THE PODCAST,
my life in seven charms
THE PODCAST,
my life in seven charms
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Kit Kemp

Author, award-winning Interior Designer and Founder & Creative Director of Firmdale Hotels

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Annoushka Ducas:
I'm Annoushka Ducas and I've been designing jewelry for 30 years and collecting charms for as long as I can remember. In this new podcast, I'll be asking a series of extraordinary women to tell me their life story in seven charms. Today I'm meeting Kit Kemp MBE, co-founder and creative director or Firmdale Hotels.

Annoushka Ducas:
So today, I'm outside the Ham Yard Hotel. It's such a peaceful spot. I'd completely forgotten what a tranquil place this is. Just a few minutes walk from Piccadilly. I'm really looking forward to meeting Kit and hearing about how she and her husband and co-founder, Tim, reinvented and reimagined what we now know as the boutique hotel. It's my great pleasure to welcome Kit to My Life in Seven Charms.

Kit Kemp:
Thank you.

Annoushka Ducas:
What I was so struck by when I came in again today was just the warmth and the welcome. Because I actually think, from my own experience, a hotel, kind of corporate hotels, are quite intimidating and they're a bit hush-hush and you're kind of worried that someone's going to watch you approaching reception.

Kit Kemp:
Yes. Well, actually it's when you approach reception and then they all turn round and go the other way. That's the thing, I'm actually quite shy about going into, for example, a gallery or anywhere where there's a velvet rope. And I love art and I love craft, but I wanted it to be viewed in such a way that it felt like your own home, not completely white walls and a gallery feel. And actually, I feel the same way as you do. I find lots of hotels very, very corporate and not welcoming. And I wanted this to feel more like a home, rather than a hotel.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, you've done it so well. It's absolutely gorgeous. Right. I think we should talk about your life in seven charms. So charm one's an airplane. So, for me, I'm absolutely obsessed with making things as perfect and working as possible, in miniature. I think that is the charm of charms. I see this as three dimensional, I see it as a locket, I think the pilot should be able to climb in like he did in a-

Kit Kemp:
Cockpit.

Annoushka Ducas:
... cockpit. Thank you. I see it in yellow gold. Spinning propellors that really spin. I think it should have a little jumpsuit in it, somehow. I think it should have a beautiful rock crystal window, so he can see out. Dark pink sapphires or maybe rhodolite garnet. And then on the wings are the yellow diamonds or yellow sapphires.

Kit Kemp:
Well, the extraordinary thing was, I never thought about it before, but my father was mad about airplanes and he designed them for Folland Aircraft for someone called Petter, who I think he designed the Gnat, which is probably one of the forerunners to the Red Arrows. Forgive me if I'm wrong, because I know so little about airplanes. But what it meant was that at home we even had dinner mats with airplanes one them, which is very boyish, but I was a tomboy. And they were the most glorious things, because they weren't jumbo jets, they were these incredible bright yellow, chrome yellow, cardinal reds, even the camouflage was green and yellow and brown, but flashy. And they looked like a craft that could go to the moon, they looked like sleek pieces of engineering. So I think, in a sense, they almost look like sculptures to me.

Annoushka Ducas:
Just talk a bit about your memories of your father and your childhood. How were you brought up? I'm just fascinated.

Kit Kemp:
I have two elder brothers, so I loved my brothers. And my mother worked for the BBC, but I was a complete rooter. I used to go around and delve into... we had tall boys or great, big mahogany chests of drawers and I used to love pulling them open and hauling out loads of fabrics and bits and pieces that my mother had bought and never made into anything. She loved buying all these things, but at the end of the day, never had time to sit down at a sewing machine. And I wasn't very tidy, but I was a whiz on that old machine, and nothing could stop me, in a sense.

Annoushka Ducas:
So when you got hold of these fabrics, did you make clothes, did you make cushions, what did you make?

Kit Kemp:
Yes, because I'd look at magazines and I would try and make what I saw, but then if I went shopping with my mother in South Hampton, nobody was wearing anything like that. Because, actually, when you look at magazines, it didn't bear any resemblance to what was going on in the High Street then.

Annoushka Ducas:
So you were probably ahead of your time even then.

Kit Kemp:
Well, I think I did my best.

Annoushka Ducas:
Do you think your parents had a huge influence on you and your career? Because airplane designer to the BBC. I'm just fascinated.

Kit Kemp:
Yeah, well actually, having said that. My father... he got really fed up with design, because he said by the time anything was done it was almost obsolete. So he moved away from aircraft, and then he had this most fabulous espresso coffee bar in South Hampton called The Mocambo, which was the first espresso coffee bar, so it was a very cool dude place.

Annoushka Ducas:
So you're following in his footsteps because you're a rule breaker, I suspect.

Kit Kemp:
Yeah. He loved jazz and he was a bit of a dude, so I guess he was before his time, because most people only had one career, he had several.

Annoushka Ducas:
Like all our children are going to have several.

Kit Kemp:
Yes, exactly.

Annoushka Ducas:
Things have changed so much, haven't they?

Annoushka Ducas:
Charm two is two cherries on a single stem, and I just see these as so tactile. So I see them on, again, probably yellow gold, possibly agate cherries, carved agate, three dimensional cherries. Better still would be rubies, I think, really, cabochon rubies, I think they would be particularly gorgeous and delicious. I always want to put jewelry in my mouth, so actually these cherries are perfect. And then I think it should have a moving leaf with, perhaps, some diamonds down the spine. That's how I see them. But I was a bit surprised. Cherries. Tell me about cherries, why?

Kit Kemp:
I love the idea of the falling leaves, I think that's so beautiful and very often in the designs that we do, with textiles, there'll be a falling leaf or just a leaf that you almost see after the rain, so it's got that shiny, dewy piece about it. And I really thought about this, because my first finding Tim and the first relationship that we had, Lynn Chadwick is a sculptor and he very kindly said that we could go down and borrow his little cottage in the South of France, but we had one chore that we had to do every day. And the little shepherd's cottage, actually, was enshrouded by a great big cherry tree and it had the terrace and one of his sculptures, which was a big table that looked like a crocodile on the terrace. And the one thing that we had to do every day was to pick up the cherries and put them in brandy in a Kilner jar and turn the Kilner jar every day, that was our chore.

Annoushka Ducas:
How absolutely... god, how therapeutic and wonderfully slow.

Kit Kemp:
It was. And then, what they would do is they would take the cherries and then bring them back. He loved in Gloucester and on Christmas Day, instead of Christmas pudding they would have their cherries in brandy with ice cream. And then think about that terrace in the South of France and all the sun and all the beauty there. And so, Tim and I would motor down and we went in my little... I had a little [deux chevaux 00:09:17] which is the little-

Annoushka Ducas:
Was it green?

Kit Kemp:
It was orange.

Annoushka Ducas:
We used to play that game, when the children see a deux chevaux in green, they have to pinch each other.

Kit Kemp:
Oh, did they?

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah. So I wanted to know whether it was green.

Kit Kemp:
It was orange with a running duck on the back and Tim used to call it my garden shed on wheels.

Annoushka Ducas:
But things have changed so much, because for me, that really evokes, as I said, this sense of a different rhythm to life, a much slower, more relaxed, rather than this kind of manic existence we all seem to have now. Do you think back fondly on that?

Kit Kemp:
I do, and it's so true. I had to think about so little. It was such a special time, really. And not a care in the world. Not a care in the world.

Annoushka Ducas:
But, I mean, you and I share working with our husbands, so we've just got to talk about that, because I'm dying to know how is it for you working with your husband? And how many years is it?

Kit Kemp:
Well, I don't ever remember Tim asking me to work with him. And, in fact, I hardly remember him even asking me to marry him. And Tim was moving into this new flat, which had a basement, and I was there with he and the builder, and our relationship was very up and down. And Tim said, "Well, I think I'm going to need a cat flap in the door." And the builder turned to him and said, "Yeah, but you haven't got a cat." And I thought, "Well, I do. Maybe there is a chance."

Annoushka Ducas:
There's hoping.

Kit Kemp:
Yes, but that's so typical of Tim, because he'll never say anything directly, it's like an indirect feel all the time. And it was the same when, the first hotel that we did was Dorset Square, and he never actually asked me to get involved, but I realized that I had married someone who just never stopped working, so unless I joined in and did something, I would never see him.

Annoushka Ducas:
And how's it been? I got to ask... absolutely.

Kit Kemp:
When we started off, it was quite tricky, because, of course, when you're doing a large project you get obsessed by it, and it is your life and your world, and so even things like how you place a piece of furniture in a room or what's going to happen within it, takes on very important proportions. And so, we did have terrible fights, actually.

Annoushka Ducas:
Did?

Kit Kemp:
Yes, we did.

Annoushka Ducas:
Have you found ways to sort that out now?

Kit Kemp:
I always say we're now like two sumo wrestlers, we kind of circle one another and come in for the kill at the right time.

Annoushka Ducas:
But when you don't agree on something, because when we don't agree on something, we kind of have a rule that we don't do it, mostly.

Kit Kemp:
Mostly.

Annoushka Ducas:
But if you don't agree, how do you navigate that?

Kit Kemp:
I think that as women we often take things very personally, and I try not to. I try and say, "Okay, I'll give up on that one, but I'm certainly going to come in and not give up on something else. The funny thing is, that work wise, we do actually probably get on extremely well. We just arrive quite differently at the same place.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, we're exactly the same, so we will pretty much always arrive at the same place, but my goodness, it's from different angles. It's quite fun though, isn't it? But how do you divide your roles, out of interest? I mean, because you're-

Kit Kemp:
Tim is very much the money person.

Annoushka Ducas:
Right, okay.

Kit Kemp:
He's the leader. He finds the properties, he finds the project, and then we all fall along in the wake, actually. And I then just get on with what I have to do, and I don't deviate from my course. It doesn't matter what happens, I'm going to get there.

Annoushka Ducas:
I noted you said, "We all," which brings me quite neatly onto your third charm, which is three monkeys. You're going to tell me about your three monkeys in a minute. But I see those three monkeys as having lots of fun and three individual, three dimensional monkeys hanging, probably, from a branch of hanging at slightly different heights, playing with each other. One in yellow gold, one in white gold with black rhodium, but all very much with micro-pavé diamonds in there as their fur, I guess. And I'd seen their tummies, I think their tummies would be gorgeous in carved ebony, or something like that. And maybe just on the end of their feet, they might have a little sapphire briolette or something, just for movement, but their legs will all wobble. So it should be really fun, but tell me about your three monkeys.

Kit Kemp:
Well, they're my three children and we've got three little girls, Tiffany, Willow, and Minnie. And hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, but they're my three little monkeys. And they're just full of fun and mischief. They always were, the three of them, going around together, and we did dress them all the same. So when we had Christmas cards and when they were sitting on a wall, there'd be the tall little one, and then that little cheeky one at the bottom, Minnie-

Annoushka Ducas:
What's the age difference?

Kit Kemp:
Well, there is four and a half years between them all, so they all came in a rush, really, and racing around together. And they are all for one and one for all. They would squabble and fight and everything else like this. But my eldest daughter's slightly disabled, and I know that in any situation they would be right there for her. And if you haven't got your family looking after you, who do you have?

Annoushka Ducas:
Absolutely. And I'm an only child, so when I had four children, I'm like, "Oh, this is quite weird actually," I actually wasn't really expecting everybody to look out for each other, but it's such a lovely, such a lovely thing. Because you have two brothers?

Kit Kemp:
I've got two brothers, yes. So I didn't have girls around me, I didn't have sisters, so I think that's why I'm a tomboy and why I love being with me. But actually, to have my three little girls and they would always laugh at boys, if they were coming along throwing stones and throwing oars into a swimming pool or something like that. They used to think it was really funny. And they can do things like play America's Next Top Model, without a boy saying, "You can't do that." Whereas, I couldn't do that. I had to climb trees and play cricket and generally just act like a boy.

Annoushka Ducas:
Of course. Am I right in thinking that two of them work for you?

Kit Kemp:
Yes. Willow and Minnie both work for me. Tiffy, far to sensible, she's in the countryside.

Annoushka Ducas:
So have they worked for you for a long time?

Kit Kemp:
Yes, yes. Well, Willow went to Cambridge and she got an architectural degree, and then Minnie went to Leeds and she got her degree in graphic design. So Willow is very architectural and fantastic at doing things in 3D, she can kind of look around things and great at doing repeats and good at furniture design. And Minnie is just color and full of masses of ideas, so that when she comes with schemes, I've got four schemes for four rooms, but actually she's put it all in one.

Annoushka Ducas:
So how do you deal with that? Because that must be quite difficult, as a mother, to say, "No, no. I'm not sure about that." I'm fascinated to know how that works. Is it stressful? Do they always say, "Yes, mommy." Or how does it go?

Kit Kemp:
No, they don't. They need space. For the two of them, they work on different floors for a start, so they're not in the same room. Their minds work quite differently, and I just feel I'm so lucky to actually have them working for me, because you're watching them grow.

Annoushka Ducas:
What's your vision for Firmdale for the girls, I guess? I mean, would you like them to take it over, how do you-

Kit Kemp:
Yes. Yes, I would. I mean, we were never going to build up our hotels to sell. I think lots of people do things and they have in the long-term that they're going to sell out and go and live on a desert island. Well, I've always known that would be so miserable, I'd hate not doing things. I love to work. I love what I do. And so, we've always just had in the back of our mind that it would be passed on. I don't know. I mean, the fact is that you can't plan that far ahead. You've really just got to enjoy for the moment that it's going well, and there's that saying, "You're always as happy as your unhappiest child."

Annoushka Ducas:
So true.

Kit Kemp:
And that is so true.

Annoushka Ducas:
So true.

Kit Kemp:
So I'm touching wood at the moment.

Annoushka Ducas:
I'll do that, too.

Kit Kemp:
Because they all seem to be in a good place.

Annoushka Ducas:
So your fourth charm is a mannequin, which is obviously the logo for the Firmdale Hotels. I'd love to know how you might have seen this, but I see it, funny enough, I wasn't going to put it on a stand, mainly because it won't be very practical as a charm. But part of me wants to put it on a stand, because I want it to turn and do what a mannequin is designed to do, but I was thinking it would be so gorgeous in malachite, because malachite has... well, it just has all those beautiful structures of the stone through it, so there's something about that. Just very simple and on the base to put Firmdale. So I'd kind of seen it like that, but I'm fascinated why it is the logo.

Kit Kemp:
Well, within a room, you could spend an absolute fortune and art is sort of like a piece of string, it can just go on and on and on. And we actually thought that by putting a mannequin into every room, it's a shape that is actually useful, too. It has a function. So if you go into the room, you see people have hung their hat over the top of it, put their jacket around it. And we actually, in some of the top rooms, we just have a little tiny mannequin, where you can actually hang your jewelry around it.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, that's great. I love the idea of that.

Kit Kemp:
Then we actually made a mannequin which was made of [Perspex 00:20:23] where it had a light inside it, so that for a child in a room who just wanted to have a little glow by the bed, we had the mannequin. And at Haymarket we liked a sort of surreal look, so we had an eye and a lip in one of them. So we've had really a lot of fun with the mannequins, but the shape within the room. I didn't want a squadgy body, so this is more of an Edwardian or Victorian body, so it's got a lovely bust, it's got a good bottom.

Annoushka Ducas:
It's got a very small waist.

Kit Kemp:
And a wafty waist.

Annoushka Ducas:
It's got a very small waist. God.

Kit Kemp:
Exactly, so that dream figure.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah, exactly. I mean it is so, for me, it's very representative of the hotels. But just tell me, because you have been credited with absolutely changing the face of hotels and making boutique hotels, what we all now know as boutique hotels. But actually, how many years ago did you start?

Kit Kemp:
Did we start? Well, the first one we opened was Dorset Square Hotel, and that was in '85. So of course we started in '83, which is when we got married, '83.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh god, was it?

Kit Kemp:
Yeah.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh god-

Kit Kemp:
I know, it's just hundreds of years.

Annoushka Ducas:
You took on a lot in '83, didn't you?

Kit Kemp:
Absolutely. Never do things by half.

Annoushka Ducas:
No, clearly. I mean, what was the vision for the first hotel?

Kit Kemp:
We'd never enjoyed staying in a cellophane packed hotel, and I had awful memories of going to weddings with my parents in hotels and interminably long meals in really boring ballrooms, and we wanted to create a much more fun vision, actually. There were boutique hotels, because we could only, really, Dorset Square hotel, which was the first one had 37 rooms, and it was never taken seriously by large hoteliers or by British Airways or anybody. They all thought, A, it would pay, and B, you can't even be bothered to even talk about it. And I remember we had Anton Mosimann who came down to have a look at the kitchen in the basement. Somebody said they knew him, so he came down and looked at this kitchen that had water dripping from five stories down into it. And he said, "You will never cook a meal in this kitchen."

Annoushka Ducas:
I used supply him fish, actually, in my-

Kit Kemp:
Did you?

Annoushka Ducas:
... first life.

Kit Kemp:
How fabulous.

Annoushka Ducas:
But that was quite a risk to open a 37 bedroom hotel. I was like, "Gosh."

Kit Kemp:
We didn't think it was, because that's the arrogance of youth. You just go ahead and do it. And when he said, "You'll never cook a meal in this." We thought, "Oh, silly old thing. Course we will." And to give him his due, he did come up later on and say, "Well, well done. You've kind of made it work."

Annoushka Ducas:
But tell me a bit about your approach, for those people who haven't been into one of your gorgeous hotels. What do you want people to feel when they come in?

Kit Kemp:
I really like people, and I love them to feel comfortable. And I would never have anything in a hotel that I wouldn't have in my own home. And you have to use all your senses when you're creating a hotel, and that includes taste and smell and touch and feel. But feel is so important, and I just hate fabrics that feel prickly and tickly, and I think it must be the same with jewelry. You want it to feel soft on the skin, the way it picks up your warmth when you wear it. And all those things are just so important. And I just felt that lots of hotels, before we came along, wanted to have design that had, what I would call, high-heeled shoes, which is rather worried about offending someone. And there's something, actually, almost forgettable about really good taste.

Annoushka Ducas:
So true.

Kit Kemp:
Sometimes you should have a bit of bad taste. You should just go for it. And I think people then appreciate it. But it has to come from your soul, you have to really mean it.

Annoushka Ducas:
Did you say you didn't want to sit on a fabric, something about being in the nude, what was it?

Kit Kemp:
I don't want to sit on any fabric that I wouldn't want to sit on in the nude.

Annoushka Ducas:
That's it. That absolutely sums it up to me. That's so evocative of comfort and I was like, "Yeah, I get that. 100%." But you're right, it is like jewelry, because actually, weirdly, people think jewelry is just about what it looks like, but it so isn't. It's so about how it feels, is the earring too heavy, does it make a funny noise when you move. It's all of those things. The attention to detail in absolutely everything is just, in this room, is just heaven.

Kit Kemp:
Attention to detail, you've got it. The devil is in the detail, and so much so with jewelry. I mean, it's so refined. It's so exquisite when you get it right.

Annoushka Ducas:
And just having something so miniature and as perfect as you can get it, is just a huge pleasure. I want to ask you if there are any... because you clearly have taken risks, but are there any risks that you wish you'd never taken?

Kit Kemp:
Do you know it's never the end story. I often think that, "Okay, it's not exactly as we planned." But I think you have to think on your feet and especially with design, you can plan a room, and then suddenly you put it in the room and it doesn't look right. And at that point, you just have to say, "Okay, we're changing it. This might look great there." And then you play, and sometimes that is better than your original idea.

Annoushka Ducas:
Essentially. And just from that kind of art and the furniture, because there's so many just amazing textures and colors, do you just see something that you love and think, "I must have that"? Or how does it work on a really practical... because I really, I love process. I'm just really interested. Having not trained as a designer myself, I've become very interested in what the process is.

Kit Kemp:
No. I know what I like immediately I see it, and it's quite true, if you're putting a hotel together, when you open the doors for the hotel, it has to look as if it's always been there. And it has to feel comfortable, and it has to have a charm. It means that people who aren't even interested in their surroundings suddenly ask questions. Like a businessman who's very tired will say, "Oh, that's interesting. How'd you do that? How'd you make that? This is a great painting."

Annoushka Ducas:
So is there a repository somewhere where you have artifacts that you've bought and then reimagine?

Kit Kemp:
Yes. When we were doing the Crosby Street hotel, for example, we filled up two warehouses in Jamaica Queens and, yeah, I had to get it all out then. But I know exactly what everything is, where everything is, everything is cataloged, and everything just has to go in place. You have to be extremely methodical.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh my goodness. There's no way I could do it. If my husband was here he'd say, "Well, you definitely couldn't..." Methodical's not really part of my... I wish I was, but it wasn't that. Actually, you were talking about the Crosby Hotel. Let's talk about Crosby Hotel, because your next charm is called Crosby the cat.

Kit Kemp:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
I found this, weirdly, the most difficult charm to do, mainly because when I looked it up and I saw the amazing Botero sculpture of the cat, the first picture I saw was with all those floral decorations on top, so it kind of slightly confused me. [crosstalk 00:28:40] It completely threw me. So actually, I had visualized it with the floral decoration, but actually, in retrospect, I think I would just create a little miniature, probably, I think probably carved in onyx, a little miniature version of the gorgeous Botero cat. Talk me through Crosby the cat.

Kit Kemp:
I will. Well, Crosby the cat came with the Crosby Street hotel, which is our first hotel that we built in New York. And we had actually met Fernando Botero, who is a Columbian sculptor, and he had this magnificent cat.

Annoushka Ducas:
New York, that was, as you said, it is a bit of a graveyard for English businesses, it has been. So that was an incredibly brave thing to do. Why did you suddenly go across the pond to New York?

Kit Kemp:
Well, it's Tim. He just wanted to do New York. I think it must've been something that, deep in his mind, he decided that this is what we were doing and come what may, we were going to succeed.

Annoushka Ducas:
So what was the most challenging part of that?

Kit Kemp:
The most challenging part. Well, I was just very nervous about it. And I remember talking to my yoga teacher saying, "I don't think I can do this."

Annoushka Ducas:
And she was, "Om."

Kit Kemp:
Yes, exactly. "Om." And as I'm trying to do all these strange poses. And sort of calming me down as I was thinking, "This is just the pits." And it's just like doing things step-by-step, suddenly, if you just take one step at a time, and just the process continues and suddenly you're there and you think to yourself... I mean, when I walk around it now, I think, "How on earth did we do it?"

Annoushka Ducas:
God, yeah. I bet you did. I mean, huge project. I mean, when you're doing a huge project like that, how do you switch off and relax? because that's hard in this world that's so fast and so connected.

Kit Kemp:
Well, I think compartmentalizing your life is quite important. And the best thing for us is to go down to the countryside. I love being in London and I love being in the city, but at the weekends, even if it's 10:00 or 11:00 at night, I just pile into the car. And when the children were tiny, I'd just plonk them in the back. And when you go to the New Forest, when you go over the cattle grid, because that keeps all the ponies in, you suddenly hear the cattle grid and it goes [inaudible 00:31:21]. And as soon as I'm over that, I feel as if my shoulders have gone down about two or three inches. If I can just wake up on a Saturday morning seeing the greenery and taking the dogs for a walk, I just feel happy.

Annoushka Ducas:
Are you near the sea?

Kit Kemp:
Yes. Yeah, we overlook a river. It's not a wonderful house by any stretch of the imagination, but the river view is lovely.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, it's just water, isn't it? There's something about water that is so-

Kit Kemp:
Calming.

Annoushka Ducas:
... wonderful. So calming. So let's talk about your next charm, which is a cricket bat. I was really excited about the cricket bat, because actually one of the very first designs I ever did, when we started Links of London was a cricket bat and ball on the other side, they were cuff links. So I was like, I said, "Oh, good." But the idea of making this cricket bat in gorgeous gold, yellow gold, I think, on the back and micro-pavé set diamonds on the front in white, and again, a ruby cricket ball sitting at the bottom of the bat. So I was just very excited about that, because I think it'll be absolutely gorgeous. But why did you choose a cricket bat?

Kit Kemp:
Well, the site of our first hotel was Dorset Square hotel and Dorset Square was the site of the first lord's cricket ground.

Annoushka Ducas:
That's amazing.

Kit Kemp:
So, of course, we had a cricketing theme that went throughout. So when you open the door, the balls are the door handles. And then, just famous cricketers. And then, we have in lights famous cricketing sayings, which is down in the restaurant, and it was just such a wonderful fun thing to do.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, I love the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Is that your approach, do you think, to life generally?

Kit Kemp:
Gosh, I hope so. But there is something about cricket that is just so particularly English. And there is a story, actually, behind it, as well, because Minnie's real name is Araminta Marigold, by third daughter. And it took us ages to come up with the name. So you have to register the name of your child within a few days, so almost on the final day, Tim went to the Marylebone registry office and filed Araminta Marigold. And so, the registrar there was Barbadian and she said, "Well, I've never heard of that name before." And anyway, the thing is, is that they got into dialogue and we had staying at that time some of the old cricketers. I think it was Wes Hall and someone called [Griffiths 00:34:11] who was a great big guy, he was the most fabulous bowler. And he said, "Well, if you're Barbadian, you probably like cricket, so why not come across with me." So instead of just registering the name, he came back with the registrar.

Annoushka Ducas:
I love that. That is hilarious.

Kit Kemp:
To the hotel, to the Dorset Square hotel bar and they happened to be down there. And so, Tim said he left her, actually, in the bar and then he got a letter from her a couple of weeks later saying that her daughter was expecting a baby and if it was a girl they were going to call it Araminta.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, that's such a brilliant... does history relate whether it was a girl?

Kit Kemp:
I know. That's the last we heard, but it was such a sweet... I'd forgotten about that.

Annoushka Ducas:
That's such a great story. I love that story. Now, onto your last charm, which I think is something that we both love, which is dogs, and it's called Moondog. And in fact, I had to kind of look it up, because I was like, "Moondog?" I just love the name, but when I did look it up, I realized you had designed fabrics around this Moondog. And in fact, when I looked it up, I was like, "Oh, that's quite difficult to do, as a charm." Mainly because the image is this lovely dog looking through a telescope towards the moon, but I think we need to put it on a disc, on a circular disc, and have it kind of semi-three dimensional. It'll be two dimensional on top of this disc. And the telescope, I think, should all be gorgeous diamonds with black rhodium so it feels like you're going to be looking at a nighttime sky. And I'm interested to know what materials you would make the dog in?

Kit Kemp:
Gosh, that's so difficult, isn't it? Moondog is, it's a dog at night looking through a telescope and it's actually a textile, it's a fabric. As it move horizontally across the fabric, you've got the new moon, the full moon, and the old moon, and then the dog, who's busy looking up. And it was actually about one of our Cavalier King Charles, Button. I always said to nanny Susan, we've still got nanny Susan, that we always call her Button Moon. So it was Moondog-

Annoushka Ducas:
Hang on a minute, is nanny Susan-

Kit Kemp:
Nanny Susan has been with us for 30 years. And she was nanny, then she was horsebox driver, now she's nanny to the dogs, and I dare say, any minute, she'll be nanny to Tim and I. So that is Moondog. And gosh, to make a jewelry out of Moondog will be quite hard. I mean, deciding the fabrics and things, it's quite difficult sometimes, because I love the lyrical, but it can't be childish. It has to always have that sophistication and be interesting for adults. And that's where folk art is so interesting, too, because that fulfills that notion, as well. But it's not getting too folky. There's a fine line all the time, and Moondog, I think, is just one that catches the imagination.

Annoushka Ducas:
So Kit, we've been through all of your life in seven charms. As you know, as a thank you, I'm going to make you one of your charms.

Kit Kemp:
I know. I keep thinking, "Oh, I'll do the cricket bat. No, I'll do the mannequin. No, I'll do Moondog. No, I'll do the monkeys." I mean, it's so hard, because actually looking at your drawings, they all look so fabulous.

Annoushka Ducas:
We can discuss a bit more, but just the principle.

Kit Kemp:
The principle of it all. I think, probably, I'll have to have the mannequin.

Annoushka Ducas:
Okay.

Kit Kemp:
I think because of the mannequin and the logo and everything else for-

Annoushka Ducas:
And the woman shape, being a woman.

Kit Kemp:
Yeah, and the woman shape. I think I'd probably go for that.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, how exciting. Well, I'm definitely going to do that for you. But last question is, when you're not around anymore and somebody were to find your seven charms or found this drawing, what would you want them to think about your life? What would be the legacy, if you like?

Kit Kemp:
Well, there is an element of joy throughout the whole thing. I mean, you could see that there are so many different things going on in my life. And, I mean, it's just the capacity to be doing more than one thing at a time, and that's what I really love, to have the opportunity. And I've arrived at this stage where I don't want to say no to anything.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, that's so wonderful. My mother, when I was growing up, no was the word I was absolutely not allowed to use in my-

Kit Kemp:
Really?

Annoushka Ducas:
... she would always say, "You can say anything, but you can't say no." And I think it's one of those things that has really carried me forward, because, particularly, in jewelry where people would say, "Oh no, you can't do that, because it doesn't work," or this or that and then I'd be like, "Okay, that's like red rag to a bull."

Kit Kemp:
I'm going to do it. Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
Anyway, thank you so much. I've so enjoyed talking to you.

Kit Kemp:
Oh, I've loved it, too.

Annoushka Ducas:
And, I don't know, it's been brilliant.

Kit Kemp:
Fabulous. Thank you.

Annoushka Ducas:
Great pleasure.

Kit Kemp:
That's so sweet. I'd love to have met your mum.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh yeah, my mum was awesome.

Kit Kemp:
She must've been totally awesome.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah, she was.




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