VIDAL SASSOON AWARDED AT ST PAUL CATHEDRAL
It’s not every day you’re asked to visit an off-limits historical landmark to
fete not one but two of your heroes. But last night we did just that at the 2011
London Design Medal ceremony, held at the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Architect Thomas Heatherwick (right), a former medal recipient and one of this
year’s judging panel, nominated the hairstylist (and architecture enthusiast)
for what he called Sassoon’s contribution to design and great affect on the
Sassoon speaks of his start in ‘hair design’, as a shampoo boy in the years
after the Second World War
Vidal Sassoon and Ron Arad with their respective awards
Nearly 150 guests – esteemed architects, designers and industry titans –
sipped Veuve Clicquot by Nelson’s Tomb as Ben Evans, director of the London Design
Festival, introduced this year’s honouree, the incomparable architect and
designer Ron Arad, who spoke wearing his trademark hat. But perhaps the most unexpected
thrill was the appearance of London-bred ‘hair designer’ Vidal Sassoon,
recipient of the festival’s first-ever lifetime achievement award.
Architect Thomas Heatherwick, a former medal recipient and one of this year’s judging panel,
nominated the hairstylist (and architecture enthusiast) for what he called
Sassoon’s contribution to design and great affect on the wider culture. In turn
Sassoon, in from LA with his wife Ronnie, reflected movingly on his early career
and unexpected trajectory to hair revolutionary.
Nadja Swarovski sponsored the evening, in part to showcase John Pawson’s new
installation, a giant crystal lens mounted at the base of Christopher Wren’s
18th-century spiral staircase, and reflected by a convex mirror suspended high
in the tower’s cupola. Coupled with this impressive spectacle, the evening was
an apt way to kick off a festival that’s got bigger and more ambitious with each
of its nine years.
By Ellen Himelfarb