When you think of Barbados, you may see (think of) miles of golden beaches, the clear blue sea or maybe the native green monkeys. I doubt you would think of Broadway musicals and yet the glitz and glamour of Broadway has arrived in Barbados!
We are delighted to have been able to support our good friend and client, Mr Robert Bourque with his charitable trust “Broadway to Barbados” over the past five years. The trust brings over some of Broadway’s biggest stars from New York to take the guests through a musical journey of popular Broadway hits.
The trust was created to help buy vital equipment for Barbados’ main hospital, The Queen Elizabeth, which services not only Barbados but provides emergency care for many of the surrounding islands. When Mr Bourque approached us we were only too happy to support such a worthy cause. This year our Barbados showroom has donated some beautiful bespoke gifts to go into the event’s silent auction. We will continue to support this wonderful initiative for as they say on Broadway, “The show must go on!”
Prince’s Trust International is a youth charity recently established in Barbados with the aim of helping disadvantaged young people on the island gain vital skills to move into education, training or employment. The Trust, formally launched last November in Malta by its President HRH The Prince of Wales, has partnered in Barbados with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth for the first pilots of the ‘’Get Into’’ employability programme on the island. Jenny Blanc were delighted to support Prince’s Trust International by offering a work experience opportunity at our Barbados showroom during September 2016.
Shakieta Marshall has a strong interest in Interior Design and is very creative both as a current student of the Barbados Community College’s Art and Design programme and in her own time. Prince’s Trust International’s ‘’Get Into’’ programme provided the opportunity for Shakieta to begin to bridge the gap between education and employment. Shakieta spent a week and a half at our showroom in St. James where she gained hands on experience with some of the most important areas of the business. Whilst based in the showroom Shakieta assisted the team with pricing, cleaning and greeting customers as well as filing and organising fabric samples. Shakieta also visited our warehouse to measure, count and catalogue the fabric stock, giving her an overview of some of the practicalities of running a design and retail showroom.
Design Director Sue Thomas-Richardson who is Barbadian herself was based at the showroom during this time and was able to conduct training with Shakieta on floor planning, drafting, how to work effectively with design clients as well as taking Shakieta on a site visit to a West Coast residence. Shakieta put her knowledge and training to the test drafting a lamp and shade for a customer request.
The work experience placement was a real success and Jenny Blanc would like to thank Shakieta for all of her hard work. We’re happy to report that Shakieta will be staying on with us, working in the showroom on Saturdays. We look forward to her continued development towards a successful career in Interior Design!
Wednesday 30th November 2016 marks 50 years of independence for the island of Barbados and Jenny Blanc are very pleased and proud to join in the celebrations at our design showroom on the West Coast of the island. Our windows have been transformed for the occasion with beautiful floral arrangements reflecting the colours of the Barbadian flag. Fabulous African head ties in fabrics specially designed for the occasion and accents of gold provide the finishing touch for this ‘golden’ Anniversary.
The island will be alive with events and celebrations all week – the Jenny Blanc showroom will be closed on Wednesday 30th November reopening Thursday 1st December.
Tyra Woodroffe is our Design Showroom Assistant in Barbados and the winner of the inaugural Jenny Blanc Design Scholarship, in partnership with the Barbados Community College. Before we bid her farewell as she begins an exciting new chapter (furthering her design education in New York) Tyra has a few words to share about her time with the Jenny Blanc team!
As I approach my last few weeks with Jenny Blanc Interiors, I reflect fondly on my time as the first design scholarship winner. It has been an exciting journey of change from being a curious design student, to someone who has been able to witness firsthand, the processes, skill and dedication it takes to run a successful, inspirational design practice. And to believe that it all began almost two years ago!
My start at Jenny Blanc was a wonderful one with my time at the London showroom and design studio. Having the opportunity to experience travel is incredibly enriching in itself, as it encourages personal growth and expands one’s knowledge substantially. Added to that was the great hospitality and mentorship I was fortunate to experience in my 6 months with the UK Team. In such a creative field, actually being able to see, feel and interact with all the aspects that make a beautiful scheme come together is invaluable. And while with the UK design team lead by Design director Sue Thomas, I was able to witness the decision making process in an environment where access to a plethora of resources such as fabric, lighting and furniture is unlimited.
Although this time abroad was so stimulating, eventually homesickness set in and I happily returned to Barbados ready to take on second leg of the learning experience. The lovely Barbadian showroom provided a setting for me to find out all about retail, visual merchandising and installations as we manage local projects. The Barbadian team lead by Caribbean Director Emma Blanc have provided a unique shopping experience on the island with products both local and from around the globe.
Even after the prescribed one year duration of the scholarship had elapsed, the team was gracious enough to keep me on as the Assistant Showroom Manager where I’ve had such an unforgettable time. Every site visit, every satisfied shopper and every trade show have further solidified my passion for design. It was only natural that I take the next step and pursue even more experience and higher education for this career path. I am therefore, off once again for a full B.Sc Degree in Interior Design from an accredited New York university.
Despite excitedly anticipating this new chapter, is not without some sadness that I leave the fantastic Jenny Blanc establishment after having nestled so comfortably into its embrace. But I do so with heaps of affection and gratitude for my colleagues and confident that I’ve been equipped with an impenetrable foundation for the future of my interior design craft.
Last week London was abuzz with the excitement of the Chelsea Flower Show (widely considered to be the ‘greatest flower show on earth’). I thoroughly enjoyed it this year as always however, today I’m going to be handing the reins over to Design Director Sue Thomas-Richardson who has a very personal connection with one garden in particular. So without further ado – over to Sue!
‘As a Barbadian born and bred, I was of course delighted that the Barbados Horticultural Society have been awarded a gold medal (their eighteenth in 28 consecutive years) at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. My mother is a long serving member of the BHS and brought the first Barbados exhibit to Chelsea Flower show in 1985. She was heavily involved every year after until her retirement in 2010 at the grand age of 88 so it has a very personal connection for me. Barbados is a very small island but thanks to the dedication of members of the BHS and it’s team of volunteers (both on the island and here in the UK) we can not only have a presence at a world class exhibition such as the Chelsea Flower Show but take home a gold medal – an absolutely incredible achievement!
The theme for the 2016 exhibit, ‘This Place Barbados’ (in a year when we celebrate 50 years as an Independent Nation) vividly depicts the shape and topography of the island, complete with the country’s 11 Parishes, each one represented by different flowers and foliage, surrounded by several quintessential natural features and attractions. From the vibrant colours of Bridgetown Market and the Oistins fishing village in the south, to the swaying sugar cane and golden rum of St. Lucy in the north, visitors to the exhibit enjoyed a visual trip around Barbados that also magically reveals the magnificent underground splendour of Harrisons Cave and the lush botanical gardens found within the fertile tropical interior, including Orchid World, Andromeda, Flower Forest and Hunte’s Garden.
Perhaps even more impressive than the garden itself though is the work that goes on behind the scenes by the Barbados Horticultural Society and its team of dedicated volunteers to bring this little corner of Barbados to Chelsea. Every bloom and piece of foliage used in the garden was grown on the island before being carefully packed into 72 cases and flown to London, free of charge, by Virgin Atlantic. It is worthy of mention that the judges at Chelsea pay special attention to the condition and quality of the individual blooms and foliage so the Barbados Horticultural Society team deserves further high commendation for successfully growing and acquiring such magnificent floral material at a time when Barbados was suffering drought conditions.
One of the significant secondary roles of the BHS exhibit at Chelsea is to promote the importance of tourism to the economy and lifestyle of Barbados, as well as to portray how the amazing beauty of our natural environment is an integral factor in making our island such an attractive place to live or visit. On Monday’s special Celebrity and Media Day, Ainsley Harriott, long term friend of the country, charmed and entertained a steady stream of representatives of the press and media for over two hours. The tremendous BHS success story at the Chelsea Flower Show is a classic example of how Barbadians can achieve truly world-class standards when they work together as a team.’
The stunning photographs of the Barbados Horticultural Society’s ‘This Place Barbados’ garden seen here were taken by award winning flower and garden photographer Derek St Romaine. You can see more of his wonderful work on his website Garden Photo Library
I hope you have enjoyed todays peek at the ‘This Place Barbados’ garden! This year’s show is a particularly special one with Cleve West (who created the garden at our London showroom when we first opened 20 years ago) winning a gold medal for his ‘M&G Garden’. Raymond Blanc providing hospitality and my Son Olivier Blanc assisting with the Tom Smith Plant’s garden (pictured below). The Tom Smith Plant’s garden is a container grown fruit and vegetable garden designed to show what can be grown in a small space and was awarded a silver gilt medal at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. At last year’s Hampton Court Flower Show Oli won a bronze medal for his garden based on the world of Henri Le Worm, a colourful character created by Oli and his business partner, Charlotte Salt, which aims to inspire and educate children about growing, cooking and eating good food. The garden featured wonderful examples of home grown fruit and veg kindly provided by Tom Hare Plants so Oli was very pleased to be able to reciprocate and lend a hand at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. You can read about Oli’s success at last year’s Hampton Court Flower Show here and learn more about Henri Le Worm and his friends by visiting the website at www.henrileworm.com
Did you attend the Chelsea Flower Show this year? Do let me know your highlights!
This Wednesday marks 20 years to the day that Chrissie Marshall and I opened the doors to our beautiful showroom here in West London. Help us celebrate and join us for a glass of bubbly at our London or Barbados showrooms for the rest of this month! Enjoy some party nibbles and take 20% off the price of everything in store – our treat to say thank you for all your support over the last 20 years.
When I look at how far we have come I can’t quite believe it! Our vision back then was to be a source of beautiful, original furnishings, accessories and interiors expertise where people could shop in an environment that felt like a home from home.
After we opened our Teddington showroom we very quickly found ourselves designing homes for a very loyal, local client base. When those clients outgrew their West London town houses and moved out to the country, they brought us with them to create the perfect family home for this new phase of their lives.
Having Barbadian Design Director Sue Thomas-Richardson on board from the outset proved invaluable as our reputation gradually grew by word of mouth and we started designing tropical holiday homes for our clients in Barbados and other islands. With our Caribbean client base growing and Sue’s unparalleled understanding of the island, it was an easy decision to open our showroom in Barbados – a dream which came true in 2011! My inspiration was always to create the best Interior Design showroom on the island and this is certainly something we have achieved – my daughter Emma Blanc is now firmly rooted on the island and as Caribbean Director, is perfectly placed to run the showroom as well as providing a very personal link for our design clients on the island.
Today, with five International Property Awards under our belt (including the much coveted ‘World’s Best Interior Design, Private Residence’ in 2012), two stunning lifestyle showrooms, an exclusive range of Barbados made furniture as well as our own range of home accessories, I couldn’t be happier – or busier!
The sterling silver monkey bowl pictured above is our own unique design and is one of the pieces I’m the most proud of. Using natural coconut shells, each bowl is hand made by a skilled artisan – stylish, unusual and also versatile, it represents everything we stand for.
Before we dive headfirst into the next 20 years, here’s a little look at some of my favourite moments from the journey so far!
Since founding my interior design practice 20 years ago with Showroom Director Chrissie Marshall, my team has gradually grown from four to twenty and our office space has grown along with us. Our London premises is now nearly double the size and comprises our design studio, art desk, extensive sample libraries, showroom, PR and online media office along with the various other workspaces that are essential for running a business – and that’s before we even get to Barbados! Nurturing creativity alongside the daily tasks integral to a successful workplace is a tough balancing act but it’s safe to say that over the last 20 years I have learnt a thing or two about what works, and what doesn’t. Today I would like to share some of my tips for getting the most out of your working environment which you can apply whether your workspace is at home on the dining room table or in an office managing a team of people! I hope you find them useful and of course if you have any tricks of your own do let me know in the comments.
Fresh flowers in any work space instantly give me a lift. A few sweet peas, a hydrangea head or other perfumed flower will give off an incredible fragrance whilst looking fresh and natural – far nicer than the typical ‘corporate’ flower arrangement. At home I pick fresh flowers from my garden throughout the week to display on my desk in a beautiful glass tumbler – like the one pictured above. If I’m really in the mood I buy a little bouquet for everyone in the office to put on their desks. Trimming the stems means the water has less distance to travel helping the blooms last longer and the short, bottom heavy glass reduces the chances of it getting knocked over! If you work in an office with the traditional potted palm and peace lily, look after them! Water them regularly and wipe their leaves with a damp cloth to prevent them from gathering dust (which can affect the plant’s ability to photosynthesize and lead to a rather sad looking plant).
To-do lists that inspire are easy to achieve with the right pen. Choose a pen that flows freely (I won’t even mention the B word!) and is a pleasure to use. Then, put that A4 ruled note pad to one side and grab a big sheet of paper! Breaking out of the tyranny of lists will help your ideas flow and you may find the tasks seem much easier to handle. After all creative work isn’t a linear process so why should your lists be?
Dress your environment with things that help personalise the space and encourage employees to do the same. When people feel relaxed in their work environment it gives them confidence and this helps you get the most out of them creatively. A framed photograph and a pin board where you can collect images that inspire you (even if they’re not directly related to the task at hand) all help to create a positive environment. Walking through the design room in our London office I love seeing which samples and swatches have caught the team’s eye that particular week and it will often spark off a conversation or idea.
My secret weapon is 4711 perfumed tissues! This cologne is an absolute classic and is really uplifting and refreshing. These handy tissues are perfect for dabbing across your forehead and pulse points during an afternoon slump (and are much better for you than a cup of coffee!). I always keep a few sachets in my handbag as they’re much lighter to carry than a bottle of perfume, making them perfect for freshening up on the go. I’m always thankful for them at trade shows and other busy events! For particularly fraught days try Neom’s ‘Essential De-stress Kit’ (pictured below) which is available from our London showroom. The kit contains mini bottles of Neom’s De-stress Home Mist to spritz behind your head, Intensive Stress Relief Treatment to roll onto the pulse points and finally, De-stress On-The-Go mist to spritz over the face leaving you feeling restored and relaxed in just five minutes flat! Also available are Neom’s Essential Sleep Kit, Essential Energy Boosting Kit and Essential Mood Lifting Kit, all priced £20.
Stay hydrated by keeping a jug or decanter of lemon, orange, mint and cucumber water on your desk and treat yourself to a beautiful glass to drink from. That way when inspiration strikes and you wouldn’t dream of breaking your concentration for a trip to the watercooler, you’ll have refreshment close at hand. Modern office environments with their air conditioning can be incredibly dehydrating but drinking plenty of water will help you feel more alert whilst the fragrance of lemon is thought to improve concentration. To prepare, simply squeeze the juice of the citrus fruits into the water then finish with a few sprigs of mint, cucumber and thinly sliced lemon.
Beautiful stationary like my box file (pictured above) will give you a lift every time you use it! This particular file is covered in gorgeous paper by Colefax and Fowler and holds all the paperwork for my ongoing tasks. I really believe that the things you use every day should enhance your experience – whether that means jotting down notes in a colourful notebook or treating yourself to a special fountain pen that will last a life time. Don’t save the good stuff for special occasions, life is just too short! I have been using Smythson diaries for years and wouldn’t even consider buying anything else. The ‘Fashion Diary’ (pictured below) fits perfectly in my handbag but is still large enough to write down all my appointments, has a pocket at the back for any loose bits of paper such as tickets and has just the right amount of space for notes. I like to use the ‘page per week’ version so I can see at a glance what each week holds in store. I’ve really enjoyed using my ‘poinsettia red’ one this year and have already ordered a plum one for next year!
I really believe that everything around you should be beautiful including your work environment. I wouldn’t dream of having a cardboard box of tissues on my desk – instead I use the tissue box cover and butler tray pictured below which also holds my water glass. This set is an exclusive Jenny Blanc design featuring a gorgeous coral print. The glass is another of my exclusive designs which is handmade by a French artisan and is available in a range of colours from our London showroom.
A light grey background on your work computer will help rest your eyes in between tasks and stop any loud colours or patterns impacting your eye while you work. This is really important for computer aided design when you need to be able to judge colours on screen effectively.
Express yourself in whichever way suits you and make sure your team are able to do the same. Some of us do our problem solving aloud (otherwise known as talking to yourself!) and some in our heads. Some people prefer to discuss ideas or have things explained whilst others need to get up and sketch things out physically. If you’ve ever heard someone say ‘I see what you mean now’ – you can bet that they’re a visual person and the best way to communicate with them is to show them your ideas, not just tell them. Make sure that you and your team are free to work things out in the way that suits you – there’s no point in striving for a ‘paperless office’ if your team member prefers to write their thoughts down! By playing to everyone’s strengths you’ll be able to build a better creative working environment for all.
This year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show was blessed with wonderful weather for it’s 25th anniversary! It was a busy week for Jenny Blanc as her son Olivier Blanc’s award winning Henri Le Worm garden attracted hundreds of visitors.
Henri Le Worm is a animated character designed to inspire children to grow, cook and eat good food through an interactive and educational app designed by Olivier Blanc and Charlotte Salt. Henri’s colourful world was brought to life at this years RHS Hampton Court Flower Show by BBC gardener Chris Collins.
Jenny still found time to explore the show and admired the high quality of this years exhibitors. Here she shares some of her personal highlights.
Award winning gardens…
The Turkish Ministry of Culture & Tourism’s Garden of Paradise caught my eye with it’s riot of red, purple, orange and white blooms. The garden played with scale and proportion, placing tiny, brightly coloured wild flowers like heather and borage alongide stately lillies and exquisite ‘Benjamin Britten’ and ‘David Bussel’ roses to create a garden full of depth and interest. I really admired the bold use of colour here and encourage anyone who is considering dipping their toe into the water when it comes to unusual colour combinations in the garden to take the plunge!
It’s a well known adage that colours in nature rarely clash but it couldn’t be more true! Combining different shades and tones from the same colour pallete can look really sophisticated, especially when placed alongside lush green foliage and brilliant blue water features as seen here.
Another gold winning garden which I adored was the Noble Caledonia ‘Spirit of the Aegean Garden’ which used shades of cobalt, aqua and cornflower blue to evoke ‘the timeless notion of unspoilt lands, beautiful scenery, and lime-washed villages’. The bright blue wall inlayed with white trellis matched the curved outdoor seating, resulting in a garden which looked cool and inviting. I love using bright, clear colours for outdoor living as softer colours which may look vibrant indoors often appear washed out in the sun. Even in 34 degree heat this garden looked refreshing thanks to its cool colour pallet and carefully placed water features.
One of my favourite tips is to combine plants of different heights to create a layered effect, adding interest to boarders and flower beds. Try brilliant blue Agapanthus and white Cephalaria Gigantea alongside purple Veronicastum. Petersham Nurseries in Richmond is close to our London showroom and always has a wonderful selection of plants to choose from.
Beautiful garden accessories…
As regular visitors to the RHS Hampton Court flower show will know, there is much more to see besides the gardens themselves. This year’s exhibitors pulled out all the stops to create inspiring displays of accessories for outdoor living. I was pleased to discover Historic Royal Palace’s fantastic range of gifts for garden lovers featuring three wonderful new prints. These wellington boots and garden kneeler, featuring a crimson and viridian Tudor rose print, were my favourite and felt very apt given our location! They are also available in Baroque and Royal Crown prints from Historic Royal Palaces.
Sourcing outdoor furniture that is both robust enough to withstand the rigors of the British climate whilst harmonising with a natural setting can be tricky. Luckily for those at the flower show there was a fantastic range to choose from. The furniture and accessories that I selected for the Henri Le Worm Community Garden featured sustainable, natural materials in rustic, organic shapes like this coffee table/bench, rustic bench and side table. The organic shapes of the wood harmonised with the rest of the garden and provided an attractive focal point, even when not in use.
Of course garden furniture doesn’t have to be rustic – I also love some of the more contemporary pieces in the range like this steel topped table which would be fantastic for outdoor dining or as a dramatic focal point in a conservatory.
These glass hurricanes are so versatile – filled with delicate eucalyptus branches and topped with a floating candle they make a wonderful centrepiece for a dinner table or could be used as part of a wedding scheme to add height and create atmosphere. In the Henri Le Worm Community Garden we filled them with a display of rosemary and chillies to showcase these vibrant, fresh ingredients. You can get really creative with whatever materials you have to hand which is what makes them so popular in our London showroom.
After a busy day in the sun, this garden hut by Breeze House looked most inviting. Breeze House produce some wonderful garden buildings in which to entertain and dine – or just relax with a good book! Full of tropical style, the buildings feature Scandinavian Redwood frames with Canadian Forest Cedar roof tiles, completed with natural reed thatch. Each hut is big enough to accommodate a dining table and is the perfect way to bring some Island style to your garden. I think they would look wonderful styled with some of the home accessories available in our London and Barbados showrooms!
Wonderful British food…
Outdoor living goes hand in hand with outdoor dining so it was no surprise that this year’s show was full of wonderful things to eat. I was so pleased to discover Ogilvy’s British Orchard Honey – a raw honey, sourced from apple and pear orchards in Kent. Nothing beats the taste of real, artisan honey – it’s an entirely different experience to the overly sweet, mass produced variety that you find in the supermarket. I always try to buy my honey locally to support the independent farmers who do so much to protect our honey bees and to benefit from the wonderful anti-hayfever properties that local honey affords.
Simple Simon’s Perfect Pies were simply marvellous – I enjoyed their Highland Scotch Salmon pie so much I even took one home for supper. You needn’t take my word for it though as Simon’s pies are available to order online by the boxful and keep in the freezer for up to six months. They’re the perfect thing to have on hand when the cupboards are bare and the British Summer leaves you firing up the wood burner and reaching for a cardigan.
Now Summer is in full swing I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the RHS Flower Show through my eyes and are feeling inspired to introduce some big, bold floral colour into your garden this year. If you went to this year’s show do leave me a comment and let me know what you enjoyed the most!
For more information about Henri Le Worm (as well as delicious recipes!) visit the website here.
Jenny Blanc Interiors were proud to sponsor the Henri Le Worm Community Garden at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Henri Le Worm is a popular children’s app created by Jenny’s Son, Olivier Blanc and Charlotte Salt which aims to ignite a lifelong passion for food and cooking by engaging children using a range of animated characters, voiced by actor Simon Pegg. Henri’s colourful, virtual garden was brought to life at this year’s flower show by BBC horticulturalist Chris Collins and Jenny Blanc. Our garden caught the eye of the judges immediately, winning a bronze medal in its inaugural year!
Our delight at being awarded a bronze medal was doubled when Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall personally chose to visit the Henri Le Worm garden in order to learn more about the work that creators Oli Blanc and Charlotte Salt are doing with children, parents and schools. The Duchess met Jenny and the Henri Le Worm team before spending time looking around the garden. She then helped children from East Sheen Primary School participate in a cookery demonstration using fresh ingredients from the garden to create a delicious and refreshing gazpacho soup (very welcome on the hottest day of the year!).
The garden was divided into five sections featuring a demo garden for schools to water and plant, an edible shed, a recipe garden growing seasonal produce, an outdoor kitchen and a chicken coop! Visitors to the garden were encouraged to touch, smell and taste everything and went away with Henri Le Worm recipe cards so they can create some of Henri’s fantastic dishes at home.
The garden used bold blocks of colour to appeal to children – like the bright blue edible shed and orange brick work. This was complimented by a range of original outdoor furniture, fabricated from ecologically sustainable and recycled wood specially sourced for the garden by Jenny Blanc. “This, original, stylish garden furniture is unique and full of character. The ethos of using sustainably sourced materials chimes with the garden’s philosophy of encouraging a knowledge of nature and preserving it for future generations” Jenny Blanc
The garden also contained plenty of ideas that would be easy to re-create at home. For example, these wonderful insect houses which are great to look at but also provide important shelter for all kinds of creepy crawlies which help to keep a garden healthy.
The garden has been immensely popular throughout the week of the show and we’ve had some fantastic reviews. We were even featured on the BBC coverage of the show which is available now on iPlayer. The Flower Show may be over but life for the Henri Le Worm community garden has just begun! Following the show the entire garden will be relocated to a working farm in Charlton, South East London where it will become a community garden for local schools – we hope it will be the first of many.
The April 2015 issue of Living Barbados, the renowned magazine on the island, featured our wonderful Jenny Blanc Design Director, Sue Thomas-Richardson, whose knowledge of the island where she grew up has been fundamental in shaping the company as it stands today…
In 2002 award winning interior design company Jenny Blanc, set up their first office in Barbados from which to administer the increasing number of projects they were being commissioned to work on in the Caribbean. In December 2011 the company opened their highly successful lifestyle showroom in St. James which has become a target destination for visitors looking for beautiful, original furnishings for their homes. Barbados is a central hub for the rest of the Caribbean and the showroom serves to represent Jenny Blanc’s design style to the many holiday home owners on the island. Key to the success of their expansion into this area, has been Barbadian – born, Sue Thomas-Richardson, Design Director for the company, whose indispensable wealth of local knowledge and expertise ensured that the beautiful interiors they designed were perfectly suited for the tropical climate.
Sue comes from a very old Barbadian family, her ancestors having arrived on the island in the 1600’s as settlers of the New World. Her family all have a strong artistic leaning. Her mother, Audrey Thomas, internationally renowned and respected as a horticulturalist, is the shining light of the gold medals awarded over many years for the famous Barbados exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show. Audrey was awarded the Barbados Centennial Honour for her services to horticulture on the island and this year, at the eminent age of 92, she opened her beautiful garden to the public to raise funds for the Barbados Horticultural society. Two of Sue’s brothers own and manage Growing Things, one of the leading landscape companies in Barbados.
Sue was educated at Queens College in Barbados and in her teens threw javelin for her school and later Barbados. She held the Caribbean record for several years. In the 1970’s she joined her parents on an extended trip to the UK and decided to take the opportunity to further her education, finally training as a nurse and qualifying as an SRN in 1978.
Returning home in the 1980’s, Sue worked for several years in the travel industry for a British company specialising in luxury villa holidays on the West Coast of Barbados. She was based in the offices of real estate company, Alleyne & Aguilar, now Altmans Real Estate. She started her career in interior design when she was offered a job by Heather Aguilar-Swan, one of the most prominent designers on the island. Here she learnt all the essential basics of interior design and assisted on large hotel projects, private residences and commercial properties on the island. During this period, she tuned into her natural artistic talent and gained valuable expertise on designing in the tropics. She developed a love of paint techniques and in 1987 returned to London to study at the Leonard Pardon School in Knightsbridge. In 1990, she moved full-time to the UK as a freelance designer/decorator for interior designers both in the UK and Barbados. Sue was also a key member of the team at Holbein Collection in the UK, a leading manufacturer of bespoke curtain accessories. A painting commission introduced Sue to Jenny Blanc and thus an enduring design partnership was created.
In addition to the awards of World’s Best Interior Design for a Private Residence for a UK property in 2012 and Best International Interior Design for a Port St. Charles, Barbados Apartment in 2007, Jenny Blanc has won four awards for the design team’s work in the Caribbean. As Design Director, Sue’s knowledge and creativity were invaluable in these winning projects in some of the most prestigious areas of the island including the West Coast, Port St. Charles, Royal Westmoreland Estate and Apes Hill.
Sue is still Bajan to the core and very proud of her Barbadian heritage. Through her work she is very keen to promote the talents and expertise of her fellow Bajans. Many of the design projects include pieces of furniture she has designed and had made locally by skilled artisans in Barbados. Jenny Blanc is currently developing an exclusive range of Barbadian made furniture which will be available throughout the Caribbean and beyond. In 2014 Sue and Jenny created the Jenny Blanc Design Scholarship to enable design students from the Barbados Community College to fine tune their skills at a London college and gain invaluable hands-on experience at both their London and Barbados showrooms. The first scholarship winner has spent 6 months working at the London showroom and passed her exams in computer aided design with flying colours. She is now using her new skills and experience in the Jenny Blanc Barbados showroom.
Flowers are so essential for creating beautiful design, and I am thrilled that Jenny Blanc Interiors will be one of the sponsors of Henri le Worm children’s garden at this year’s Hampton Court Flower Show. Henri Le Worm is an exciting, interactive animated children’s app and website that aims to encourage children to engage with food and nature in a fun and playful way. Created by Olivier Blanc and actress Charlotte Salt, Henri le Worm and his amazing cooking adventures brings to life the journey of plot to pot, with the voice of Simon Pegg as the characters.
The opportunity to contribute to help create the shows garden at this year’s prestigious Hampton Court Flower Show (30 June – 5 July 2015) not only seemed an exciting step, but a natural way to encourage children to get back outside exploring and gardening.
The Henri le Worm children’s garden (stand number F443) will be overseen by horticulturist Chris Collins and will be delivered to an RHS standard. The centre of the garden will have an outdoor kitchen area where Raymond Blanc will be doing a cooking demo using ingredients directly from the garden.
The garden, will be full of exciting and interactive features such as an edible shed, hanging baskets, a heritage fruit border, raised beds bordered by carved sleepers and colourful gravel and to top it off there will be a 3 meter wicker sculpture of Henri himself! Jenny Blanc Interiors will be displaying a wonderful furniture range, hand-made using natural materials.
Children will be encouraged to touch, smell and taste the fresh produce and learn more about Henri and his friends. Jenny Blanc Interiors have provided some beautiful garden furniture to add to the ambience and there will be a member of the team with information on site for interested parties throughout the show. We would be delighted if you could come and join us to enjoy this lovely event and the garden we have helped to create.
The recipient of the inaugural 2014 Jenny Blanc Design Scholarship, Tyra Woodroffe, is back from London and seeking to inspire other students at the Barbados Community College.
Woodroffe, a 19 year-old graduate of the BCC’s Design Program, this week visited the institution after completing a six-month stint at the England headquarters of international designers, Jenny Blanc Interiors.
Along with giving an overview of her “eye-opening” experience in London to the BCC’s 2014-2015 Interior Design class, Woodroffe and Jenny Blanc’s Caribbean Director, Emma Blanc, presented the students with hundreds of samples of fabric of varying colours, textures and designs.
“Designing is an exciting career and my trip to London allowed me to be more involved in the hands-on aspect. It was different and enlightening and the exposure also allowed me to benefit from a wider scope of design techniques and experiences,”
Explaining why she opted to provide the current BCC students with such a varied range of fabric samples, the emerging designer said BCC students were always challenged to find wide varieties of fabrics and they would certainly be useful.
This was underscored by Design Tutor, Stephen Jackman, who accepted the samples on behalf of the class and thanked Woodroffe and Jenny Blanc for their kind gesture. “Fabric samples are essential for interior designers and will enhance their portfolios and knowledge,” he said.
While in England, Tyra also succeeded in gaining City and Guilds certification in computer-assisted designing (AutoCAD 2), which was presented to her Jenny Blanc Design Director Sue Thomas-Richardson. The qualification will fulfil the second half of her scholarship programme through a six-month attachment at the Holetown-based showroom of Jenny Blanc in Barbados
Through the partnership with the BCC, Tyra emerged as the first winner of the Jenny Blanc all-expenses-paid scholarship last June after students were assessed on their course-work and a special project that included the interior design of a four-bedroom luxury home – complete with furniture, fabrics, lighting and functional spaces.
The next scholarship will be offered in 2016 and Jenny Blanc Interiors also revealed to students that the top two BCC students from the 2014-2015 class and the top two from the 2015-2016 class will all be eligible to compete for the prized all-expenses paid scholarship.
And in Tyra’s Words…
Having settled happily back into the warm embrace of the Caribbean beauty that is my island home Barbados, it is no doubt that I’m also enjoying the second phase of the Jenny Blanc design scholarship. With the comfort of a familiar environment, I’m now experiencing the other side of the Jenny Blanc business with renewed zeal.
The Barbadian team has welcomed me with open arms and I feel as though I’ve adapted happily into the dynamic of their operation. That being said it’s very valuable to note the differences in the happenings of the two locations and what particular skills they develop. The main design office of the company resides in London where they have the resources to handle larger scale projects in a comprehensive way. This allows for first hand exposure to the vast range of fabric, furniture and accessory supply companies the world has to offer, whereas in the Barbados office, things are hands on in a different capacity. The focal point here is the retail aspect where other variables come into play. This means that design is developed from a merchandising standpoint where products are displayed for sale and to inspire those visiting the showroom. Successfully inspiring onlookers, who may be in need of a designer, encourages them to choose your establishment. Attention to detail, proper maintenance and excellent customer service – while having a knack for very subtle, gentle persuasion – can go a long way.
A substantial amount of business traffic occurs in Barbados where many clients can need anything from a single room revamp through our Just Rooms service, an entire refurbishment, or a new build project. The challenge of going into spaces, having conversations with clients and measuring for initial drawings is an exciting one. Eventually it is followed by the final installation process where you interact directly with the pieces of a scheme that begin to transform a residential or commercial interior. The practical and functional nature of design then becomes most apparent. I look forward to being involved in this process in the upcoming months with the team.
Time has been going very swiftly but the experience here is enjoyable while beneficial. I still reflect on the fond and amusing memories of my UK trip and feel so fortunate to have been blessed with this opportunity that has aided in my personal growth in so many ways.
Our Caribbean Director and resident of Barbados, Emma Blanc, talks about the world famous performing arts festival at Holders Season… The 22nd Holders Season hosted by the Kidd family in the beautiful grounds of the 17th century Holders Plantation House overlooking the beautiful West coast, has yet again been one of the high lights of this year’s season in Barbados. Wendy Kidd, producer of the festival, pictured below with model daughter Jodie ensures that each year is as memorable as the last and this year has been no exception. Many visitors plan their time in Barbados to coincide with this event and it is a must do in most of our diaries, especially mine as I spent many years in the Performing arts and events before moving into the Design world.
This year the first two evenings featured a Cabaret Dinner, where guests saw performances from acrobats and magicians in the Holders Gallery.
The following nights saw performances including The Music of Hollywood, and other themed nights such as Cajun, Cuban and American Soul and the City performed by artists from all over the world. The Theatre Night was opened by the OTT (Operation Triple Threat) – a developmental performing arts program for local students between the ages of 7 and 21, a division of “Live-Breathe Music!” a company dedicated to offering superior training to musicians and aspiring ones and also one of this year’s beneficiaries of the festival. OTT will also be performing their version of THE WIZ next month at the Frank Collymore Hall in our capital, Bridgetown.
The programme of events saw its finale on Saturday 21st March with a Gala night featuring the UK’s most wonderful Opera Band “ Blake” – back this year by popular demand along with the very talented Canadian singer songwriter Sarah Boulton all preceded by the Mosaic Steel Orchestra. A brilliant end to another fantastic Season.
After that dreadfully cold winter we’ve had, March means spring, and all of a sudden hundreds of flowers are in season. I just love delicate pinks and greens together. Our Senior Designer, Abbie, presented her mood board on our blog back in January – look out for her new mood board coming up in the next few weeks. She used soft pinks and mossy greens to freshen up a feminine bedroom for spring. We loved it so much we made it our London Showroom window!
Pretty spring flowers bring softness, intrigue, and of course a wonderful fragrance to any room as well as enhancing already existing colours and textures. I simply love little antique vases and jugs that you can fill with all kinds of wild flowers for a very natural look. I visited my favourite flower shop The Secret Garden in Thames Ditton, Surrey, which was absolutely full of a magnificent array of flowers in the lead up to Mother’s Day. With two weeks to Easter, what better way to decorate your home than with fresh, seasonal flowers. The pretty yellows, pinks and blues signal that spring is truly here. From Narcissus and Tulips to Cowslips and Cherry Blossom, there is a huge amount to choose from.
Here at Jenny Blanc we sponsor the Broadway to Barbados Charitable trust, whose Chairman & Project Coordinator is our friend and client Robert J. Bourque. The trust has been set up to raise money for The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, especially its new Medical Intensive Care Unit, of which the island is in great need. The trust also aims to create a ‘Nurses Appreciation Program’ to improve the morale of 600+ nursing staff, as well as the repair of equipment, training programs, and a ‘Kids Helping Kids Program.’ Every year this fantastic organisation puts on a Broadway Musical Revue over a period of seven days, flying the best Broadway stars to the island for a truly memorable experience, and to raise money for this important cause.
This year Emma Blanc our Caribbean Director, and Sue Thomas-Richardson our Design Director accompanied some of our wonderful clients and friends to a performance on Thursday 19th February 2015 at Frank Collymore Hall. They gathered at the famous Tides restaurant for drinks and canapés before the performance, serving Sir Cliff Richard’s wine Vida Nova, which he has recently launched in Barbados.
The performance was produced by award-winning Neil Berg, who has created many Broadway hits including The Prince and the Pauper and Closer Than Ever. The cast of Broadway Stars performed hits from The Phantom of The Opera, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jersey Boys and Gypsy. This year’s theme was ‘Return to Paradise’, and is sponsored by Diamonds International and Bulgari amongst other organisations.
– Broadway to Barbados is a registered charity No. 1057
John Chandler is a great friend of the company and a much loved figure in Barbados. John and his wife Rain, established a wonderful reputation for their absolutely fabulous Sunday Buffet Lunches and private functions at Fisherpond House, which was voted Michael Winner’s ‘Best Personal Restaurant Experience’. Prior to this, John was the Owner and general Manager of The Ocean View Hotel which was one of the Grand Old Dames of Barbados hotels, host to a glittering array of prestigious and glamorous clientele, Norman Parkinson, Brian Ferry and David Linley to mention a few. It was often used as a stop over by the residents and visitors on their way to Mustique.
Jenny and Emma Blanc were thrilled to attend the launch of John’s sensational new book Hotel Barbados: My Life of Discretion at the Ocean View, in the presence of Sir Cliff Richard, who has written the forward to the book.
The launch was held at Lancaster Great House, a beautiful plantation house which John and Rain have recently bought and refurbished. Much to the delight of their many patrons, they are scheduled, once again, to open their doors for the continuance of their famous Sunday Buffet lunches, wonderfully lavish functions and private dinner parties.
The hospitality of John and Rain in their new home, Lancaster Great House, will of course reflect the traditions of the lavish and grand entertaining that would have played a big part in the history of this lovely plantation house.
You may have noticed our posts on Facebook and twitter. Jenny Blanc was so excited to be involved in the launch and we were delighted to host a book signing at our gorgeous Showroom in Sunset Crest, Barbados on Friday 12th December 2014, where glasses of celebratory champagne and delicious mince pies were enjoyed by many of our friends and regular clients who were invited to attend .
Hotel Barbados is on sale now in our Barbados Showroom, BDS$85.00 and will arrive in our London Showroom in the New Year.
visit the showrooms in London and Barbados. It was so good to meet Amanda Redman MBE. Of course praise for her exceptional part in New Tricks came up in conversation as she chatted away to us on our very own Jenny Blanc Collection casting couch.
Laid-back Lifestyle Clients wanting to create their tropical paradise in the Caribbean have a set of criteria based on holidaying in the many varied islands from Mustique, Barbados, The Grenadines and Turks & Caicos- this is to name just a few of the islands all with their own version of tropical paradise. It’s a very different place from home with chilling out and relaxing at the very top of the wish list. Over the last week or so we’ve been reporting on the design influences from Maison & Objet in Paris, and how sophisticated recycling is influencing architecture, decoration, furniture and accessories for interiors. Interpreting this look for the Caribbean creates a style the design team love to achieve for clients with indigenous materials and vegetation playing an important part – it’s a look which also translates beautifully for a peaceful Mallorca retreat or a rural mountain getaway-from-it-all in the South of France. Palm leaves form canopies of shade with furniture hewn from local woods. Colours reflect the water’s edge and the morning sky and atmosphere is created with mood lighting. These pictures tell a strong design story which the design team believe is so in keeping with relaxed living- it’s so easy to imagine being there and living the dream.
If Maison is anything to go by it’s going to be a black Christmas – colourwise that is. We were treated to a lunchtime chat with Michael Aram and heard all about his recently launched ‘jewelry’ collection at Bloomingdales, New York. Quite beautiful and now on our Santa wish list. This very chic acorn decoration by Michael epitomises the trend for a black and metallic Christmas. Even for Christmas the recycling theme we’re seeing everywhere continues. These incredible candles are burnt palm roots filled with heavenly scented wax as only the Italians know how. Just to finish off the Santa wish list, these exquisite shagreen and marble boxes topped with shells and coral are a taster of the collection at the Barbados showroom this Christmas. On a furniture front the London design team are always very focused on finding specifics for client’s projects. It’s just one of many places we use to source something unique and to brief. There’s a definite shift around the show for combining velvets with wool suitings – a very elegant ‘crombie’ look. Contrast piping in fabric or leather and studs are the finishing detail. At JENNY BLANC outdoor verandah furniture is just as important for our international clients.We represent Manutti in the Westward Islands, and Maison is the ideal way to experience first hand new and exciting pieces added to the range.These stunning Elements loungers are made for sleeping under the sun and the stars. The Air collection of sofas and loungers appear to float and the colours just melt into the landscape of an infinity pool. The best outdoor furniture relies on the quality of the materials combined with excellent design.These shapely chairs by Manutti have it all. Turquoise in its many shades is a recurring theme.These are just snapshots caught on IPad around the show which sum up this gentle shade. When you’re at Maison it’s the flower displays which stop you in your tracks. And, the last stop of the day ….. The Opera House at Place de La Madeleine for dinner with Michael Aram at the world renowned Opera Garnier. The select group included the great and good from Bloomingdales Dubai, Gum Moscow and Bemen Istanbul. Chef Stephane Bidi created a special menu for the evening with Acte I, II and III. Conjur up how beautiful Green Peas Gazpacho, Cod with Preserved Lemons and Lemon Thyme and The Classic Opera Cake could be. What an end to an inspiring day.
September’s a big month for the shows, kicking off with Maison & Objet in Paris. As always the design team catch a fleeting glimpse of Gare du Nord and the streets of Paris as we head off to the exhibition centre close to the airport at Paris Nord Villepinte. It’s also one of the main buying trips for the showrooms in London and Barbados and there are seven large halls to get through.
It’s always good to see directional ideas with colour and to be inspired. So many pretty pastels around the show with turquoise making a big comeback. The most relevant accent colour is orange made all the more beautiful combined with interesting metallics. Designs are whimsical with birds and birdcages everywhere around the show.
The use of recycled materials has been taken to a whole new level with some of the most exciting brands creating stunning furniture and accessories. Using traditional craft skills combined with authentic decorative materials the results are staggering. Here’s a list of the materials we’ve drooled over – mother of pearl, petrified wood,horn, selenite stone, semi precious stones and eggshell.
Maison is THE show for sourcing planters which are very much part of interiors and exteriors for projects happening in the Caribbean. This fabulous display is based around imposing fibre glass shapes which are ideal to keep the weight down which is so important from a shipping and installing point of view. The outer ‘skins’ are crafted in wonderfully organic materials such as oyster shells, pencil graphite, pine bark, burnt and polished eggshell, lava and coconut. A recycling paradise.
Wall art is everywhere around the exhibition. This piece features metal lily pads and blooms and pottery fish.
There’s so much to report on at the show so we’ll be posting at the end of today’s visit too. Time to close the iPad and join the crowds at Gare du Nord !