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Q&A KIT KEMP, Co-founder Firmdale Hotels
As co-founder and the award-winning designer of boutique hotel group Firmdale Hotels, Kit Kemp has estalished the group known for its style, hospitality and originality. Founded with her husband Tim, Firmdale Hotels posess an eccentric English look with bold prints, bright colours, unusual artwork and furniture and antiques yet each hotel has an individual interior. The London based group operate seven hotels and recently made its international debut with their latest opening of New York's Crosby Hotel. Here, Kit  shares her Expert Opinion with The Luxury Travel Bible and reveals what inspires her, why Frizz Ease is important and her favourite hotels (apart from Firmdale Hotels of course)...
What inspired you to create Firmdale Hotels?
Firmdale was created because we were always disappointed when staying at hotels. Our anticipation was greater than the experience. After all it is a real treat to stay in a hotel but so often you are made to feel you are being dealt with by robots. We didn't want to create a cellophane packed experience but something altogether more intriguing.
What is the single most defining thing about your style?
I use colour and scale differently, I balance rooms by not thinking in pairs. I am daring in mixing and matching modern and period pieces. Having said that, function and comfort come first with a huge slice of self confidence.

My signature style and philosophy is to try NOT to have a formula. I try to make an interior refreshing and surprising. Sometimes it works and if I can make someone smile too I feel I have been a little bit successful. I don't want to be gimmicky or style conscious, though. One good idea per room is enough.

Tell us about the design theme behind your latest opening (Crosby Street Hotel)
My first inspiration was "how has art been inspired by authors and the written word?".

I have some paintings and artwork by: A S Byatt, an English Author and a face sculpture of white letters of the alphabet, by Jaume Plensa.

There is also an organic theme running through the building. We also have a beautiful garden and outdoor space which were very exciting to design and decorate.

The whole building is filled with light as the windows are very large, and they are floor to ceiling windows on both sides of the building.

What is the next big hotel design trend?
Hotels of the future will probably have the same aims as the past. The will just look more zippy, because in front and behind the scenes we can use great technology. Nevertheless I don't want to have a degree to use the bath tap or turn on the television so I hope the guest will be unaware of all the intricacies. Mostly I hope there will be no more wiring to get tangled up in.
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel's interior design is successful?
A sense of humour. Hotels have become too serious and formulaic taking themselves too seriously. They forget about the requirement of feeling lyrical and carefree.
Haymarket Hotel Bedroom
 Knightsbridge Hotel Library
What other designers do you admire?
Robert Kime

Apart from your own, what are your favourite hotels/resorts? (and why)
Jao, Botswana - It is nature itself, the inside is also outside.
Hotel du Palais, Biarritz  - Very municipal

Hotel le Yaca, St Tropez - It is uncomfortable, very noisy but overlooks all the roof tops of St Tropez

Haymarket Hotel
Haymarket Hotel
What is your favourite city to visit?
New York

Where do you shop for eclectic pieces?
Junk shops around Europe, because at the end of the day I prefer junk to very expensive pieces as long as they have lots of character

What is the one luxury travel experience you will never forget?
Going down the Olympic bob sleigh!
Where in the world are your favourite art galleries?
The Basel Art Fair, in Basel, Switzerland, has an art fair that encompasses art galleries form all over the world , I always allot time in my diary to go there. What is more Basel is a beautiful town, and has really great galleries permanently in town.
What three things do you never travel without?
Bikini, John Frieda Frizz Ease and Blackberry
What is the most important thing (travel-wise) that money CAN buy?
Money can buy you the best view or aspect from your hotel room
What is the most important thing it can't?
Ensure you get fantastic weather!
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Posted 12/12/10

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