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The Historic British Embassy in Tehran.

Images via Smithsonian: Handwritten information on slip of paper (from a 1943-1944 cash book, produced by the Bathni Brothers, Tehran) reads, “27) Interior of British Embassy.” [Myron Bement Smith Collection, Subseries 2.1: Islamic Archives History, Collection Information
– Myron Bement Smith handwritten caption in English reads, “47.P; Box 41.6: Tehran. British Embassy. Interior. (# 27).” [Myron Bement Smith Collection, Subseries 2.1: Islamic Archives History, Collection Information; Box 60; Folder 44: 47 P: Antoine Sevruguin, glass negatives, Iran

The British embassy in Iran was reopened this weekend by UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond. The embassy building itself has a rich & storied past.

The British embassy in Tehran was constructed by British Architect. James Wild (March 9, 1814 – November7, 1892) on a piece of land acquired by the British government in 1860. The construction of the building lasted for almost sixteen years, the bulk of which was constructed from 1871 to 1876. Construction was complicated by Wild’s decision to transport the roof and other materials, such as glass, from the UK. Part of the roof was lost at sea in 1871, and two caravans of 367 camels transporting other materials were variously robbed by bandits and held to ransom by excise official and a ship carrying glass and joinery caught fire at the port city of Bushehr.

The British Embassy to Iran was designed from the South Kensington Museum (today the Victoria and Albert Museum) in London, in 1869. James Wild had a strong reputation as a specialist in Middle Eastern architectural design, which he had studied and extensively drawn while living in Egypt between 1842 and 1848. He was sympathetic to the general principles laid out in Jones’ Grammar of Ornament. His Tehran embassy buildings are representative of the “controlled eclecticism” typical of the Design Reform movement broadcast from South Kensington.

Design Reform at the British Embassy: James Wild’s Arabesque Hall in Qajar Tehran. from Orientalist Museum on Vimeo.

Wild’s first proposal for the State Rooms was rejected, apparently because he had selected a “Persian” style: this was not considered workable for Britain’s official profile in Iran, where Britain and Russia struggled for political influence and status at the Qajar court. After a long hiatus, Wild’s second (more conservative) scheme for the State Rooms was approved: this also offered a British assimilation of a “foreign” style, echoing the eighteenth-century British assimilation of Greek and Roman architecture exemplified by neo-classical practitioners such as Robert Adam.

In 1906, the embassy played a key role in the uprising which led to the establishment of a parliament in Iran, when well over 10,000 Tehran people took refuge in the compound.

Tehran Conference 1943
Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill at the Tehran Conference 1943

Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt met at the British embassy in Tehran for the first time to discuss the progress of the war and the future of Europe, even though the bulk of the meetings were at the Soviet embassy. Ambassador, Geoffrey Adam, and his wife, Mary Emma, had restored the interiors the British embassy in Tehran to their former historic glory. Tables and chairs had been repositioned exactly as they were in 1943 when Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt and their aides met at the Tehran Conference that failed to end the second world war. (Churchill and Stalin reportedly drank whisky and got on famously; Roosevelt looked on disapprovingly.) ^jh

The British Embassy in Tehran
198 Ferdowsi Avenue
+44 20 7008 1500

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Relaxing Elegance, an Antique Mirror Complements a Clean Contemporary Bath.

Heather Hilliard - Bath with a large-scale antique French painted & silver-gilt mirror from Garden Court Antiques.
Heather Hilliard Design – Bath with a large-scale antique French painted & silver-gilt mirror from Garden Court Antiques

An antique mirror lends a classical touch to this clean, sophisticated bath designed by Heather Hilliard.
Overall the mood in this space is calm and open. Subtle grace is found in the beautiful herringbone-tiled flooring, the generous white tub & a fine large-scale antique painted & silver-gilt mirror. Ms. Hilliard found the mirror at Garden Court Antiques. Her deft touch using this antique piece in a contemporary setting unites the design with an established quality.

Heather Hilliard
San Francisco Interior Designer, Heather Hilliard

Ms. Hilliard’s has a rich background in the fine arts, the natural sciences & business. She originally hails from the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. She began her career in Philadelphia working with non-profits eventually catching the attention of “the quintessential blue-blood President of the Philadelphia Museum of Art” (..whose family inspired the 1940 classic romantic comedy, “The Philadelphia Story”)
From there Ms. Hilliard’s path took her to San Francisco, finding her way to the storied Interior Designer, Paul Wiseman & The Wiseman Group. Eventually, she opened her own firm, Heather Hilliard Design ^jh

I’m always thinking about the proportions, the sightlines, the focal points – things that maybe some people don’t consider. Other folks might be thinking more about the decoration, but I’m trying to think of it as a whole..

Heather Hilliard Design

San Francisco
3654C Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94118
Tel. 415-673-1111 x113
Fax 415-366-2005

Los Angeles
10866 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 225
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tel. 213-290-0029

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