Arabian Tent Company
talks to Katherine Hudson at The Arabian Tent Company.
her love of textiles and fabrics, and particularly William
Morris designs, Katherine has created the UK's leading
business providing themed interiors under canvas.
Raj, Moulin Rouge, English Tea, Bombay Boudoir, Purple Palace,
Cornish Cream and Katherine's beloved William Morris are some
of the themes on offer.
Hello Katherine. How are you?
Very well thanks.
Can you please tell us about your background and the
background to The Arabian Tent Company Katherine?
I suppose it all started in the summer of 1999 when some
friends roped me into driving to Cornwall for the eclipse
parties that were going on there. This was my first experience
of an outdoor party of this type, it was liberating and
exiting. I met many like-minded people for the first time and
also my first boyfriend. We quickly became inseparable and
moved in together and proceeded to attend every party we could
find. After a while we decided to put on our own party, we
wanted it to be the best party possible, but to our surprise
we couldn't find an interesting tent to hold it in.
So, the seed was planted, and the next couple of years were
spent running festival cafe's, we had a great time and I made
more money each weekend than I could in a whole month as a PA,
so I decided to quit my job. After this we started to make our
own tents, the festivals continued to love us and we grew and
grew and got our first big break with an event organiser
booking our tents for a polo match for Prince Charles.
Unfortunately problems arose in our relationship and this
coupled with our massive growth in such a short space of time
was too much, I walked out leaving him with everything we'd
In November 2004 I started The Arabian Tent Company, I wanted
to focus on designing and creating a selection of interiors.
The mission I gave myself was to create the most beautiful
collection of marquee interiors in the UK. I spent months in
India and my life savings designing The Moulin Rouge Interior,
The Bombay Boudoir and an Alice in Wonderland themed tent.
I still go to India each year to design and produce a new
marquee interior, it's one of the most important parts of what
As the best things often do - all these combinations come
together to make a new venture.
Yes, Arabian Tents has developed from having three different
interiors, my vision has become a reality and we now have the
biggest range of themed interiors available in the country.
Since moving into a larger premises we also have two other
companies, The Complete Chillout Company offering furniture
hire and venue transformation and The Pearl Tent Company which
provides architecturally unique white canvas marquees.
They're very impressive to look at on your website. Some of
them are James Bond-scale.
The Moulin Rouge has definitely got something James Bond-ish
about it. You can do a lot with accessories, each interior
looks different depending on what furniture and accessories
you put in it. The Moulin Rouge is actually inspired by the
film and has a burlesque theme, but it has been hired for
James Bond parties in the past.
Can you please tell us more about the vintage and
classically-inspired designs of your tents, interiors and
props such as William Morris and the Indian and Arabian
William Morris has always been one of my favourite designers -
I was brought up in a big rambling old family home with
William Morris curtains and furniture coverings. I think most
of us have owned something with a Morris print on it as
children, and therefore have fond memories of his designs.
This, coupled with the fact that vintage as a style has become
so popular, drove me to create a William Morris inspired
marquee interior, the walls of the interior are a delicate
floral print, it's a great backdrop for vintage themed parties
Why is Retro and Vintage such a big thing for so many people
Vintage has been getting more and more popular over the last 3
– 4 years. I think it has a lot to do with the recession.
People are looking back to 'the good old days', it's
comforting to surround yourself with the memories of good
times when things are hard.
You do a variety of themed events and weddings. What can
They can expect to walk into a tent and be transported into
another world... That's the idea of them.
A lot of our clients talk about it being magical and like a
fantasy world. The idea is to immerse people in atmosphere.
It's all created through furnishings and fabrics, but it gives
a real feeling of permanence. I think that's partly down to
the amount of hard work that goes into designing and making
each tent, it's given them a life of their own.
Is this a three-day turnaround for you? A day to set-up, a day
for it to be in-situ and then a day to dismantle?
Yes, exactly. I have an amazing team of 25 who set up, take
down and clear up afterwards, all with a smile on their faces!
What should customers consider when thinking about using your
services and hiring you for an event?
The most important things to consider are how many people will
attend the event and what kind of atmosphere you want to
It would be great if they had a site but we can and do
recommend venues frequently.
We operate nationwide, but have lots of links in the South
East and Sussex with beautiful venues that are flexible and
great to work with. We are based in Sussex so we've done a lot
of work in this area and built up some great working
What would you say is the ethos and the 'USP' for The Arabian
One of the most important factors of The Arabian Tent Company
is that we are perfectionists. This is apparent both in the
way we deal with our customers and the attention to detail in
the marquees and the accessories and furniture to go with
them. We are also very creative and artistic.
Is it difficult staying ahead or is that all part of the fun
and the challenge?
I love coming up with new ideas and designing and creating beautiful
things, so staying ahead is most definitely part of the
challenge. I get bored quite easily, and you can't get bored
with this as it's constantly changing.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of what you do Katherine?
Being able to decide what direction to go in because we are
now established enough so that I can have complete control
over what happens.
Another hugely rewarding part of the job is all the incredible
thank you letters I receive from brides and grooms, it's
amazing to know that you've made so much of an impression on
someone with something you have created from scratch. We are
getting a lot of recommendations these days, it's great to see
how many people enjoy the tents.
And what about your personal passions for Vintage?
Yes, absolutely. My house is full of antiques - I don't like
new furniture. I like things with a history and a story. The
vintage stuff is classic and doesn't ever go out of fashion so
it's good value if you're going to invest in furniture, or
That's right. You're going to stand out a little bit as well.
What plans do you have for the future for The Arabian Tent
I think I'll be focusing on more specific eras of vintage. I
have a feeling that the 1920s, 30s and 40s are going to be
very popular next year. I've been to some great high end
parties recently and you can see a lot of 20s- 40s inspired
style going on. The fashions of that period are absolutely
You're a trendsetter Katherine and dictating what the fashions
are going to be next year!
Yes, pretty much. There's been a few instances where I've
designed a tent in a particular style that went on to be
incredibly popular later on that year. I designed the Moulin
Rouge tent the year that burlesque really took off. That was
2005. The following year it was the English Tea Tent and we
made biscuit cushions and bought doilies and vintage tea cups,
and that was the real start of vintage - it was the year that
Selfridges started their Biscuit City and everyone started
Thanks for letting us know about the workings of The Arabian
Tent Company and the various options you have, Katherine. It
was fascinating. They certainly look like a great ingredient
to creating a stunning and memorable vintage-inspired event.
Thank you David.
Arabian Tent Company
- a perfect fusion
style and Western practicality
Arabian Tent Company was born out of a passion for
creating beautiful, sumptuous party surroundings and a
love of colour, textures and patterns from the East.
enthusiasm led to travelling the World sourcing tent
ideas from Morocco, textiles from Thailand, Arabian
furniture from Dubai, craftsmen from India and structure
designs from America to create a range of bespoke tents,
marquee linings and event furniture, to provide a
perfect fusion between Ethnic style and Western
collection of themed tents have Arabic, Indian,
Bollywood and Moroccan influences, as well as some more
unusual offerings such as a Peacock inspired Tent, a
Purple velvet interiored 'Regency' marquee and a Vintage
Tea Tent...with a new interior being added to the
collection every year.
sees the introduction of the William Morris inspired
tent, created after a suggestion by our friends at The
National Trust that they needed a tent for their July
celebrations at Standen House marking the centenary of
the founding of Morris & Co.
(+44) 0800 88 15 229
Mobile: (+44) 07941 370 241
Arabian Tent Company