`Laurent Perrier` is a name familiar to Lussorian readers as the legendary French champagne house, at once steeped in tradition and yet up to speed with contemporary culture. Every year the company colludes and collaborates with artists, chefs, designers and architects on exciting projects and 2011 is no exception. They`ve appointed award winning designer Luciano Giubbilei to create their garden at the Chelsea Flower show under the theme of `nature and human intervention`. To find out more about this commission and the final garden design I was invited to meet the team at another Perrier/ Flower show partnership : The Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Floral Afternoon Tea at The Connaught.
This Mayfair hotel is widely known for it`s stylish dining and five star service, it made the perfect destination for a late lunch topped with champagne. Giubbilei arrived at the beautifully dressed table bursting with enthusiasm about his work down at SW1`s Hospital Road. He described how the garden has been divided into two distinct areas, a structured space that evokes calm, resting and meditative moods and a separate area that is densely planted with elegant lines. The concept is romantically themed , with maroon, bronze and soft pink tones, evocative of the Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé champagne.
The flow of conversation was interrupted only by the arrival of silver platters laden with the most exquisite sandwiches imaginable and no wonder, they`d been crafted by the two Michelin-starred chef, Héléne Darroze. Her petit squares of smoked Scottish salmon sat dressed in lemon cream laced with wild fennel, we dined on chunks of robust brioche that sandwiched duck foie gras mousse in with rhubarb chutney and real elder flowers. Ribbons of jasmine and sprigs of fragrant violets wove their way in amongst the savoury treasures and for a moment there was silence
However, the spell didn`t last long as flutes of pink Perrier tend to keep things light and frothy!
Giubbilie carried on where he left off, telling us about working with a Japanese architect a British artist who have both contributed key elements respectively to the garden with a sensory bamboo pavilion entitled `Wind` and three striking commissioned sculptures. `The process of creating a beautiful space at the Chelsea Show is an amazing opportunity to bring forth what I am passionate about – through the theme of nature and human intervention the intention is to bring together garden, art and architecture in a composition that reveals, compliments and enhances a shared philosophy – working with the revered Kengo Kuma and Peter Randall-Page is wonderful, but the most exciting part for me will be to see visitors` reactions at the show`.
Giubbilei didn`t manage to see our reaction to his garden that afternoon but he did get see our faces when a towering tier of stunning patisseries arrived. Tiny diamond shaped lemon & lavender tarts sat next to pots of chocolate flower and poppy seed mascarpone, cherry meringues and nutty nougat wrestled for our attention as warm scones also appeared along with an incredible selection of fruity comfiture, all fresh from the Connaught bakery. Pots of exotic tea infused with rose, jasmine and oriental spice complimented the sugary treats and filled the air with a wonderful fragrance.
I love the way a French champagne house has chosen to work with an Italian designer, a Japananese architect and a French chef to celebrate the most English of traditions: an afternoon tea in honour of the Chelsea flower show. It`s the fantastically international way to be British and I strongly recommend you give it try!
The 2011 RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 24-28 May.
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