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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.