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Following recent recommendations from Public Health England concerning the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, regrettably Sir John Soane’s Museum is temporarily closed. We will be cancelling or rearranging events scheduled up to 31 May, including this event. We will send further information to those who have already booked tickets.

By Design, a talk series at Sir John Soane’s Museum, in partnership with Luke Irwin, invites internationally renowned designers to discuss their practice through a single object. In this talk, Alice Rawsthorn talks to interior designer Ilse Crawford.

Inspired by Sir John Soane’s own extraordinary collection, and co-hosted by Will Gompertz, Arts Editor at the BBC, and Alice Rawsthorn, award-winning design critic and author, the series reflects on the power of objects – large or small, mundane or exceptional, aesthetic or utilitarian – to spark new ideas, and act as a spur for different forms of creativity. 

About the Speakers

Ilse Crawford

Ilse Crawford is a designer, academic and creative director with a simple mission to put human needs and desires at the centre of all that she does. As founder of Studioilse, together with her multi-disciplinary, London-based team, she brings her philosophy to life. This means creating environments where humans feel comfortable; public spaces that make people feel at home and homes that are habitable and make sense for the people who live in them. It means selecting and designing furniture and products that support and enhance human behaviour and actions in everyday life; and that have the least harm to people (makers and users) and the environment. It means restoring the human balance in brands and businesses that have lost their way.

Studioilse has completed over a hundred projects including commercial, hospitality, retail, residential and social projects that span the globe. Their projects have become benchmarks in their field, including Soho House New York, the first Aesop store in London, Cecconi’s restaurant, London, Ett Hem hotel in Stockholm and a new global airline lounge for Cathay Pacific that has been rolled out over 9 locations with more pending. They also created a collection of affordable, sustainable, quality furniture, lighting and accessories in natural materials for IKEA and a range with Bosnian company Zanat celebrating the areas UNESCO listed wood carving skills. And in 2017, in collaboration with Massimo Bottura and Food for Soul, Studioilse redesigned the St Cuthberts centre in London to create a functional and beautiful home for Refettorio Felix, which offers healthy and delicious lunches using surplus ingredients to vulnerable members of the local community.

Crawford has more than thirty years at the forefront of the international design world. Prior to Studioilse, she was the founding editor of Elle Decoration UK, launched well-being magazine BARE, and the home division of Donna Karan. In 2014 Crawford was awarded an MBE for services to Interior Design and in 2015 received an Honorary Doctorate from the London College of Communication, University of Arts London.

In addition to the studio, Crawford is a leading advocate of systemic wellbeing design having founded and run the Man and Wellbeing department at the Design Academy Eindhoven. She lectures widely on subjects of business and design, has published three books about her design philosophy, Sensual Home, Home is Where the Heart is? and A Frame for Life and was featured on Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design.

Alice Rawsthorn

Alice Rawsthorn is an award-winning design critic and author whose latest book is the critically acclaimed Design as an Attitude. Her weekly design column for The New York Times was syndicated worldwide for over a decade. Alice has spoken at important events including TED and the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Born in Manchester and based in London, Alice is chair of trustees at The Hepworth Wakefield art gallery in Yorkshire and Chisenhale Gallery in London. A founding member of the Writers for Liberty campaign for human rights, Alice was awarded an OBE for services to design and the arts.

​Event details

The talk will take place in the Museum's Library Dining Room. Doors will open at 6:30pm, with a chance to explore the museum by candlelight. The talk runs from 7pm to 8pm, followed by a drinks reception in the South Drawing Room.

We are in a Grade I listed, 19th-century building, so access is not always straightforward. If you require step-free access or extra assistance, please contact us in advance of your booking on or 020 7405 2107. 

Tickets are refundable up to 7 days before the event, after which point they are non-refundable or exchangeable. 

Images: Ilse Crawford by Marsy Hild Thorsdottir. Alice Rawsthorn by Michael Leckie.

In Partnership With

Event Info

30 Mar 2020

Doors open at 6.30pm
Talk 7–8pm
Drinks reception 8–9pm