment. But these huge jobs that take time are great for me personally, because I develop new skills along the way, as well.”

For Hall it is about “maintaining that inspiration, and holding on to that sort of clarity and vision that you have. And also keeping the client involved and stimulated and satisfied, and myself as well. And also, I have to say, I haven’t let go of my old habits of looking everywhere for furniture and objects. You know, I’m curious. I go to markets, I go to second hand shops, I go everywhere to find things that will work. And there’s something sort of beautiful about that, because the result is obviously a lot more personalised and less generic.”

And if he cannot find exactly the sort of object he has in mind, then he will make it. He has created a range of furniture that borrows Middle Eastern motifs, appropriating them with an assurance and confidence that can only come with in-depth knowledge, and which makes each piece much more than a pastiche. “The production was easy because when I moved to Istanbul in 1999 there was very little there. They’d just had a massive earthquake and the whole place was a bit of a mess. I started to get projects, and there was nothing to use, so I started designing everything. And I found, quite quickly, that the artisanship in Istanbul, in Turkey, is excellent. So I was thrilled, and the deeper I went in, the more I discovered they were extremely capable of the most incredible things ever. So of course I started to build relationships with these tradespeople and these artisans and as a consequence, my production came to life, because I custom-made everything for every project. Eventually I started to gather certain pieces that I loved and put names on them, and created lines.”

Indeed it was through his manufacturing that he came to the notice of some members of the Saudi royal family. “I designed some bronze chandeliers for a palace in Jeddah, for an interior designer, and from there I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a young prince who was getting married and needed to sort out a residence within a year, and that residence that they purchased grew to be their family home. So we worked on developing it and also buying the property next door.”

Even though that was 10 years ago, the kingdom continues to surprise. “Recently I did a huge tent for a client in Riyadh … I mean a huge tent, with kitchens, serving rooms and bathrooms and 16 or 17 meter ceilings.” And size was not the only unusual thing about it. “The construction of it is concrete and we clad it in woven camel hair on the outside, and inside upholstered the walls, and we laid carpets and built the fireplace because Riyadh in the winter gets very cold, despite what everybody thinks. And floor seating and floor dining. And that was a great exercise because I had freedom to do pretty much what I wanted, but I kept it very much within the palette and range of my interpretation of Riyad. Traditionally, the Saudis are used to tents, and they like to have tents outside their houses, but we took it a step further and created something that was more permanent.”

Lawrence of Arabia would have been impressed: A New Zealander reinventing the tradition of desert hospitality on a Brobdingnagian scale, in concrete clad with camel hair …

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“I don’t care, just pass me the bottle.”

Interest

 

Did you know:

  • Several hundred compounds affect taste, colour, and mouth-feel of wine.
  • The Beach Boys 1976 song – ‘Good Vibrations’, is not good for wine.  It wants to lay still.
  • You’re not a wine expert until you’ve read: Phytochemistry, Volume 64, Issue 7, December 2003, Pages 1179-1186

“I don’t care,” you say, “just pass me the bottle.”

Understood!

But, so what?

PROBLEM

Historically the storage of wine was handled by wine merchants.  Since the mid-20th century, however, consumers are increasingly storing their own wine in home-based wine cellars.

Problem:  Wine stored in too warm a room, say 18 C and more, is prone to ‘cook’, losing flavour and balance.  For example, a Beaujolais’ ideal storing temperature is about 12 C.   How to ensure the best temperature for your wine?

Problem:  If cork is not kept moist, air is prone to seep into the bottle, affecting the taste.  While not scientific, it is generally accepted the optimum relative humidity at which wine should be stored is 75%.  Russian wine writer, Alexis Lachine, went so far as to recommend spreading 1.5 cm of gravel on the cellar’s floor and periodically sprinkle it with water.  If your cousin Vinnie is in the lawn irrigation business …

Problem:  Strong sunlight and incandescent lighting are taboo, as they adversely react with wine’s phenolic compounds, creating a wine fault.  For that reason, wine is stored in light green and blue coloured bottles, acting as sunglasses, if you will.

The overarching problem is:  How to ensure your wine cellar’s doorway keeps temperature, humidity, and light at generally accepted optimum conditions, to prevent tainting of your prized wine collection?

SOLUTION

The solution is Simple!  Profound! 

Lebo’s rabbetted door panel closes against a gasket mounted to its frame on two vertical and top sides.  This virtually guarantees no light, air, and dust or humidity flows out of or into your wine cellar.

What about the ½”(1.25 cm) space under the door?

Lebo doors offer an optional lowerable floor closure seal!  Activated on the hinge side and bottom of the door leaf, the seal drops 5/8” (16 mm), against a … to give additional help to maintaining the desired temperature, humidity and light, an atmosphere to preserve a grand wine for its time.

BENEFITS

What this means to you is the bottle of wine that cost you your inheritance is secure in your wine cellar, secured by Lebo’s ingenuity.  (You didn’t expect me to say anything less, did you?)

DO IT!

Don’t believe me!

Come and see!

Tell me what you think!

You’ll decide one of two things:  1)  I’m in need of truth serum, or 2)  You need the benefits of this innovative and life improving Interior Door!

The truth is, Phytochemistry won’t matter, the Beach Boys will sound better than ever, and the several hundred compounds will be in full retreat as you cry …

“I don’t care, pass me the bottle!”

Lebo Frames & Doors

Simple!  Profound!

Interior Doors Vancouver and Canada.

What Little Girls Wish Daddies Knew

Posted: 02/02/2014 Huffington Post

 News

// // // I’m spending the morning waiting for my car in the repair shop. Four men in flannel (I missed the flannel memo) and I sit around smelling tires and inhaling exhaust fumes while an enchanting little fairy is in constant motion around her daddy. She climbs on him, giggles, turns around, and then she’s back to twirling on the tile.

She’s bouncing and spinning around in her pink frilly skirt. Her black cable knit tights are sagging around her tiny knees, and her puffy coat makes her arms stand out further than is natural. To top off the ensemble is a shiny crystal tiara. It’s been tacked down to her head with what appears to be about 60 haphazard bobby pins.

She’s probably 4 years old. So little, so vulnerable. She doesn’t seem concerned about it as she sings about teapots and ladybugs in her black Mary Janes. I feel myself tear up as I watch her. I tear up as I watch him watch her. She could not possibly know at 4 what impact this man, his character or his words will have on her for years to come. And, maybe he doesn’t know either.

So, to all the daddies with little girls who aren’t old enough yet to ask for what they need from you, here is what we wish you knew:

1. How you love me is how I will love myself.

2. Ask how I am feeling and listen to my answer, I need to know you value me before I can understand my true value.

3. I learn how I should be treated by how you treat my mom, whether you are married to her or not.

4. If you are angry with me, I feel it even if I don’t understand it, so talk to me.

5. Every time you show grace to me or someone else, I learn to trust God a little more.

6. I need to experience your nurturing physical strength, so I learn to trust the physicality of men.

7. Please don’t talk about sex like a teenage boy, or I think it’s something dirty.

8. When your tone is gentle, I understand what you are saying much better.

9. How you talk about female bodies when you’re “just joking” is what I believe about my own.

10. How you handle my heart, is how I will allow it to be handled by others.

11. If you encourage me to find what brings joy, I will always seek it.

12. If you teach me what safe feels like when I’m with you, I will know better how to guard myself from men who are not.

13. Teach me a love of art, science, and nature, and I will learn that intellect matters more than dress size.

14. Let me say exactly what I want even if it’s wrong or silly, because I need to know having a strong voice is acceptable to you.

15. When I get older, if you seem afraid of my changing body, I will believe something is wrong with it.

16. If you understand contentment for yourself, so will I.

17. When I ask you to let go, please remain available; I will always come back and need you if you do.

18. If you demonstrate tenderness, I learn to embrace my own vulnerability rather than fear it.

19. When you let me help fix the car and paint the house, I will believe I can do anything a boy can do.

20. When you protect my femininity, I learn everything about me is worthy of protecting.

21. How you treat our dog when you think I’m not watching tells me more about you than does just about anything else.

22. Don’t let money be everything, or I learn not to respect it or you.

23. Hug, hold, and kiss me in all the ways a daddy does that are right and good and pure. I need it so much to understand healthy touch.

24. Please don’t lie, because I believe what you say.

25. Don’t avoid hard conversations, because it makes me believe I’m not worth fighting for.

It’s pretty simple, really. Little girls just love their daddies. They each think their daddy hung the moon. Once in a while when you look at your little gal twirling in her frilly skirt, remember she’ll be grown one day. What do you want her to know about men, life, herself, love? What you do and say now matters for a lifetime. Daddies, never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.

Thomas Edison and His Spice Kitchen!

INTEREST

Did you know the man who gave us the electric light bulb, Thomas Edison, couldn’t stand the smell of cooking food?  He had to eat, so he built a kitchen in a separate building on his property in Fort Meyers, Florida.

Most modern homes have two dining areas, two living areas, two-car garages, but have not fully accepted the need for two cooking areas. A kitchen-removed, or ‘spice kitchen’, is standard fare for many Asian cultures.  Their thinking on this feature is simple:  To prevent cooking odours from permeating their home, we want a ‘spice kitchen’.

PROBLEM  

Pungent and food-produced steam from garlic, chilis, and cooking oils are a migratory and perennial problem in modern homes, becoming embedded in fabric and all manner of porous material – notwithstanding one’s highly sensitive odour molecules (sense of smell).  As well, surfaces of kitchen cabinets require occasional washing with soapy water to be rid of nauseating odours.

Hood fans with Class 5 tornado sucking-power aren’t available.  Open windows play havoc with air conditioning and uniform temperatures.  Vinegar does the job and then you have to do a job on vinegar.  Air fresheners are temporary while introducing their own peculiar odour.  Gas masks are an over-the-top reaction!

“I don’t need a spice kitchen,” wrote one contributor in a reply column, “I just call in the kitchen demo unit and have them clean up my mess!” Again, possibly an over-the-top reaction!

‘Spice kitchens’ are equipped with doors which, hopefully, contain nauseous odours from sneaking through the cracks and gap under doors into the rest of the house. Is this enough?

SOLUTION

Lebo Interior Doors & Frames has a Simple! and Profound! two-fold solution to the problem of kitchen smell containment:

1)  Lowerable Floor Closure Seal

Image

2)   A three side rabbetted door panel that closes against a gasket seal.

Image

Ingenious!  Don’t you think?

BENEFITS

Lebo’s lowerable floor seal and three-side-rabbetted door panel ensure odours from all sources, light and sound, are held in areas they are meant to be contained and out of areas in which they are not welcome.

What this means to you is control of your home’s environment, more comfort for its inhabitants.

DO IT!

I encourage you to be suspicious of my claims.

Come and see!

Tell me what you think!

You’ll decide one of two things:  1)  I’m in need of truth serum or; 2)  You need the benefits of this innovative and life improving Interior Door!

If Thomas Edison was alive today, he would wish he had invented these features; and, he’d greet you at our showroom door!

Maybe …

 

Lebo Interior Doors & Frames

Simple!  Profound!

Showroom:  2800 Viking Way, Richmond, BC V6V 1N5

Interior Doors Vancouver and Canada.

‘Little Black Dress’ and LEBO Interior Doors

Simple! Profound!

The Little Black Dress, or LBD, as it is affectionately known, has become a “rule of fashion”. Women believe no closet should be without this simple elegance. Since the early 1920’s its timeless style has galvanized the imagination of women and disassembled the thinking of men.

Simple! Profound!

Hubert de Givenchy, the famous French fashion icon, sourced the finest Italian satin to create a celebrated silhouette worn by Audrey Hepburn in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Shimmering, sculpted and sleeveless, its floor-length skirt was gathered at the waist, slit to the thigh on one side, and accented by a pair of black elbow-length gloves. In December, 2006, this timeless and dazzling treasure was donated to and auctioned for charity. Christie’s Auction House flawlessly coaxed and wheedled a discerning public to a profitable end. The Little Black Dress fetched an elegant … $923,187!

Simple! Profound!

Since 1871, LEBO Doors & Frames, have changed the way we think and feel when walking in and out of their rooms. Quietly, they bid welcome to and stand guard against … German designed and manufactured, hairbreadth allowances between door and frame evoke images of an old ’57 Porsche Speedster, its door latch moaning softly as it closes: cluh-CLICK-click.

LEBO Doors & Frames speak to and satisfy discerning tastes and values. Modern and traditional offerings are available in 14 wood and 16 laminate surfaces.

A full product offering is available in our Lebo website/catalogue

LEBO Interior Door trends for today and tomorrow, feature:

• Rabbeted door panel – closes against frame mounted gaskets to control dust, noise, and light
• Lower-able floor closure seal (P 102) – further prevents transference of dust, noise, and light
• Frames are free of nail holes – simple elegance in 10 frame styles
• Full length glazing with wood stiles, sandblasting, grooving or plain glass – options
• Glass and wood sliding-doors – for all tastes and styles

If Christie’s Auction House today teased an adoring public with a LEBO Interior Door, would we have Breakfast at Tiffany’s tomorrow?

LEBO Interior Doors – no home should be without this elegant simplicity emanating a bold expression!

Simple! Profound!

Showroom: 2800 Viking Way, Richmond, BC V6V 1N5

Interior Doors Vancouver and Canada.