House Nights: Behind the scenes at Soho Summit

Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House

Our first festival of ideas powered by Porsche just wrapped. Here’s what went down

Friday 28 April 2023   By Soho House   Photography by James Fear, Trish Henderson, Louisa Tratalos and Feruza Afewerki-Abraha

The inaugural Soho Summit just wrapped with an inspiring roster of pioneering creative minds and thought leaders from the worlds of design, art, technology, fashion, and sustainability. Over the past two days, Soho Farmhouse played host to the festival of ideas. Think keynote talks with actors and fashion designers, immersive art experiences, hands-on workshops, and panel discussions with sustainability experts by day – and screenings with auteur filmmakers, gala dinners, and unexpected conversations with like-minded people by night. Fancy a glimpse at what went down? We’ve got you covered with all the highlights from the event. 

Set among 100 acres of Cotswolds countryside, Soho Farmhouse’s grounds were divided into four zones for Soho Summit: Experimental and Immersive for art installations and creative discovery; Talks and Panel Discussions where guests caught edifying conversations with keynote speakers; Workshop and Create for interactive classes and workshops with leading artists and designers; and Porsche Art of Dreams Space with an art installation commissioned by Porsche.

We partnered with Sinéad Burke’s consultancy, Tilting the Lens, to implement accessibility at the entire summit with panelists and facilitators giving a physical description of themselves to accommodate those who are blind or have low vision, alongside BSL interpreters at every talk, ramps and handrails on the main stage, and subtitles on all cinema screenings.

Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House
Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House

Wednesday 26 April 

At Pen Yen
The summit began on Wednesday night with a dinner at Pen Yen to welcome our overnight guests. An intimate group of attendees gathered for Japanese izakaya-style food. After sushi and vegetable tempura, one of London’s most exciting rising artists, Debbie, gave a soulful performance and shared her inspiration with the crowd.  

 

 

Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House
Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House
Soho House Summit 2023

Thursday 27 April

In the Hay Barn
Over the course of the day, the Hay Barn saw the meeting of creative minds: TV and radio broadcaster, Jo Whiley, kicked off the talks with our very own Nick Jones. Then, playwright and 12-time Tony Award nominee Jeremy O. Harris and activist Sinéad Burke discussed their shared interest in representation; British fashion designer Sir Paul Smith talked building brand legacy with broadcaster Dermot O’Leary; and composer, pianist and producer Max Richter spoke with radio host Nihal Arthanayake. The pair talked openly about Richter’s impressive career to date. 

The afternoon followed with a sequence of heavy hitters taking centre stage. Cultural icon and fashion designer Michèle Lamy talked unabashed creativity, and House Of The Dragon star Emma D’Arcy and critically acclaimed BAFTA-winning and Golden Globe-nominated actor Andrew Scott discussed their notable roles, respectively.

Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House
Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House

In the Barwell Barn
The Barwell Barn played host to a series of workshops with members learning from top creatives. Dutch artist Amie Dicke led a session on framing, and guests participated in a live portrait drawing session with British artist Curtis Holder. To everyone’s pleasant surprise, Michèle Lamy stepped up as the subject, and Andrew Scott drew an impressive portrait of her.

Priya Ahluwalia, the designer and founder of fashion brand Ahluwalia, took a lucky group of members through mood-boarding, explaining how she curates primary and secondary imagery for inspiration. Barcelona-based, Soho Visionaries artist Bernat Daviu closed out the workshop series with an interactive class where participants helped develop a new part-painting, part-performance artwork in real time.

Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House
Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House

In the Cinema
Soho House’s cinema programming team cued up a sequence of screenings with auteur filmmakers throughout the day. The Biggest Little Farm was first up at 10am on Thursday morning, telling the story of the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester to uncover a biodiverse design for living. After the screening, Jamila Brown, Soho House Head of House Foundations, hosted a panel with Catherine Bottrill, CEO and cofounder of Pilio Group; Zain Tarawneh, cofounder of Green Future Project; and Mo Helmi, founder of Tricoastal Scapes on the conception, process and progress of the Farmhouse Forest, a newly planted reforestation initiative that’s part of the larger UK-wide effort to rewild land lost to human development.

Next, Max Richter took the mic to introduce his documentary, Max Richter’s Sleep, the story of the acclaimed composer and musician and his creative partner, artist and BAFTA-winning filmmaker, Yulia Mahr’s performance of his celebrated eight-hour opus ‘Sleep’ in LA. Later in the afternoon, the Cinema filled up with members for the screening of If These Walls Could Sing, an inside look into Abbey Road Studios – the most famous and longest running studio in the world. Director Mary McCartney answered burning questions from the audience, sharing moments and stories never before heard.

Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House
Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House

In the Mill Room
Three panels filled the Mill Room with insightful discussions and debates throughout the day. In ‘The soft power of smart storytelling’, leaders from the worlds of fashion, luxury motoring and hospitality discussed editorialised storytelling, and its key role in leading a brand to success. ‘Creating clothes for an uncertain future’ featured the designers behind Vollebak, part of Soho House and Porsche’s No Passengers video series. In the final panel titled ‘Inside the art of designing alternative universes’, designer and filmmaker Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian shared her futuristic mindset and how she designs alternative universes.

Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House
Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House

In the Glasshouse
Soho Visionaries is a joint effort between Soho House and Porsche to amplify the voices of three local artists who are shifting the agenda right now. Multidisciplinary artist and designer Yinka Ilori and actor Russell Tovey discussed the inspiration behind Ilori’s Soho Visionaries commissioned sculpture, ‘Beacon Of Dreams’, offering members a look inside its inception. The group then walked down to the oak tree for the first look at the artwork.

For lunch, the team behind sustainability focused London restaurant, Native, took over the Glasshouse kitchen. It featured a four-course menu with Black Bream Ceviche, Roast Lavington Lamb with wild garlic, and Rhubarb and Rosemary Meringue Pie for a lucky group of members.

Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House
Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House

In the Farm Grounds
Believe it or not, Richard Browning, the inventor of the Iron Man-esque jet suit, flew onto the farm by jetpack, landing seamlessly in front of a crowd of guests. Once Browning came back down to earth, he answered spectators’ questions about his gravity-defying invention.

Three installations filled the Farmhouse grounds specifically for the Soho Summit. Cyril Lancelin’s ‘Remember Your Dreams’, part of the Art of Dreams by Porsche – a new global series of art and design experiences – took up residency on the Lazy Lawn. Members interacted with the purple sculpture and at night, it glowed. An immersive work in Porsche’s art collection, it made its UK debut. Yinka Ilori also debuted ‘Beacon Of Dreams’, his bespoke interactive artwork live at Farmhouse. Outside the Millhouse, three vintage Porsche cars left guests obsessed, wanting one for themselves.

Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House
Behind the scenes at Soho Summit | Soho House

Soho Summit gala dinner in the Sperry Tent
After an enriching day full of unexpected ideas, inspiring creation and new connections, Thursday culminated in a gala dinner. Singer-songwriter Anne-Marie performed her top hits 2002, FRIENDS and everyone’s favourite, Rockabye. After four courses and too many Picantes to count, the crowd spilled onto the dance floor for a DJ set from Jodie Harsh. And for those who weren’t ready to end the perfect day, Soho House’s own Head of Music, Dom Chung, hopped behind the decks into the early hours.