The new look of Somerset House

Since transforming to become the home of Casa Brasil for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and having recently hosted London Fashion Week once again, the popularity for events at Somerset House continues to grow. The venue has the space to cater for any event, from VIP after parties and product launches, to small business meetings and exhibitions.

Somerset House is centrally located in London, commanding Thames-side views. During the summer months, 55 fountains dance in the courtyard, and in the winter it transforms into an ice rink. Somerset House also hosts open-air concerts and films, contemporary art and design exhibitions, family workshops and free guided tours of spaces usually hidden to visitors.

The venue has 12 Palladian-style event spaces ranging from the Portico Rooms with views over the Thames on one side and the iconic Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court on the other, to the Courtauld Gallery, which can host receptions for up to 200 people, or dinners for up to 50 people.

The venue’s distinguished West Wing, consisting of a collection of 15 rooms, was recently re-opened after being refurbished. The interior decoration has been designed to complement the historic setting of the building. Original period features, such as cornices and fireplaces, have been also been restored.

Most recently (13-24 March 2013), in the world’s largest showcase of wool, the renewed West Wing of Somerset House was transformed into a home made primarily from wool. Seven rooms, from the bedroom to the study, created by leading designers such as Kit Kemp and Donna Wilson, were used to exhibit how the design community uses wool extensively in its work, while three additional rooms were dedicated to extensive fashion displays.

Bridgette Kelly, Project Director of The Campaign For Wool, said: “It is the most expansive venture the Campaign has seen to date as it looks at all the key uses of wool under one roof and shows the amazing versatility of the fibre. We wanted to make the most of this opportunity within the fabulous location that Somerset House offers and we will truly shine the spotlight on wool. The venue really offers visitors plenty to see and do at many different levels.”

The venue also creates temporary structures for bespoke events that are housed in the courtyard. This was the case for the 2011 Press Preview and Launch Party for Shrek: The Musical, hosted by DreamWorks Theatricals. Somerset House recommended a low-touch marquee that consisted of a main entertaining area, and quirky clear-span hexagonal structures to complement an extension to the drinks reception area, providing a less traditional option of a marquee, and allowing guests to see the magnificence of the venue.

Currently the venue has a list of 37 accredited suppliers who are permitted to work within the riverside venue, from caterers, florists, and lighting designers to approved furniture and stationery suppliers. Somerset House commands a stringent approval process from its suppliers, each of who have been selected for their expertise, quality of production, health and safety adherence and cost effectiveness.

This was first published in the May edition. Any comments? E-mail

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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