Tobys Dad Colour

Spring Lambing Season

My old pop (pictured) doing what he loves most.

In 1968 he moved into a one up one down delipidated flint shepherds cottage in a fold of the Sussex Downs, after he had kicked out the young bullocks that were bedded down.

No power or water, but heaven for a self-confessed recluse. Ever since then he has lambed his small flock in the spring and there is nothing we can do or say to stop him, but he is in his element!

A little later, in 1974 he planted the Vineyards at Breaky Bottom, which coincidentally was the year I was born. This is where I had my first workshop, making just one or two kitchens a year in an old barn.

Both me, and the vines are turning 50 this year, so this might not be the last post celebrating life at the vineyard, my old man, and my semi-feral upbringing on the farm.

Toby Hall

 

Spring. The first skylarks. Carpets of bluebells and nodding daffodils bring colourful cheer and with it, a sense of optimism with lengthening days and gradually warming temperatures.

April is traditionally the start of the farming year and the lambing season. Which means up and down Sussex there are bleary-eyed farm hands on standby day and night, watching, waiting, fuelled by coffee, delivering the next generation.

The alignment of nature and the farming calendar is a careful balance. The theory is that from the second half of April, new grass growth will be encouraged and gratefully enjoyed by ewes to provide milk for their new-born lambs.

In reality, the English weather doesn’t always comply and ironically, new-born lambs may need a woolly jumper.

It is true. There is nothing sweeter than seeing a little mob of fresh gangly-legged lambs cavorting through the fields across the Sussex Weald and the South Downs. (let’s not mention Sunday lunch!)

Behind the scenes is a different matter.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. The end seems never in sight. Until it is done.

So Respect. To the sleep deprived farmers, workers, girlfriends, boyfriends, aunties and uncles and practically anyone else they can cajole into helping out.

The kitchen plays its part. It comes to life in the small hours. A place to rest many a weary head at 3am, a welcoming space for tiny new born lambs attached to bottles like babes in arms, a comforting lean against the aga for warmth and coffee. Plenty of coffee.

And then. Like buses, all at once, more lambs want to arrive and so it’s back to business.

It seems miraculous that, within a few short weeks, thousands of lambs are being delivered up and down the Sussex countryside.

A tradition unchanged for hundreds of years.

Same as it ever was.

And the kitchen. The same but different, particularly in the small hours during lambing season.

IH.226.Bag L Same As It Ever Was

Same As it Ever Was

Same As It Ever Was, Same As It Ever Was.

The line is taken from Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads. But you probably got that straight away.

The song, released at the very dawn of the eighties, marked a significant point where high, conceptual and intellectual art crossed over into the charts and daytime radio.

Talking Heads, royalty of the New York Downtown art scene, and their classic Remain in Light album were, and remain still, an erudite proof of clever, witty and informed sophistication.

There you go.

So. A new Inglis Hall bag for a new season.

“SAME AS IT EVER WAS”

The first bag we commissioned carried, if you looked closely, the cryptic line

“ANOTHER MUSIC, DIFFERENT KITCHEN”

This line always resonated with us. A strange, abstract piece of vocabulary disarray. It was borrowed, or referenced, from a Buzzcocks album.

(It’s OK to comment that we are showing our age with our cultural nods)

That bag has now long run out. Not worn out. No way. They are made to last. Like classic Talking Heads records. Like great kitchens. You see how we think?

The first bag had a beautiful, deep, dirty ochre / yellow strap detail and text.

But, as we said, they have all gone.

New bag. New words. New colour.

This time we reach for another Inglis Hall favourite. A timeless, goes with pretty much anything, vibrant green.

A green that is not of the moment. An always green. A hue that ages with slow elegance. The green of timeless style over current fashion.

The same rules apply. The bags are not for sale. They are primarily for our team to keep whatever it is they need to carry in respectable order. We need to carry a lot of stuff which is why the bags are generously cut.

And strong.

Can you get one? Well, the definite means of obtaining a bag is to commission a project. Simple as that. The bag will be necessary at some point to carry a selection of swatches, samples and drawings. It will also take whatever books, groceries, bottles and whatever you pick up that day. From then: it’s yours! – a companion for farmers shops, food markets, makers fairs, yoga studio. Anything! – it’s yours.

Or. You could, I guess, ask nicely if you are a historic client. Worth a try.

The other way to get one of our bags is to come and work with us. We’re always happy to chat to gifted and passionate people who bring something to our team. Maybe this seems a bit drastic to get a bag? Well, they are pretty great bags.

Remember though. They are not mass produced. They are crafted in small numbers in East Sussex. They are very much objects in the values and ideals of “Acquire less but acquire better quality”

We could have specified much less expensive bags which are less durable. We could, at the lower cost, have ordered more of them thus making them a more widespread giveaway.

But that doesn’t sit right with us and we doubt if it aligns with the people who appreciate what we do.

All of this is significant.

And you thought it was just a bag.

Landscape Buildings 0058

The Weald

The Weald. In academic terms the word denotes the eroded remains of a geological structure, an anticline, a dome of layered Cretaceous rock.

There you go.

The Weald is, for the purposes of this conversation, an area that wanders and spills across East and West Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Kent.

Much of is designated, and deserved, as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is, undeniably, one of the most richly verdant and densely wooded expanses of England or, indeed, pretty much anywhere.

Whilst the Weald, as a civic region, was only established towards the end of the twentieth century, the land, the settlements within and the lore and statistics of the place are some of the earliest recorded data in the history of our country and establishment.

Explore the five hundred or so square miles that form the Weald and you encounter a seemingly endless route of picturesque villages, charming towns, ravishing meadow sweep and beguiling, tranquil and flawlessly cared for woodlands.

Somewhere in the Weald, to be specific, in the High Weald, you will find a gleaming, twentyfirst century facility. A workshop, a studio and gallery spaces.

The definition of contemporary creative environment.

Swallows Works.

At first encounter the very unapologetic newness of the place may seem surprising. Disappointing even to those expecting a careworn and endlessly patched in and improvised barn or series of sheds.

Well. The truth is.

Our objective, our primary commitment is, and always was, to craft beautiful kitchens of uncompromised quality from the very finest materials.

This belief has always engaged technology and advance in equal measures to traditional craft and method.

For a number of reasons we sigh gently at leaving our workshop in Lewes. You know the feeling. Attachment, nostalgia and the comfort of familiarity.

But then. We pace around a single space that is big enough, stable, secure, thrillingly watertight, flooded with light and we envisage, plan and anticipate the possibilities that this building will enable. Yes. A lot of good memories and a pride in what we achieved from our old place.

Goodbye. And hello.

An architect, a really famous and lauded architect once commented that no building can be designed as iconic. It is what the building and the people who occupy it achieve over time that makes it iconic.

Makes sense to us.

Of course. We still live in Lewes where you can find us in An Actual Kitchen. This is our difficult to categorise but still very beautiful space at 29 High Street. As the sign says. An Actual Kitchen.

An Actual Kitchen that almost fills the entire floor of a charming and historic building that had, until recently, slumped into dreary neglect.

Our address in Lewes. Our place that we keep in town. Not huge but beautiful. Do drop by.

Anyway. Our other place. The one where we store the finest materials in temperature controlled and dry order. Where we can work without compromise.

Simplicity may be one of our defining aesthetic qualities but, as we all know, simplicity is a complex thing to accomplish sometimes.

The machinery that crafting a kitchen to the highest quality requires is large, noisy and generally not very socially harmonic.

A purpose built place makes these processes safer, less obtrusive and more efficient.

Unobstructed and ergonomic access and exits may not sound wildly enchanting but, trust us, they mean a lot. As does proper parking and vehicle loading.

Maybe this all explains the reasons why we fell for Swallows. Picturesque? Well, not exactly. Quaint? Conventionally charming in appearance? OK, we see what you mean.

The right thing for the method, material, skill, people and process of building a beautiful kitchen?

Absolutely. No question.

Maybe the way to understand and appreciate our workshop is to spend time with a finished, flawless and timelessly beautiful kitchen.

Same as it ever was. We are still delighted to show you around. In fact, we would always advise it to anybody considering commissioning an Inglis Hall kitchen.

Still no stage of what we do that we are not proud of.

Still the same. Still different.

And now, at least, you know where we are.

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A Kitchen is Asleep

Alfred Hitchcock commented that happiness is a small house with a big kitchen. Well, we see the wisdom in his thinking but are mindful, also, that gluttony and excess were amongst his numerous traits of character.

The kitchen does not need to be big. The kitchen also does not need to be extravagant or enviably equipped. Not for this conversation.

Think of your kitchen amidst the chaos of a family weekday breakfast. Think of it at the heart of a long lunch with friends. Think of it’s soft beguile on a Winters evening with a robust dinner for two as the definition of comfort.

Think again. What about the kitchen you know so well in the small hours with the world fast asleep?

One of my quiet pleasures is those occasional nights where sleep, for any reason, is broken. The joy of these occasions is, of course, multiplied if there is no pressing reason to be awake again in a couple of hours.

Take a seat. The kitchen is tidy. Not pristine or meticulous but nicely tidy. The house is silent. Maybe it is windy outside. That may be what woke you.


Here you are. The soothing light of a cooker hood. The tiny glow of a kettle switch. The burble and flicker of a blue flame to warm some milk.

Whatever you want. Right now this is your place. Your place alone. The tranquility of solitude.

Like a very well taken photograph, everything has a familiarity but appears slightly, subtly and curiously different in the very small hours.

Maybe the radio? Maybe even put a record on. Not too loud. You do not want to jeopardize your exquisite contemplation. Look out of the window. Maybe an owl. A fox. Maybe your kitchen is in a town or a city. Silent roads being swept and slow traffic lights.

It’s all out there and you are in here. Secure, familiar and perfectly quiet.

And then. You yawn. Put the used cup, or glass, by the sink. Take a loving last look.

It’s OK. You’ll see it in a few hours. Noisier, busier and faster. A different kitchen.

Go with it. The nocturnal kitchen is a good reason not to take sleeping pills. So, not only is it one of life’s unspoken privileges it is good for you.

And to finish. Keep it secret. You don’t want the small hours kitchen to become a thing.

Shh. Quiet. Goodnight.

A Dismantle of a Small Myth

Nobody knows, for certain, who turned the phrase. It is usually attributed to Mies Van Der Rohe. It is so overused that it begs the question why people still take a smirk of pride when trotting it out.

God is in the Detail.

Well, yes, we get it.

But. What value is the detail if the entirety of form is badly considered or executed. Then, surely, the detail becomes a contradictory niggle. A smart one liner in a poor conversation.

Yes. Details are critical but only ever in the context of an extraordinarily beautiful, intelligently designed and lovingly crafted complete form.

Contentment is in the complete.

Jacket 1

Jacket Required

Inglis Hall is most definitely a collective effort. Every team needs a piece of kit.

An item of clothing that demonstrates a unity.

Making, and installing, a beautiful kitchen requires a lot of tools and instruments. Pencils, tape measures, screws. You know the kind of thing which adds weight and bulk to pockets.

Ah, yes! Pockets.

A jacket. Our own take on the classic chore coat. Similar to the timeless French painters jacket.

A strong practical jacket that will become more covetable as it ages. Simple to wear while working.

An easy thing to buy in bulk off the internet.

Well, yes and no. Not really.

Some things are critical to us. Local craft and beautiful quality.

Authenticity, provenance and material.

We approach a work jacket in the same way as we pursue the notion of a very good kitchen.

We start from scratch. An idea. Some references. Some research.

It all becomes tangible with a meeting with Katie Fitzsimons.

A friend of a friend who runs Beak Brewery. (Another thing we take seriously)

What she doesn’t know about crafting fantastic utility clothing that also happens to look good enough to keep on beyond work is probably not terribly important.

We pass around swatches. We sketch. We look at our favourite jackets.

A prototype. A fantastic, almost perfect, manifestation of our thoughts, requirements and objectives.

Only almost perfect? Well, that’s the point of a prototype.

A bit of pinning. Some marking. Over a thick jumper for cold mornings.

And then.

Delivered by hand from her workshop in Ditchling. A bundle of beautiful, perfect and just so work jackets ready for use. And occasional misuse. And spills. And the odd repair. And hot washing. Empty the pockets.

Ah. The pockets. Sufficient and roomy but close cut enough to prevent even the tiniest thing falling out.

Each jacket beautifully, and proudly, embroidered with Inglis Hall on the back.

You don’t work for us, you don’t wear the jacket. (By all means challenge this one. Give us a reason why you should wear one of the jackets and we will think about it)

So. There you have it. A simple thing that cannot be obtained immediately. A simple thing that will justify the investment of time and resources. A thing that works perfectly and becomes more beautiful with time and use.

A thing that defines our belief that crafted items which respond precisely to our own, unique way of living satisfy and please in a way that the mass produced, easily acquired, easily replaced alternative can never do.

I’ll get my coat.

We Are Where We Live

Lewes, and the East Sussex it centres, is a peculiar and beguiling composition of the willful, the charmingly wayward, the elegant avoidance of conformity and convention and a poetic appreciation of beauty in all of its forms.

It is a legacy that is committed to by the creatives, makers, thinkers and dreamers who, somehow, end up in its secure cradle in the Downs familiar thanks to a million Ravilious prints.

Lewes is curiosity, colour and sideways thinking. From the exquisite insouciance and ravishing creativity of the Bloomsbury Set living in a world within a world at Charleston to the modernist vision of the dearly departed Charlie Watts. Charlie, always the erudite, the elegant, the chivalrous Stone. Savile Row flannel in a world of crushed velvet. For many years, while London was swinging, Charlie was sauntering around his beloved Lewes buying sable brushes and oils.

Always the same. Always different. An immaculate Bohemian ideal scattered in a bowl cut into the chalky landscape that shimmers in the light reflected off the Channel.

Yes. OK. We love Lewes. We are proudly Lewes

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Coffee

This is not a story about coffee as a beverage. It is not about an exclusive, elusive and expensive single origin bean that is obsessively processed into a cup of coffee using machinery that is exotic and photogenic.

This is a humble nod to the kitchen ritual.

There are a lot of kitchen rituals and ceremonies. This is, usually, the first one of any day.

Inglis Hall, by eight thirty most mornings, is a constant thrum of process, production, progress and purpose.

This is, in part, owing to the precious thirty minutes which preceed.

Black no sugar. White with two. Extra shot. Please. Sorry, please. Any more in the pot? Another pot? Just an inch more. Go on then. A bit more. The last cup anyone?

Like most kitchens, ours at the workshop and studio is armed with pretty much every weapon in the caffeine battle.

Is it significant that the favourite device is the ancient, battered, faithful, better with age, aluminium stovetop canister. You know the one. You probably have one. If you don’t you should get one. Thinking about it though. You’re spending your time giving serious thought to kitchens so you definitely have one.

Metal, Bakelite, ground coffee, water and a flame. Or any heat. No way to hurry this one. Time for a chat. When you hear the soft burble of highly charged liquid in the upper chamber it is time.

Always the choice of the purist.

Careful. The handle does get hot. Come on. Of course the aluminium body gets hot.

A pristine pool of ebony. A shame to add sugar in my opinion. A crime to add milk but that’s only me. Honey? Really?

Oh well.

Anyway.

This small story emerged when we were discussing recent, and previous, projects.

The dedicated coffee shrine, the barista station, call it what you will. Increasingly, the kitchens we create have a high specification artillery of coffee making equipment.

It gleams, it steams and it grinds expensive, obscure and exquisite beans. It is out of bounds to children. It often takes pride of place.

We agree. A kitchen needs this engine. We all need the fuel it creates. It is best not to imagine the slump in quality and performance of Inglis Hall should the supply of coffee be cut off.

There are few fragrances that whisper comfort better than the complex notes of freshly ground, dark oily beans on their way to being drunk.

Lewes is a coffee town. You all know the places. We are biased for many reasons.
Our stop off is Caccia & Tails. An altar dedicated, with Italian passion, to coffee and carbs.

So. Yes. Coffee. Just another thing to think about when imagining the beautiful kitchen.

Berwick Church

The definition of unconditional community hub in an English rural idyll. An astonishing episode in the history of art. Fantastic in the dictionary definition of the word.

To enter this 12th century church is to swoon to the spiritual sensual force of a precious cluster of works by Quentin and Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Works that depict familiar Biblical scenes in glorious and uninhibited colour and joy.

To enter this church you must go through a beautiful 21st century solid Oak door. A door connected to the past and to history. A door for the future. A really special door that Inglis Hall designed, considered, shaped and finished.

Not a kitchen. OK. True.

A piece of a story of a vital story where faith, art, belief, ideals distill into a place of overwhelming beauty. History, heritage and door that is almost always open.

Colour

Colour

The “C” Word.

Conversations about Colour.

Hue Are You?

If politics are too uncomfortable for the dinner table but you still want to initiate a lively and passionate debate try raising the subject.

What colour do you like?

Which colour can you not abide?

Lewes has a legacy of colour. From the painters studios to the bold choice of front doors popping through the narrow streets (my current favourite is the Kelly Green front door roughly opposite the old flea market, by the time you read this it will almost certainly have changed)

Colour is a Lewes thing.

Discussions with clients about colour are revealing, fascinating and, quite often, wildly inspirational.

The yellow.

They had always had this particular Yellow in every home they had lived in since the mid nineties.

She loved it for its peculiar soft dazzle. Like a dirty dandelion she says. Like the beak of a bird she didn’t know the name of. A very specific yellow.

It appeared first as an accent. Then a statement.

Now, as the kitchen space of a home in the country was being composed, the flirtation with the colour would become a full blown love affair.

The yellow of a perfect egg yolk.

He had a different view. He liked, loved, the same colour but, for him, it invoked a different thrill.

He said it was the yellow of the Andy Warhol banana on the first Velvet Underground album. The yellow of a seventies Yamaha flat tracker.

The same yellow. A different yellow.

The yellow exploded beautifully in the larder room. Across every wall and shelf. A room you would want to eat.

If you like yellow.

And not just yellow.

This kitchen dripped, flashed and burst with colour.

Five other colours. Five discussions.

Like Hockneys socks. A sliced watermelon. “Still” by Joy Division. A perfect young olive. The green of Eddie Cochrane’s Gretsch guitar.

And so on.

A project is a collaboration with clients. A collaboration is an exchange with a rich pay off.

A finished kitchen which satisfies even the most obscure desire.

A client and a maker both a shade, a beautiful, deep and rich shade, more informed.

I will never like purple. Sorry.