For a period of 13 years or so I was privileged to design and produce furniture and interiors for The Marquess of Bath at his ancestral home Longleat House in Wiltshire. Lord Bath, known for his flamboyance and unusual lifestyle was the perfect client.
His brief was to create a Penthouse Apartment and Banqueting Suite suitable for the 21st Century. Aside from the fact that the project began in 1998 so we had no idea what the 21st Century would look like (and nothing ages faster than the future), it was daunting to be adding to such a superlative collection. It was also daunting to provide a suitable backdrop, a stage from which Lord Bath would provide his daily performances! Lord Bath’s specific request was that everything should be unique and as innovative as possible. A dream project!?
When one studies a furniture collection such as that at Longleat, it’s clear that fashions come and go and the furniture of the day reflects tastes dictated by external forces. Such as the Chinese wallpaper, Indian style chairs reflecting trade with those countries. So I felt that these bespoke pieces should tie in with the history of the House. The legs on the banquet table and chairs reflect animal tusks, a nod to the safari park, which has sustained the House since the 1950s. The hip and seat of the chairs are softly feminine reflecting Lord Bath’s interest in the fairer sex. The huge satin chrome door handle in the Banqueting Suite reflects the Moon Maze visible from the suite.
For the huge bookcase Lord Bath’s brief was to create something that reflected the Selwood Forest, an ancient wood part of which still forms the Longleat Estate. I took indigenous flora and fauna and replicated them in marquetry, silver and deep etched glass, which is highlighted by ever changing colour LEDs. Lord Bath’s love of colour is legendary, so instead of creating one colour I installed system where he could choose any colour he wished for. Needless to say he leaves it on fading through ALL of the colours! The glass screen in the centre allows Lord Bath, at the touch of a button to open a door and give him a view through Bishop Kens Library, down the entire length of the House.