To mark the reopening of the hospitality industry and the official run-up to Christmas, aqua shard will reveal ‘Act 1’ of its highly anticipated Christmas tree for 2020: ‘Festive Spirit’ created in collaboration with award-winning British set designer Soutra Gilmour.
The show-stopping tree at aqua shard, which is made up of hundreds of golden paintbrushes lit by acclaimed lighting designer Jon Clark, has been created as a celebration of the craftspeople behind the scenes of London’s celebrated theatre industry - the makers and painters that bring designer’s and director’s work alive and bring magic to the stage. As the day turns to evening, the promise of ‘curtain up’ glows through the night-time sky bringing a touch of festive magic to the restaurant’s guests.
Soutra Gilmour is an award-winning set designer, who has worked on some of the most well known productions in the West End and the Royal Opera House. She won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Set Design in 2012 for her work on the Donmar Warehouse production of Inadmissible Evidence, and the National Theatre production of Antigone. She also received an Olivier Award nomination for her work on & Juliet. Soutra has brought together some of the UK’s finest creative talents from the theatrical community to create a tree that both complements the modern space within aqua shard, and showcases the craftsmen of the theatre world: set builders, carpenters, costume designers and painters to name a few.
With London’s West End still largely closed, aqua shard brings the theatre to its guests with the dramatic Christmas tree design. Upon entering the restaurant, guests will be greeted by a delicately shimmering golden tree standing proudly within the three-storey atrium. On closer inspection, a cloud of intricately painted golden paintbrushes framed by the sky is finely suspended and interspersed with delicate pendant lights twinkling like stars. Sitting atop the tree is a silhouette of Tinker Bell in honour of aqua Shard’s highly acclaimed Peter Pan Afternoon Tea.
Alongside Soutra Gilmour, a cast and crew of celebrated theatre creatives involved in the design and production of the tree include Simon Kenny, founder of Souvenir, one of London's foremost scenery builders and specialist prop makers based in Bermondsey and Simon York of Miraculous Engineering, one of the UK’s longest established scenery builders, who has constructed the tree with paintbrushes supplied by Flints Theatrical Chandeliers, in recognition of Bermondsey’s rich local heritage of master craftspeople and the scenic industry. The brushes have been painted and finished by Marcus Hall Props under the direction of Soutra’s long-time collaborator Chris Marcus, whose work can be seen in most West End Musicals.
As per tradition, the talented team at aqua shard has created an accompanying dessert and cocktail for guests to enjoy as they admire the tree. Centre Stage is a warming concoction of mulled gin, caramel, and fermented apples, finished with chocolate bitters and topped up with Veuve Clicquot Champagne. The edge of the glass will be brushed gold - with a nod towards the brushes of the tree - which will be flavoured with salted caramel and chocolate. The dessert will be a beautiful Christmas bauble served with preserved fruit parfait and hazelnut custard, accompanied by an edible chocolate paint brush. 50% of the net sales of the cocktail and dessert will be donated to the Theatre Support Fund+ (a charity born out of lockdown to support the theatre industry) and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. Guests will also have the opportunity to donate a £1 voluntary donation with every bill.
In early 2021, aqua shard will reveal ‘Act 2’ of its collaboration with Soutra Gilmour, to continue its ongoing support of the affected theatre industry.
Act I: Festive Spirit at aqua shard launches on December 2nd and guests can book a table for lunch or dinner by visiting https://aquashard.co.uk/