Growing up in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the late 1950s and early 1960s with a Danish mother and an English father, was an exciting place to be, especially with a hands-on grandmother, Hilma Wiese (Bedste), the principal designer for Nørgaard paa Strøget, a leading high street fashion retailer.
It was Bedste who inspired and encouraged my love for design generally, and in particular Dansk Design, and the mid-century modern aesthetic which has informed my career as a typographer and graphic designer to this day.
Products from the likes of Arne Jacobsen, Hans Wenger, Poul Henningsen, Vitsœ and many others featured in our households. We shopped at Illums Bolighus and were frequent visitors to the wonderful gallery, Louisiana, at Humblebæk, with its fantastic views over Øresund.
Returning to England and finishing my secondary education led me to study Graphic Design at Ravensbourne, in London. The course at that time was styled around the International Typographic Style, very much part of the modernist movement which is, and has always been, close to my heart.
In my professional life I have been able to benefit from the design aesthetic experienced in my youth and count myself lucky to have worked with such names as Herman Miller, Arkana, The Lygon Arms (with its historical connections to Gordon Russell), amongst several others.
Which brings me to the Telegraph Hotel, Coventry, where I am fortunate to share my passion for design with the hotel’s owners who are committed to creating a market-leading classic, providing the city with a high-quality hospitality landmark steeped in history and echoing the building’s original mid-century modernist style.
It is something of a typographer’s dream to be working on a project in a building that was once the chattering lifeblood of Coventry, delivering the printed word daily to an eager and appreciative audience.
A busy and noisy place – reporters, editors, photographers, runners, telephonists, classified, compositors, printers all delivering the goods in their respective roles. It is difficult to imagine in today’s digital era, quite how many people contributed to producing each edition, how complicated it all was and how extraordinary that the paper made it to the newsstands at all.
The Telegraph Hotel is an exciting project, which will be delivered to a very high standard. Design references abound, with a prolific sphere of influences, and however sprawling this may seem, the end result will be carefully and precisely curated to deliver an enchanting hotel in a beautiful building.
Working in tandem with Bespoke Hotels, the operators, my role could be described as Brand Custodian, and I will help to co-ordinate visual communication and maintain the design aesthetic for collateral across the board.
As an aside, I was commissioned to design a 1950s Sputnik-inspired hexagonal ceramic tile by Artisans of Devizes, now called Lily Pad. I am proud to say that quite coincidentally interior designer Olly Redfern selected this design for the bathrooms in the hotel which has allowed me to leave my mark on this project in more ways than is usual for me!
At the Telegraph Hotel much has changed over the years, but the heart and vibrancy of the place remain undiminished. This coupled with UK City of Culture status for Coventry, promise a bright future for this rejuvenated property which is all set to become a destination in its own right.