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.
2.30pm: Max Richter In Conversation With Nihal Arthanayake in the Haybarn
The award-winning classical composer discussed his creative process with the broadcaster and author. ‘The starting point for any project is the Why?’ he said. ‘Why am I doing this? What is it I'm trying to communicate?’ He added that, ‘I keep working with the material until it arrives at a state that feels like it could only be that way.'
Electric House member Olivier was impressed by the composer’s humility, noting: ‘He doesn’t listen to his past recordings and composes primarily thinking of what space has not yet been explored.’ Elaborating on that, Richter explained that he is ‘writing into that space for himself’.
3.45pm: In Conversation With Emma D’Arcy in the Haybarn
‘That blonde wig has done me a world of favours,’ declared the House of the Dragon star when Sagal Mohammad, Soho House Content Editor asked if their life has changed since landing the role of Rhaenyra Targaryen. The actor reflected on their naivety in not knowing what show they were auditioning for before submitting their self-tape, as well as visibility as a non-binary actor and went on to describe the Golden Globes as ‘being at a prom for a school I didn’t go to’ – a moment that saw the audience erupt with laughter.
4.45pm – In conversation With Michèle Lamy in the Haybarn
In one of the afternoon’s most highly anticipated conversations, Soho House Editorial Director Teo van den Broeke sat down with the cultural and fashion icon. Lamy talked about her nomadic lifestyle, falling in love with her muses, and reading only poetry. When asked how she gets over the hump of a creative block Lamy responded: ‘I smoke a lot.’
‘She tells it how it is,’ said Soho House 40 Greek Street member, Diana Gomez. Another member referred to her as an ‘enigma’, adding, ‘the more she speaks, the more curious I become’. After the talk Lamy was found orchestrating a photoshoot with herself and Soho Farmhouses’ three resident Potbelly Pigs.
5.30pm – In conversation With Andrew Scott in the Haybarn
When asked about being pigeonholed into roles because of his identity as a gay man, the actor replied: ‘chemistry is chemistry’. Scott went on to say that being able to flex his sexuality in a role was just part of the craft. He also reflected on how he got into acting and revealed he doesn’t sweat bad reviews. ‘They’re constructive criticism,’ he said.
‘I’m impressed with the way he told his story, especially how he came up as a young actor,’ Soho Farmhouse member Hannah said, following the talk.
Friday, 28 April 2023
11.30am – Hanna Flint In Conversation With James Norton in the Barwell Barn
‘You have a responsibility to not bring the role home to your friends and family,’ the actor shared with the film critic and Soho House columnist. In one of the Summit’s most vulnerable moments, Norton revealed how he copes with his role in the ‘dark and brutal’ stage adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara's novel, A Little Life. The actor divulged that his co-star hugs him before and after every single show to help create separation between himself and the abusive role that sees him performing on stage for just under four hours at a time.