Memorable scenes from the inaugural Soho Summit
The speakers, the parties, and the many impromptu moments among the highlights from last week’s festival of ideas at Soho Farmhouse, powered by Porsche
Thursday 4 May 2023 By Abigail Hirsch Photography by Trish Henderson, Feruza Afewerki, James Fear, Tung Walsh and Louisa Tratalos
On the last Wednesday evening in April, members from far and wide flocked to Soho Farmhouse for the first Soho Summit, powered by Porsche. Our brand-new festival of ideas was a hotbed of immersive art and keynote talks from industry leaders in design, technology, art, fashion and sustainability – rounded off with classic Soho House dinners, complete with epic afterparties.
There was Jeremy O Harris taking selfies with Michèle Lamy. There was Andrew Scott showing off his drawing skills in Curtis Holder’s portrait workshop and Emma D’Arcy recounting their first night at the Golden Globes. Not to mention one of our favourite moments: a crowd of 180 gala guests singing along to every word of Anne-Marie’s 2002.
The fun didn’t stop there. Here are the highlights from Soho Summit – along with our favourite quotes from the event.
Thursday, 27 April 2023
10am: Nick Jones: The Secret Histories Of Soho House in the Haybarn
‘I love a room full of people having a nice time,’ said our founder when questioned by radio and TV host Jo Wiley about his motivation for opening Soho House 28 years ago. ‘I wanted to create a nice room with nice design, and fill it with really interesting, fun, nice people who might not know each other – and hopefully the people in that room, and their lives would flourish, not just professionally, but also socially. And that is still at the core of the business.’
It’s an ethos reflected within the Soho Summit too, as rooms of dynamic leaders came together with curious crowds, amid which sparks flew. Jones’s honesty drew comment from the audience. Soho Farmhouse member Sharon commented on the ‘depth of care’ the House founder has instilled: ‘You can feel it in any layer of every club,’ she said after his talk.
10.45: Yinka Ilori In Conversation With Russell Tovey in the Glasshouse
As members entered the Farmhouse grounds on Thursday morning, they were greeted by the multidisciplinary artist and designer’s latest work, Beacon of Dreams, an interactive sculpture. When Ilori joined actor and art podcaster Tovey in the Glasshouse, he cited ‘childhood memories of visiting the British seaside’ as his primary inspiration for the shell-like structure. Members couldn't get enough of the installation, snapping selfies on the mirrored wall and taking a seat to listen to the bespoke wellness soundscape.
11.15am: Jeremy O Harris In Conversation With Sinéad Burke in the Haybarn
The disability educator and advocate began her conversation with the critically acclaimed playwright by discussing the mechanics of radical inclusion to allow people to feel ‘psychologically safe in spaces’. It is, she said, ‘about creating a baseline standard where people get to show up as they are.’
In response, 180 House member Jenny revealed she had learnt a lot about the new ideals and perspectives on democratising accessibility from Burke and O Harris’s conversation, and other guests in the audience agreed.
As part of their talk, the pair dove into O Harris’s initiative, BLACK OUT – which invites an all-Black-identifying audience to attend standalone performances of his work, Slave Play. ‘Whenever you ask someone to rebuild something, there's a lot of fear because when you rebuild something, that means you have to tear something down that we all feel like we know or understand,’ O Harris explained of his thinking and how it’s been received.
12pm: Creating Clothes For An Uncertain Future With Vollebak in the Mill Room
‘We make clothes out of garbage and clothes that can outlive you,’ brothers Steve and Nick Tidball told Soho House Content Editor, Sagal Mohammed. Their future-forward fashion brand is the most advanced clothing company on earth. Vollebak creates garments for extreme temperatures, as well as those suitable for space and a post-apocalyptic world, using unexpected materials – including the strongest fibres on the planet, found in bullet-proof vests. The brand’s founders explained how they’re able to create practical items fuelled by technology.
Watch our newest instalment of No Passengers, featuring Vollebak here.
12.45pm: Sir Paul Smith in conversation with Dermot O’Leary in the Haybarn
The British designer celebrated his eponymous brand’s 50th anniversary in 2020 – an impressive feat in the fashion industry. How does he continue to remain relevant over such a sustained period? ‘One of the main sentences in my head is “no one cares how good you used to be”,’ Smith told broadcaster Dermot O’Leary. ‘Fashion is all about today and tomorrow.’
With every seat taken and people standing on either side of the stage, members hung onto the designer’s every word. ‘Whether you’re interested in fashion or not, you can’t help but fall in love with him,’ one Soho Farmhouse member admitted.
2pm: Workshop: Mood-Boarding With Priya Ahluwalia in the Barwell Barn
It’s not every day one gets to participate in a workshop with one of world’s hottest designers, but that’s exactly what lucky attendees got to do as the designer and founder of fashion brand Ahluwalia helmed this intimate session on Thursday afternoon. After the designer talked through her method for curating primary and secondary imagery to represent inspiration for different fabrics, colours and silhouettes, members tried it out for themselves – searching through artist books, clipping magazines, and pulling inspiration, under guidance of Ahluwalia.