My London: Paula Wallace – Founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design

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Paula Wallace founded the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 1978 and has served as its president since 2000. During her tenure, Wallace has led the university’s expansion to Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, as well as SCAD eLearning, and has emerged as a visionary entrepreneur in both higher education and the art world. She visits England often and speaks at European events and conferences such as, recently, the London Festival of Architecture. This month she was in London to host the book launch for Robert Fairer’s latest collection, John Galliano for Dior. Wallace has been a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts since 1997.

We caught up with Paula for the latest in our My London interview series.


Favourite neighbourhood?

The Seven Dials in Covent Garden, especially Neal’s Yard.


Favourite place for brunch?

I favour the modern ambience and menu at Brumus in the Haymarket Hotel. Kit Kemp can’t miss with her fresh and friendly hotels and restaurants, in both New York and London. Custom dinnerware with mythic characters makes brunch an adventure.


Best coffee in London?

Flat white at Fortnum & Mason. The staff in morning coats truly make one feel special while selecting from an astounding array of jams and biscuits packaged to perfection in festive tins.


Favourite gallery or museum?

The Natural History Museum is a perennial favourite, but I always return to the Wallace Collection — grand enough to get you thinking, but not so vast that it wears you out. Intimate and expansive: the best of both worlds.


Tell us a secret!

The Duchess of Sussex once starred in a student film at SCAD, the university I founded in 1978. (The 2010 film, by SCAD filmmaker David Karlak, is called The Candidate.) Oh, and I’m honoured to serve as a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.


Favourite place to shop?

I have a special fondness for the estate jewelers in Burlington Arcade and, for my husband, I love popping in to Anderson & Sheppard on Old Burlington Street.


Favourite place to find inspiration?

I’m most inspired by experiences, and I always return home from London with a story — like the day, many years ago, when my daughter and I spent a drizzly afternoon in the London Mithraeum. I am enthralled by Roman ruins. I find the weight of history profoundly beautiful.


Best London destination for a date?

Cecconi’s, always.


Favourite park?

The Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park reminds me of SCAD BEACH in historic Savannah, Georgia. SCAD BEACH is an open-air, experiential installation complete with lifeguard stand, oversized swings, cabanas, and the soothing sounds of surf. If you visit, bring your flip-flops!


Favourite food market?

I hardly ever have time in London for food markets, but I always find time for great Indian food — at Chutney Mary or a hundred other favourite Indian restaurants in the city.


Your sanctuary in the city?

I could spend (and have spent) countless blissful hours in the creaky Piccadilly bookstore Hatchards, with its ample nooks and genres. There’s truly something for everyone at Hatchards. After expending a bit of intellectual energy, I enjoy the mind-body workout at Flowing Body Pilates.


What inspires you?

I firmly believe in the power of travel to transform and elevate the mind, body, and spirit. As Alain de Botton once wrote, “Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than moving planes, ships or trains […] large thoughts at times requiring large views, and new thoughts, new places.”


This season I’m loving …

The immense archive of legendary London fashion photographer Robert Fairer, whose new book — John Galliano for Dior — is a glorious feast of recent fashion history. Fairer’s behind-the-scenes images of some of the most iconic shows of the 90s and 2000s are a tour-de-force. We’re bringing him to the States in Autumn of 2020 for his first U.S. solo exhibition, which will be held at SCAD FASH, our university’s museum of fashion and film in Atlanta.


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