Pavilion Company: London travels

Love Letter to London

By Gabrielle James, The Pavilion Company

Not all things can be solved with a pair of sunglasses. That will always be true. However, I can list 2 things that CAN be solved with the RIGHT pair of sunglasses.

  1. You can shield your sensitive eyes from a glare- induced headache caused from an overcast day.
  2. You can stumble into the middle of the bustling Covent Garden and accidentally emerge from the eyewear store with a just-enough-to-sting retail purchase to make someone feel like you stole just a little bit of London cool. (see the credits below to understand what store I am talking about, if you haven’t already seen me walking around blatantly modeling my newest designer eyewear).

Being from Seattle, I’m not a stranger to a cloudy day. The gloomy stereotype is real on the days that it is. But London has it figured out. The Tower Bridge is painted blue. Many things in London are painted blue. I know the real answer of why things are blue is some relation to national pride and country color scheme, yada yada yada…. But whether they did it on purpose or not, even the grayest London day, is still blue. Genius! London has successfully fooled me into thinking the sky is blue…when it’s not.

Another note…did you know the big bridge that everyone thinks of when they think of London, is NOT The London Bridge? The one that you are thinking of is The Tower Bridge. The London Bridge is a quite boring, purely functional, and unadorned concrete water crossing. Once again, London had fooled me. The Tower Bridge is lovely, and as already mentioned, it’s blue. It’s the bridge I will remember that helped us walk over the brown river Thames.

Traveling is hard, even grueling sometimes. When traveling between time zones, the fact that time itself is made up as an organizational construct is even more apparent. It’s just too bad my body can’t keep up with the man-made qualities of time. The 8-hour time change between Seattle and London is intense. I think it was my fault though. I messed up my first entrance to London. I made the decision to take a red-eye flight. This made sense with the practical aspect of being able to arrive to London during the daytime and being able to check into the hotel at the right time, etc. This was an incorrect decision since London should be seen for the first time at night. The day version of London is stately and proud, but the evening version of London is enough to make jet-lag scared. For certain, my next trip to London will be planned to arrive in the evening. Lesson learned. Thank you London.

The exterior color palette of London is blue, gray, white, and palace beige (see what I did there). BUT, the interior color palette of London is a menagerie of pattern and jewel tones. It’s yet another trick that London has played. I cannot remember anything feeling dreary since the interior spaces were so layered with quirky color schemes. There’s so much color, that it’s neutral… Squint at something heavily patterned and I think that will make more sense.

We went to London for design inspiration and the biggest take-away is not necessarily design specific, but it’s more of a speed. The speed of London is designed to be fast-fast-fast-slow: get to where you are going, have a purpose, plan-ahead, but then… once you get there, slow down. Pause, take a moment to enjoy the details of life. Even in the mundane. You have to slow down, otherwise you’ll fall on your face while going up the creaky, winding stairs with the curved wood stair skirts. You have to slow down, otherwise you’ll get really confused when trying to find the dangling pull-cord to flush the toilet. You have to slow down, otherwise you’ll miss the fact that the cabinets are hand-painted. You can see the brush strokes proof that a human-being was there. It’s not a perfect, factory-sprayed finish… and you know what… it still looked damn fine.


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