The scariest launch I’ve ever styled!

Bricking it at the OrbitBricking iI’ve done quite a few press launches now and I would say I’m a pretty calm and collected person. I’ve been a stylist for over 16 years so not much really phases me. I’ve waffled my way through magazine planning meetings and dealt with missing props on big Christmas shoots but nothing really prepared me for the launch I took part in back in September last year. I was asked to style a launch at the Acelor Mittal Orbit at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park in Stratford for DeLonghi.

The client was Clarion Communication and this was the third press launch I had styled for them. The product being launched was the Avvolta breakfast range consisting of a beautiful toaster and kettle. The design has the effect of ribbons beings wrapped around each appliance and they really are stunning.

Each appliance is a solid colour – black, white or red and then has a clear band of acrylic wrapped around them giving the item depth and a deeper colour band. You have to see them up close to see how gorge they are. 

The reccy

The Clarion team behind DeLonghi arranged a meeting at the Orbit and I have to say it’s such an amazing structure. I had seen it from the A12 on my way to shoots north of the river many times but had never seen it up close before- let alone gone all the way to the top! If you get the chance – do it. It’s spectacular.

We met with the Orbit event organiser and the aerial artists. Yes. aerial artists! That when I started to feel queazy. When I arrived I didn’t know anything about the event. I didn’t even know what the launch was for or what their plans were. Their plans were big!

As it unfolded the idea was to create an art gallery feel at the launch on the viewing platform and the aerial artists were to be doing a performance hanging high up in the centre part of the Orbit on silks – 374 ft up. That’s when I started to feel a bit queasy.

Bricking it at the Orbit

We went up in the lift and the view as you step out at the top is incredible. You know that you’re going to be high up but it’s truly spectacular. There are two giant curved mirrors which are works of art and turn the view upside down depending on where you stand. We later found out that the mirrors are worth £1,000,000 each and the phase “Don’t touch the mirrors” was soon used by the whole team- regularly! The room is round and it has a square hole in the middle with floor to ceiling windows so you can look down at the twisting structure below. That’s where the artists were going to be dangling. OMG!

My task was to hang a curtain in front of the windows in the centre that would be dropped down and reveal the products and the artists. I was going to have to somehow secure a curtain pole to the ceiling of this amazing structure!!!

The props

When it comes styling a launch like this you have to make sure you answer the clients brief whilst making sure that the products take centre stage. After the reccy I went away and drew out what I thought the room should look like. Around each window in the centre would be two plinths to display one colour toaster and kettle. The main colour theme for the whole launch was red so we had red twice.Bricking it at the Orbit

Along the far wall I devised a stream of ribbons hanging from the ceiling and some criss cross ribbons at two windows which were going to be situated behind two easels showing off Avvolta inspirationsBricking it at the Orbit

The big job

The hardest part of this launch for me was the curtain. How do I attach a curtain pole to the ceiling and how do I make the curtain stay up and fall down when needed and not pull the ceiling down at the same time?

The Event organiser for the Orbit said it was fine to use plaster board raw plugs and screw into the ceiling but I wasn’t so sure. What if I break it – it’s a national monument after all! How would I do that anyway? And how do you make curtains fall down on cue?

I had a good few sleepless nights over that curtain pole I’ll tell you – and I usually sleep like a log!  I have a background in product design so I tend to see these sorts of problems as completely solvable. Team that with a husband who has worked in builders merchants for years and knows all about all sorts of tools and equipment. I could do this. Couldn’t I?

Well it turns out I would have to! As soon as I decided that maybe I needed a set builder to help I couldn’t find one who was free. After a conversation with one who told me that this curtain set up is called a Kubiki curtain where it drops down and he could do it for £2-3/k. Two thousand pound! For a curtain!! Turns out it is done electronically with a remote and you simply push a button and the curtain pole releases the curtain. That was out of the question. I had to do it.

THE curtain!

A Kubiki curtain is when a curtain pole is used to support a curtain which has ringlets at the top. Each ringlet sits on a spoke and when you’re ready the pole moves forward and the curtain drops off the spokes and gently falls to the ground. Easy right?

Did I mention that the curtain had to be four meters wide to hide the whole of the front window? I managed to make a very light weight curtain pole in four sections using a thin piece of wood with pipe clips holding it in place. The curtain pole was made using a thin white plumbers tube. I knocked nails into the tube at regular intervals then matched the rivets on the curtain to the nails. Then all I had to do was set it up.

In the end the ceiling didn’t need any screwing at all. I just used wire threaded through the holes in the ceiling  to secure the wooden boards in place then popped the curtain pole into position. The problem came when I did a test run the night before the event. The curtain kept dropping down before I’d put the last panel on. Oh SHIT!

The solution

I worked out that if I placed a piece of ribbon over the nails and attached them from behind we could cut them to release the curtain for the drop down. The only worry was that we weren’t going to get a trial run. To say I was stressed out would be an understatement. I didn’t know if it was going to work. No – one could talk to me while I was setting up the curtains and at one point I said to the client “I really wouldn’t talk to me right now!” as I was up a ladder fiddling with ribbons and curtain poles. – Sorry G!

Launch day

The plan from the pr’s point of view was to gather up the guests at the base of the Orbit, bring them up together in the lift and give them coffees and breakfast canapés then do the speeches, watch a short video then drop the curtain to reveal the products on plinths and the arial performers. All the guests were standing right next to the curtain. One person’s shoe could have sent the whole thing down! 

The guests stood around chatting for much longer than expected. My lovely and very calm assistant Kasia and I were positioned behind the curtain ready to cut the extra ribbons and give the curtains a tug if they did’t fall. The PR’s were positioned along the front of of the curtain to stop anyone from touching it. It could have done at any moment. I was bricking it!

One of the PR’s was standing behind the curtain with us with a walkie talkie to ensure the music for the arial artists and the curtain drop was perfectly timed. It felt like ages that we had to wait to drop that curtain and all the time seeing peoples elbows poking the curtain. I felt sick. When we finally got the go ahead Kasia and I cut the two central curtain ribbons and then the outer before I had to give the curtain a gentle tug for the whole curtain to drift elegantly down. It worked! Pfew!Bricking it at the Orbit

I’m not afraid to admit that I actually shed a tear of relief once we had pulled it off.

Here’s the video of the event.

After the curtain came down everyone stood and watched the artists who were mesmerising. I can’t believe they dangled 114m up. So brave!

The guests had the chance to go down the Orbit slide which is the tallest and fasted slide in the world – or so I was told. I was just happy with a fallen curtain.

EmmaMT x

Curtain drop video :Gareth Griffiths

event photography:

Crazy curtain styling: EmmaMT

Assisted by Kasia Borowiecka 

Additional event set up: Emma Fishman & Bethan Reen 


5 reasons to spend new year at Aldeburgh – even when it’s cold and foggy

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year 2017

How was your christmas and New Year? I’m not quite sure where those two weeks went. I had so many plans for the school holidays and the time just flew by. What did you get up to?

We always get together with friends who have kids similar ages to our girls and we take it in turns to host a New Years Eve dinner. This year we decided to do something a bit different. We all went away together. Our friends – let’s call them ‘The Smiths’, have been telling us for years about their holidays to the beautiful town of Aldeburgh in Suffolk, so it made sense to find a house for us all to stay in there for New Years eve. Now we know exactly what they were talking about. Aldeburgh is lovely. So here are five reasons you should visit Aldeburgh whether it’s for the new year or not.

1. It’s Beautiful

The colours and designs of the architecture make it a really fascinating place to walk around. It’s an instagramers dream. Each street has more colours and design details to see and as it was Christmas there were plenty of stylish decorations on show too. I wanted to take snaps of all the front doors. The fishermen’s cottages are so tiny. Literally one room on each floor. I got a bit obsessed with those little clutter free houses.

2. It’s unspoilt


Even in the fog this untouched seaside town was beautiful. We walked along the sea front wrapped up in a lot of layers and we couldn’t see the sea as it was masked in fog. There are stretches of pebbly beach without an ice cream shop, cafe or arcade in sight. It made for a very peaceful walk. All you can see are fishing boats and fishermen’s huts.

3.  It’s just up the road to Southwold

which is a place we have been to before and already loved. There’s tons of great vintage shops mixed in with gift shops that have unusual finds along the high street as well as a lot going on to do with Adnams brewery and distillery – possibly why Mr MT liked it so much! We had Adnams Welsh Rarebit for lunch and it was amazing! And of course you can’t miss a walk to the end of the pier with it’s old fashioned arcades and two penny games.

Anywhere that has this many coloured beach huts – with one called ‘Jabba” has to be a winner in our Star Wars obsessed daughterling’s eyes. As well as Southwold, Thorpness and Snape  (and not of the professor kind) are also just up the road making it a great place to venture off and find treasures.

4. It has one of the best fish and chips shops in the UK

On the night we arrived The Smiths headed into town to pick up Fish and Chips for everyone. Every time I mentioned to anyone that I was heading off to Aldeburgh I was met with “Oh you must try the F&C from one of the best chippies in the UK” That kind of puts a lot of pressure on a meal but it didn’t disappoint. That batter!!!

There were lots of great places to eat in Aldeburgh. The day we arrived we had lunch in a really great place called Delphine’s Diner. It was a completely authentic 1950’s American styled diner with furniture, cutlery, serviette dispenser and the waitress’ uniform and hair styled all just perfect. I loved the mirrored ceiling. The place was tiny but the hot dogs were not!

Happy New Year 2017There was also one other place on the hit list. The mini Smiths wanted to take the girls for milkshakes at The Ice creamery on the High Street. The whole weekend was spent building up to choosing your three scoops of local ice cream and then having a whole bar of chocolate whizzed up with milk to make the biggest most sickly milkshake ever. I don’t think the kids could have been happier! Happy New Year 2017This was the window display at Delphine’s diner. Anywhere with original Sindy dolls is going to be an instant hit with me.

5. It’s bursting with culture

As you walk along the beach you come across The South Lookout. At first it just looks like an old building from the days of the fishermen but on closer inspection you see that it is an artists haven. Art dealer Caroline Wiseman has created a place for artists display their art and engage with others. The now famous Pebble Homage which is a participative art installation was brought about to coincide with Antony Gormley’s sculpture on top of Aldeburgh’s Martello Tower. Although the sculpture was removed in May 2016 people still flock to the lookout to write their thoughts on a pebble. The pebbles are to be scattered along the beach for others to find and read.

The giant shell sculpture by Maggie Hambling was the first thing we saw when we arrived in Aldeburgh and it’s to remember Benjamin Britten who lived in Aldeburgh during his lifetime. His words are cut into the scallops.

Nearby Snape Maltings is where Benjamin Britten created some of his music and it is now a music centre and has some fantastic galleries as well as some very good shops – especially if you’re an interiors nut. I couldn’t get enough of the vintage furniture they were displaying the homewares on.  Just look at that peeling paint below! Gorgeous! Happy New Year 2017

So, in all we had a fantastic time. We walked down to the beach for the fireworks at midnight on New Years Eve, had lots of walks and sea air and lots and lots to eat and drink and spent loads of quality time with our friends. It is definitely one of the best ways to spend new years.  We kind of fell in love with Aldeburgh just that little bit. I think a mini break in one of those fisherman’s cottages is on the cards for the summer months.

My last word has to be about the daughterlings who for much of the year are on a device or watching some random duo on YouTube in their own bedrooms but who on these few nights away were often found walking arm in arm together as if no one else was around. To say my heart melts every time I see them like this is an understatement. Happy New Year 2017

And on that note I wish you a happy, happy 2017.

EmmaMT x


Christmas 2016 with Talking Tables

It’s about time I shared with you some of the shots I styled for Talking Tables Christmas shoot.  The ranges are fantastically diverse so there’s something to suit all styles. If you want to see some behind the scenes shots from this shoot check out the last post

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Styling: EmmaMT

Photography: Oliver Gordon

Stylist Assistant Stella Ajao 

Products: Talking Tables 


EmmaMT x

Want to see what it looked like behind the scenes at this shoot? Check out this fun post here