Sunday, 23 September 2012

Jamie Oliver chooses Folly&Glee lampshades

Time to share a really exciting commission I completed earlier in the summer - 7 big standard lampshades for Jamie Oliver's new mega restaurant, bakery and bar at Gatwick Airport. Its well worth watching this clip of Jamie explaining just how he's hoping to change the face of restaurant eating with this huge venture.
I didn't get to meet Jamie but I did get to work with his amazing design consultancy Blacksheep. Blacksheep have won just about every design award there is going for hospitality and restaurant interiors. They have an uncompromising reputation for throwing away the rule book and creating amazing spaces that still work. I'd read about their work on Jamie's  Union Jacks and loved that the design celebrates Britishness with all kinds of nostalgic and quirky finds. There's stuff from the 50s, 60s and 70s  all given a modern twist. But Gatwick  incorporates a bakery, a Jack's Bar and a Jamie's Italian and is set to serve more than 1000 breakfasts alone a day all frshly cooked on the premises. It's a groundbreaking concept for Airports where food is generally simply re-heated and lets face it sad.

BlackSheep Design
Cripes! It was clear from the off then that Blacksheep really wanted to push the boundaries of what people expect from an airport bar and that made this commission super exciting. Here's part of my brief from Designer Emma Freed,  "we want to create a warm and inviting bar space to enjoy a quick pint, with a subtle nod to yesteryear and postwar nostalgia. We are doing this with custom printed formic table tops, worn leather armchairs and some great vintage chandeliers and cushions. Importantly the bar also has to encapsulate Jamie Oliver’s cheeky chappy persona, so on top of all of this there is lots of big signage, hand painted slogans and graphics and a great Tea-Rex dinosaur mural!”

Photo courtesy Blacksheep
No ordinary lampshades then. Something out of the ordinary for sure. How about an "inside out" lampshade. A plain and modest outer with a vibrant burst of nostalgic original vintage fabric on the inside. Eureka!

I was nervous about finding just the right quality and weight of natural undyed linen. An intense search came up trumps and I'm really pleased with the linen I have in 3 colourways: natural, black and cream. Its fine enough to give a lovely smooth handrolled edge and allow just the right of reflection of the inner pattern through once lit.

Photo courtesy Blacksheep
That effect really seems to work and Blacksheep have commented on how well the lampshades add to the intimate atmosphere they wanted to create all the way along the main  balustrade and in front of the keg room.

Choosing the inner fabrics from the barkcloth stash went well too. There were a couple of first choices that didn't work given the width of fabric required for such large lampshades. One quirky English boating scene would have looked great but the directional print just wouldn't co-operate...not even for Jamie! 

There was a moment of panic when on delivery to the electrical contractors I was told the shades would never pass stringent airport health and saftey rules. Everything in an airport has to either be bolted to the floor or ceiling by way of specialist tools presumably in case of exuberant holiday makers deciding to play lampshade volleyball. Lordy I had visions of my shades chucked out, forlorn and unloved atop a skip somewhere by the side of the A23.

I should have had more faith however as there are  ways and means to do these things and Jamie Oliver is clearly on a mission to transform Airport hospitality. If the man can get the first proper gas ovens into an Airport, calm Security by changing the size of kitchen knives and build an explosive proof storage room for his flour...then ensuring a few lampshades could be fitted safely was never going to be a real issue. I'm REALLY chuffed to have played a small part in making one of our major Airports a somewhat cosier, more soulful place to spend time.Cheers Jamie for the opportunity.

If you'd like a Jamie style "inside-out" shade just let me know. It's a method of shade making I've really enjoyed and works for most shapes and sizes. When you think about it if hanging as a ceiling pendant the inside of your lampshade is more on display than the outer. And of course for those who just want a touch of midcentury/retro without screaming "I love vintage" they're perfect. I'll be listing a few in the shop over the next few days or get in touch at


  1. OMG you are so bloody brilliant Polly!!! What a wonderful commission and your shades are just beautiful. Clever, clever you x

  2. They are brilliant. Congratulations on such a great commission, and fulfilling it in such an innovative and stylish way! Rachel :)

  3. Hooray! What absolutely amazing news! Lampshades for Jamie and inside-out ones at that: fabulous! And congratulations of course, you deserve it so! :-)

  4. The lampshades look fantastic!What a brilliant idea!Well done!

  5. Fantastic lampshades! What a brilliant idea! Well done!

  6. Just brilliant! You must be super-mega chuffed! They are great shades. Did you have to fire proof the inner material?

  7. Ha! We were at Gatwick recently and had breakfast at Jamies and then wandered around admiring the decor, including the gorgeous lampshades...I didn't twig that they were yours until I read this! Huge congrats! They look stunning :)



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