It was probably about 20 years ago when I found myself sitting in a room at Heathrow airport surrounded by thirty other hopeful BA cabin crew candidates.
Although the room was rather dreary, there were posters hanging around the room that showcased many of the destinations that BA served. My eyes fell on one in particular image that showed an idyllic white sandy beach with an ocean so blue it looked like I was seeing it through turquoise glass; I remember there and then wondering and hoping that I would be lucky enough to get my job at the ‘world’s favourite’ and stand by that very ocean and indeed travel the world and satisfy my wanderlust.
Roll the clock forward about six months and there it was, there I was, sitting on that same beach and pinching myself that it was all actually real and that I was really here. The reason that I mention this moment in my life is not because, hey guess what, I got to see the Caribbean sea but that despite all the adventures since, that hopeful moment full of anticipation and nervous energy, sitting in that dreary room at Heathrow airport has always stayed with me and inspired me to be a bit courageous and push myself beyond what I think I can aspire to.
I often think of it now when I consider how widely I have travelled and how completely lucky I have been in this regard. Cultural diversity and curiosity has played a large part in my life and some of my more nostalgic moments overseas have heavily influenced me as a designer. Certainly cultural diversity has driven the Penelope Allen Design ethos and branding with a firm emphasis put onto the riches of the modern and ancient world, perhaps our website gives you a hint of this, check it out to see what I mean.
So twenty years later, I am writing this blog on a 13 hour flight returning from Singapore to London. On this trip I have had to stop myself from just buying everything that I love! Alas, that is not totally possible but what I am passionate about, is going to the ends of the earth to bring our clients the most unique and beautiful finds possible, finds that will totally blow their socks off.
2016 has been hectic for us so far, we’ve been on a bit of a road trip since January with buying trips to Mexico, Paris and now Singapore, and even managed to pull off a massive commercial interior design project in the process. We did have a bit of a chill out in Mexico if I’m honest, although we found some beautiful Onyx pieces that we totally fell in love with. We succumbed to an ‘Assiette de Fromage’ by the Seine in Paris after visiting the seductive store of Astier De Villatte on the chic Rue St Honoré and certainly a few ‘Singapore slings’ were consumed in the Long Bar at Raffles in Singapore during our visit to the exciting Maison & Objet Asia Interior Design show.
So what treasures from far off lands did we find? Well for now I’m keeping tight-lipped about that but let me tell you that we met some of the most amazingly gracious people who were thrilled at our interest in their wares, some small crafters and makers whose livelihoods depend on the income from their crafts and others who have been working tirelessly to have their designs and workmanship appreciated in the commercial marketplace (is there such a word as ‘workwomenship’ by the way??).
In addition, one of my missions is to figure out a way to recreate that white sandy beach with a turquoise ocean in the studio, some say impossible but I say, nah, nothing is impossible if you really want it…
Penelope Allen – Director & Interior Designer