Designers Vin + Omi give us an exclusive look at the workings of a creative partnership with London’s exclusive Cumberland Hotel
London Fashion Week has been and gone again. It happens twice a year, once in February and once in September. It showcases what we’re likely to see on the streets six months later. So the September shows featured Spring Summer 2015 collections.
Around a hundred fashion shows pop up in September, some under the banner of the London Fashion Week and held in the main tent at Somerset House – which comes with a long list of restrictions and controls. But, increasingly, many of the shows are independent. Over £100m worth of orders are placed during fashion week. Digitally it’s getting hotter too; research from Twitter found that 94% of its users are aware of the event, while 74% have an interest in LFW.
As designers, we need a venue to show in and this is where London’s spaces turn into creative housing for shows and presentations. Last season we showed at The Mayfair Hotel, this year we wanted a larger space with a supportive team to make it all happen and approached the Cumberland Hotel as it has a reputation for creative interventions.
The lobby of the Cumberland Hotel
To discover more about the legacy of the Cumberland Hotel, we interviewed Sam Jones, the hotel’s Value Centre General Manager.
Vin + Omi: Tell us about the Cumberland
Sam Jones: “The Cumberland Hotel is situated in the heart of London, where Oxford Street meets Park Lane. We are the second largest hotel in London with 1,019 rooms, 27 meeting and events spaces and five restaurant, bar and dining spaces. We’re an iconic, modern and luxurious hotel with cutting edge contemporary design. Over the years we’ve been host to the rich and famous – boasting celebrity residents from Muhammad Ali to Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix held his final interview here at the Cumberland and in homage to him we created The Hendrix Suite.
V+O: What does a Value Centre General Manager do? What does ‘adding value’ mean for a hotel?
As a VCGM, I am responsible for executing an industry leading business plan to ensure the hotel is a go-to destination and a fantastic place for our guests to stay – as well as a commercial success. Currently my areas of operations are all of our five food and beverage outlets and 27 meeting and events spaces.
For me, adding value is all about putting the customer at the heart of what we do and looking at ways to enhance each of our guest’s experience during their stay. If I can do that and keep my staff happy then I’ve done my job.
V+O: Why do you think adding a creative team, like Vin + Omi to the hotel adds value? How has the experience gone so far?
For me, having creative teams such as Vin + Omi adds to the hotel’s value in many ways. It can take you down routes and open up opportunities that you otherwise may not consider. Some people perceive a hotel as a place just to lay your head, but for the team here at the Cumberland, we see a stay in a hotel as much more than that. It should be an experience and we’d like to think that our guests will want to return time and time again.
Working with creative brands like Vin + Omi can really help create a unique experience – and now we’re looking at additional ways to build on our relationship and create more exciting and unique projects that will add value for our guests.
V+O: What is your view on the rise of creatively themed hotels? Tell us about the Cumberland and what artworks it has and what creative interventions it has had in the past.
With London being a thriving capital, it’s not short of hotels. So any hotel that offers a point of differentiation is a good thing. That said, it’s all about the delivery of service and the experience that should stay in the customers’ thoughts long after the stay itself. So execution is paramount!
The Cumberland was originally designed with contemporary art in mind and we have works from artists such as the English sculptor Sean Henry, whose ‘Man with potential selves’ collection is in our lobby. The artist draws his inspiration from the everyday, and yet his work prompts questions about identity, humanity and man’s potential.
We collectively thought our first collaboration should be a fashion show in the hotel’s breakfast restaurant. But how do you transform a breakfast restaurant into a catwalk show area?
We brought in Frederick’s Designer Flowers and they came up with an ingenious way to disguise the restaurant ceiling. Metres of chicken wire and boxes of delphiniums transformed the area into a fashion venue!
Frederick William transforming a restaurant into a catwalk space © Roberto Pérez
With the show space ready and relationship with the hotel established, it’s show time! See part 2 tomorrow…
Discover more about Vin + Omi here
Find out more about the Cumberland Hotel here
Find out more about Frederick’s Designer Flowers here