The design curator delights in showing visitors around her new Sotheby’s exhibition.


It’s 6am or thereabouts and I am too bleary-eyed to even read the hands on the clock. I sleepwalk downstairs and switch on the computer. I have to finally admit I am a slave to this wretched machine.

An email from Kathy Lette, in Sydney, cheers me up. A writer and satirist, Kathy is the funniest person I know. It begins, “Darling Possum”. She is away until March and I miss our gossipy breakfasts at fellow Aussie Bill Granger’s café.

I pull on my tacky gym gear. I look a mess but it’s pitch black, so even if there were anyone around, they wouldn’t be able to see me. I drive to the gym in Lambton Place for a Pilates class with Lucy Slater, always cheerful and upbeat even at this ridiculous hour. We do a bit of everything – reformer, mat-work and balance.

Lucy works me hard and to ease the pain has downloaded music we both enjoy, which includes 1960s rock, Bob Marley and jazz sung by the great female vocalists.

Afterwards I swim, have a steam and go across the road to Ottolenghi for some strong coffee. The counters are piled high with temptation. What I would really like is one of their divine cheese straws but instead it’s a bowl of boring berries when I get home.

A quick change into proper clothes and make-up and I’m off to New Bond Street. This is the second week of Originals, the selling exhibition I am curating at Sotheby’s for designer/artists Tord Boontje and his wife Emma Woffenden. It had a “soft opening”, to use restaurant jargon, last Tuesday, though we actually installed the exhibition before Christmas. All that remained was tweaking and lighting. You can kill dead the impact of a work of art if it isn’t lit perfectly. It sets the tone and I was lucky that lighting maestro Rupert Barth von Wehrenalp was there to help. It’s an art form, of which Rupert is definitely the Picasso.

I love showing visitors around, particularly those unfamiliar with the work. In 2005 Boontje collaborated with Alexander McQueen during the Milan Furniture Fair. Their Doll chairs were in McQueen’s store, where I first saw them, and we are exhibiting the last two, now collector’s items.

Georgina Godley, a friend and an immensely creative, original designer who now works with Mario Testino, comes in. Georgina totally “gets” Boontje’s aesthetic and immediately emails fashion colleagues, urging them to visit the exhibition.

I rush home because we are going to Richard Polo’s 80th birthday dinner at The Garrick Club. Richard – founder of restaurants Joe Allen and Orso – looks a sprightly 65. We travel to India every year with him and his wife, the multitalented Tricia Guild, and know each other very well – warts and all you might say, having endured some challenging experiences together, including 10-hour bus journeys and accommodation with more bugs than beds.

Tricia looks stunning in a dress by designer Rachel Comey, and it’s a wonderfully happy occasion. The Polos have many theatrical and musical friends, including actress Patricia Hodge, Christopher Biggins (straight from playing Mother Goose in Darlington) and the legendary Wagnerian soprano Dame Anne Evans, who sings Happy Birthday, which is the icing on the cake (a replica of the Opera House).

But it is the birthday boy – Riccardo, as we call him – who has the last word, and touches us all when he says: “Surrounded by people I love, I can’t think of a better way of celebrating my 80th birthday.” What a start to my week.


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