Secrets of The Royal Bedchamber, Hampton Court Palace
Saturday 15 Jun 2013


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Universal Design Studio has designed a theatrical temporary exhibition, Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber, at Hampton Court Palace. Presenting the world's largest collection of early State beds together for the first time, the exhibition tells how the royal bedchamber became the most public and important place in the Palace in the 17th and 18th centuries. Universal's design is based on an abstracted, contemporary interpretation of the Palace's Baroque style. Visitors move through a sequence of rooms containing distinct installations, beginning with the impressive Queen's Stairs where leaning mirror panels and a dramatic mirrored chandelier are used as Baroque devices for augmenting light for decoration.

The Queen's Gallery recreates the sense of journey associated with King George II's unique ‘travelling bed', which dissembled into 54 parts and moved with the court. A large ceiling projection of a moving, skyward view embeds motion into the exhibition space. In the Queen's Guard Chamber, a landscape of mattresses, an abstracted ‘bed', gives views up to ceiling projections (inspired by the Palace friezes) that introduce the themes and stories of the bedchamber.

Social networking and the importance of personal appearance in court life is recreated with historically accurate courtier costumes, fabricated with intricate detail in white, silver and gold paper. Within the sequence of three rooms that leads to the royal bedchamber, an increasing formality and embellishment in the costumes evokes a sense of progression toward an audience with the king.

The exhibition culminates with The Queen's Private Life, which explores the king and queen's only private space. Semi-transparent screens create a dreamy, painterly filter, evoking a bygone time. Peepholes and mirrors define views and draw attention to key details, creating a sense of intrigue.

Universal Design Studio Ltd.