This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire features the remarkable design of the Cumberland Art Gallery Suite located within the grandeur of Hampton Court Palace.
The Cumberland Art Gallery is a dedicated space that allows visitors to view artworks from the Royal Collection in a stunning setting, which reflects the Palace’s history as a destination for the work of artists such as Holbein, Caravaggio and Gainsborough. The Gallery occupies a newly restored suite of rooms designed by William Kent in the 1730s as private apartments for the Duke of Cumberland.
With architects and designers Purcell, Hoare Lea Lighting developed a scheme to illuminate the paintings while minimising impact on the sensitive building fabric. Hoare Lea CGI combined its expertise in the niche area of accurate lighting visualisation with a mastery of 3D-modelling and physically-based rendering tools, such as 3ds Max and Vray, to create photo-realistic visuals. The resulting visualisations (created without the benefit of CAD drawings) accurately represented the final, relit Gallery and proved highly effective in communicating design ideas and showing how the Gallery would look.
SBID had the opportunity to speak with Simon Dove, Associate at Hoare Lea & Karam Bhamra, Principal CGI Designer of Hoare Lea.
Company: Hoare Lea
Project: Cumberland Art Gallery Suite
Project Location: Hampton Court Palace, England.
What was the client’s brief?
The Cumberland Gallery at Hampton Court Palace is a dedicated space for artworks from the Royal Collection. It enables visitors to view the artworks in a stunning gallery setting, which reflects the palace’s history as a destination for the work of artists, such as Holbein, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Bassano and Gainsborough. The Gallery occupies a newly restored suite of rooms designed by the architect William Kent in the 1730s, as private apartments for George II’s son, William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland.
The brief given to architects Purcell and the lighting design team at Hoare Lea was to return the Cumberland Suite as closely as possible to Kent’s original scheme. Historic Royal Palaces wanted to create a dedicated space to highlight some of the works of the Royal Collection, and to use Art as the lens through which to understand the royal history, stories and material culture of the Palace.
What inspired the design of the project?
With architects and designers Purcell, Hoare Lea developed a scheme to illuminate the paintings, while minimising impact on the sensitive building fabric.
While remaining faithful to the architecture and finishes, the intent was for the environment to have the feel of a gallery, and the lighting immediately announces that this is a different type of space. Picture rails supply power to LED spotlights, which highlight the paintings. Although, Tungsten has often been used in gallery settings, the quality of the white light now produced by LEDs, together with benefits, such as energy efficiency, small size, high-colour rendering of 95+, warm colour temperature, ease of dimming and the lack of ultraviolet light created, made LED an ideal choice.
The look of each fitting was carefully considered to ensure the scheme complemented the space during the day, as well as enhancing it at night. These fittings, developed in favour of the traditional linear picture lights usually specified in heritage buildings, give a contemporary elegance to the rooms.
To incorporate flexibility, achieve the precise lux levels required, and create the desired visual impression, individual dimming control of every fitting was important. Simon Dove, Associate, Hoare Lea explains: ‘It was a key requirement to dim each luminaire from within the space, rather than from a remote location or via a complex lighting control system.”
What was the toughest hurdle your team overcame during the project?
Understanding the heritage of the space, while creating a contemporary solution, was crucial. Simon Dove explains, ‘Working within a listed building such as Hampton Court inevitably presented challenges, and mock-ups were used to explore the implications of introducing light fittings and to communicate design ideas.’ For lighting designers, one of the biggest challenges is to communicate the lit impression of their proposed designs, and this is where our use of specialist visualisation came in. Hoare Lea CGI combined its expertise in the niche area of accurate lighting visualisation, with a mastery of 3D-modelling and physically-based rendering tools (such as 3ds Max and Vray) to create photo-realistic visuals. The resulting visualisations accurately represented the final, relit Gallery and proved highly effective in communicating design ideas.
In terms of hurdles we faced for the visualisation of the project – there were no existing plans, drawings or models of the Cumberland Suite. A survey was carried out to obtain basic room dimensions, but this did not include any of the bespoke, heavily ornate detailing present in each room. Producing accurate and realistic 3D scenes to give as true a representation as possible of the proposed refurbishment – including new paint, material finishes, furnishings, artworks and of course the lighting scheme – was a challenge.
The only option was to build our 3D models from reference photographs, which we took on-site. Every room has a different feature ceiling design and none of it was simple! Making sure we captured and modelled all the necessary detail was a difficult and time-consuming task – but well worth it when you consider the realism of the final result.
What was your team’s highlight of the project?
‘The lighting was carefully designed to provide beautiful illumination of the paintings using the latest LED technology, but minimising the impact on the sensitive building fabric. The result greatly enhances the artwork and the room’s architectural features.’
The Historic Royal Palaces team we worked with know the spaces intimately, so for them to commend the accuracy of our visualisations was very satisfying. The positive feedback Hoare Lea received regarding how valuable the visuals proved in communicating the design proposals was unanimous across the team.
Why did you enter the SBID International Design Awards?
We had followed the SBID Awards Visualisation category but had not previously submitted our work. This time we thought we would give it a shot as the Cumberland Suite project seemed very different to the visualisation projects usually entered. We felt its uniqueness and the way the lighting design and visualisation worked together to play such an integral role in the project delivery, deserved recognition.
Winning an SBID International Design Award is a real achievement as the Awards are regarded as one of the highest accolades of interior design excellence.
Commenting on the award win Karam Bhamra of Hoare Lea said: “It means a lot to us to have the quality of our work recognised by the judges. We didn’t think we would win as this is the first time we have entered the SBID Awards and the standard in the category is really high… we are absolutely delighted!”
Questions answered by Simon Dove, Associate, Hoare Lea & Karam Bhamra, Principal CGI Designer, Hoare Lea.
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If you missed last week’s Project of the Week with InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel’s decadent Presidential Suite click here to see more
Entries were received, finalists deliberated and the winners of the SBID International Design Awards 2017 have been announced! Click here to see the full list.
We hope you feel inspired! Let us know what inspired you #SBIDinspire
Hoare Lea| SBID International Design Awards 2017
This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire features a design project with particular grandeur. Stonehill & Taylor upheld a traditional design scheme sympathetic to the historically Federalist architecture as they crafted a hotel suite fit for royalty – or in this case, a Presidential audience.
Located on the 14th floor and newly expanded to 4,000 square-feet, the Presidential Suite features historic accents and elegant furnishings, as well as an array of artwork ranging from pastoral landscapes to Chinoiserie accent pieces. Immediately upon entrance to the space, the grand entry hallway sets the tone for the suite, with floors elaborately patterned in three types of marble. This exits dramatically into the rotunda, a bright, 12-foot-high octagonal dome that opens to the reception, fitness room, and master bedroom entryway. The living room area features gold, rich red, and pewter details with a baby grand piano as the focal point, while the bedrooms have a palette of powder blue, cream and taupe. The master bedroom leads to a spacious bathroom haven that features a steam shower and the only freestanding tub in the hotel.
SBID had the opportunity to speak with Vince Stroop, Principal with Stonehill & Taylor.
Company: Stonehill & Taylor
Project: InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel – Presidential Suite
Project Location: New York, United States
In 2012, Stonehill & Taylor came on board to manage the architecture and interior design of room 702 of the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel. Because the hotel has been renovated multiple times throughout the years, its style was often mismatched. Our brief was to strip the hotel back to its original intention, following a Federalist style of architecture and interior design. More specifically, we wanted to create flourishes in the Presidential Suite to distinguish it from the rest of the hotel—as a result, you’ll see lots of symmetry, millwork detailing, and the layering of materials like marble and stone.
The hotel was originally built in 1926 when there was a revival of the Federalist period. We sought to return to these design principles. Take for example, the Presidential Suite’s grand entry hallway. It features a classic floor pattern created using three types of Italian marble and leads to a dramatic rotunda featuring an 11-foot-high octagonal dome and acts as the centre point of the suite which opens to several of the other main spaces.
The Presidential Suite is heavily used by world dignitaries and demanded the latest in technology and high security standards—it required a separate HVAC system, shatter-proof glass, bulletproof wall construction, and sound-proofing—which was tricky to reconcile with the classic nature and traditional style of the design brief.
This hotel is located very close to the United Nations Complex and deeply rooted in political history. Bill Clinton even ran his 1992 Presidential campaign from its very address. The real excitement however, is that former President Barack Obama has stayed in the Presidential Suite both before and after restoration and former Vice President Joe Biden was the first to occupy the suite post-renovation. Our involvement with the hotel and the suite was a labour of love, and it’s thrilling to think that it’s used and appreciated by leaders from around the world.
We entered the competition to bring recognition to this project and to offer the SBID audience a window in to the hotel’s design. The wider public may not have the opportunity to visit the hotel, but through this competition, they can get a glimpse of what it would be like to stay in the Presidential Suite.
Questions answered by Vince Stroop, Principal with Stonehill & Taylor.
If you missed last week’s Project of the Week with Zebrano in the City click here to see more
Entries to the SBID Awards 2017 are now closed. To find out more about booking a table, click here
Stonehill & Taylor | SBID International Design Awards 2017
This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features the eclectic London bar, Zebrano in the City. 4M Group aimed to merge the interior basic shell of this space with the exterior energy of the streets, highlighting the vibrant design scheme and the materials used to create the space as a unified whole. At the same time the environment makes free use of forms inspired by and representative of the natural world.
The interior design scheme is a combination of organic impulse and urban elegance. Starting completely from scratch, 4M Group worked with a range of recycled urban materials – wood, brick and steel – to create an area where the corrosion of metals reigns supreme, in a manner that creates a striking multi-dimensional sensory experience and sparks a conversation on sustainability. The grand metal doors were corroded for several weeks prior to installation. They were also both made out of reclaimed oak and were installed by local specialists.
SBID had the opportunity to speak with Perparim Rama, CEO of 4M Group.
Company: 4M Group
Project: Zebrano in the City
Project Location: London, United Kingdom
The client wanted to create a multi-functional place, where you would arrive for afternoon drinks, eat fabulous food and continue the night downstairs with live music and performances. As a result, Zebrano in the City is brave and bold. It is different, and not afraid to show it. It is a restaurant that on many levels is not about the end result—it is also about the processes that occur in nature and a celebration of them. The space incorporates the rustication of materials, aging, movement flow, deterioration, explosion, force fields, and the transformation of energy into mass. It is about celebrating nature and the life of the materials as they are transformed though the processes of oxidation, aging, or maturing, and it is also about revealing the true nature of construction processes and how things are put together. Zebrano in the City is about exploration using all of the senses. It is about the unknown, about the search for the new and the love of surprise. It is about being true and open. The design may appear to be complex, but it is actually a result of the interaction of simple rules combined with the parameters that have created it. The design is ultimately about the path of least resistance, the energy, the flow. It is about celebrating explosion and what happens to the elements that are transformed as a result of these forces, it is about the transformation of energy into functional form, into mass.
Nature and the subconscious human mind are my two key inspirations. These two always coupled with and adapted to specific sites and contexts, programs, clients and budgets. The above are key parameters, but they are always different in different contexts, and as such the outcome is never the same. Zebrano in the city is an emergent outcome of the context related to the above parameters.
When you think of the two existing Zebrano Bars you cannot help but feel the explosion of fun in these places. They celebrate an explosion of energy and are filled with fun-loving people having a great time. This was the initial idea of explosion of energy, and we created the space by asking what the effect of this explosion would be once it was intertwined with materials and space.
When one discusses concepts which start with an abstract base or out-of-the-box thinking, one has to also surround oneself with like-minded people that have a passion for exploration and are excited about finding creative solutions to problems. Together, you must create a platform of collaboration where a problem is only a parameter for an interesting and innovative design, thus becoming a positive part of the process. In this respect I was very lucky to have clients such as Don, Cevat and Pauline, who were completely open and embraced the explorative and unknown. I was also lucky to have collaborators, staff, manufacturers who did not shy away from this challenge but plunged into the deep to help reveal the new and unknown. I believe that the result is truly explosive, exciting and unique.
Many of the interior furniture was manufactured abroad, in Kosova. We therefore had to send precise drawings and information and at the same time have people in the factory control the items locally. Having all of the fit together as one large puzzle was quite challenging, especially with the lighting sculptural components on the underground level.
Pulling it all together within a very limited budget and timeline – all to the client’s satisfaction. To see a client happy and pleased with the results at the end of a project, money simply cannot buy.
We recognise SBID’s International Design Awards as a great platform to showcase and measure our latest interior design thinking and developments around various parts of the world. We also love the team behind it, and the event ceremony itself is a joy to be apart of.
Questions answered by Perparim Rama, CEO at 4M Group.
If you missed last week’s Project of the Week with Siddharta Lounge, Dubai, click here to see more
Winners of the SBID Awards 2017 have now been announced! To find out more click here
4M Group | SBID International Design Awards 2017
This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features Goddard Littlefair’s healthcare design project that uses modern aesthetics to create a true sense of wellbeing.
One Stop Doctors is a boundary-changing health and wellness clinic, which sets a new standard of excellence in the private healthcare sector and offers patients on-demand medical expertise, along with outpatient diagnostics, physiotherapy, dentistry and aesthetics. This is all available within a ‘one stop’ clinic, available from early morning to late evenings and weekends to fit with patients’ busy working lives. The brief was to create an environment that embodied the instant premium touch-points patients might expect from a high-end service environment, while communicating the calm, soothing and welcoming feel of an obviously patient-centric experience, so that there is as little stress as possible at every stage of the patient journey. The design emphasis maximises the contribution of the environment towards promoting a sense of wellbeing and creating confidence in the clinical excellence patients will experience.
SBID had the opportunity to speak with Martin Goddard, Director & Co-Founder at Goddard Littlefair.
Company: Goddard Littlefair
Project: One Stop Doctors
Project Location: London, United Kingdom
The brief was to create an environment that embodied the instant premium touch-points you’d expect from a high-end service environment, whilst communicating the calm, soothing and welcoming feel of an obviously patient-centric experience, so there’d be as little stress as possible at every stage of the patient journey. The client was very keen to pull on our experience of premium spa and wellness centre design to achieve this.
‘We were not looking for the usual clinical healthcare design, but wanted a designer who could share our vision for creating an ambience that was relaxed, reassuring and tranquil, very comfortable and also aesthetically beautiful, but which still felt professional and reassuring to patients, so they know they are in the best possible care.’ – One Stop Doctors CEO, Ella Tracey
We began the project by researching the private sector healthcare market in terms of look and feel and found that most clinics so far had followed the American model, with a very cool and clinical treatment throughout. We wanted our emphasis to be different and for patients to experience a much higher level of design values, maximising the contribution of the environment towards creating a sense of well-being and confidence in the clinical excellence they’re going to encounter.
Then it was all about the idea of a journey, with seamless transitional environments helping the patient to progress through the spaces, decompressing them to be ready for the clinical areas. For example, the welcoming entry lobby area is more akin to a hotel or spa reception and features a sophisticated design treatment using art, texture and drama to give a real sense of arrival. The mood is welcoming and warm with respect for the architecture and full advantage taken of the natural light coming in from the courtyard. Semi-private areas beyond such as waiting areas or corridors feature a natural palette with softer colours, whilst the private areas – the consultation, treatment, dentistry and scanning rooms – also have a lighter palette. This series of colour transitions subliminally signals the patient’s movement from the welcome of arrival to a cooler feel for consultation and cooler feel still for clinical treatments.
Working with healthcare specification requirements and trying to integrate the medical equipment and required medical materials so they would not look too rigid, but at the same time maintained the high level of professionalism on offer.
There were two really. One was the pleasure of introducing art into the scheme using natural shapes and textures, so that the striking art pieces are properly integrated into the design. The second one was some time after the end of the project and finding out how well staff and patients were reacting to the space:
‘We are absolutely delighted with the finished product. Staff, visitors and patients alike are so impressed with the elegance of the design and the attention to detail, but also appreciate the feeling of warmth and comfort that it creates.’ – One Stop Doctors CEO, Ella Tracey
As well as naturally respecting the industry standing of the SBID, it’s also a real pleasure to have your designs recognised and admired by your peers.
Questions answered by Martin Goddard, Director & Co-Founder at Goddard Littlefair.
If you missed last week’s Project of the Week with G-Art Design for the Shanghai Zhihui CIFI Square Modeling Finance Office, click here to see more
Goddard Littlefair | SBID International Design Awards 2017
This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features the prodigious and monumentally ambitious project of introducing the Robinsons department store to one of the most alluring cities of the Middle East and distinguished shopping destinations of the United Arab Emirates.
Iconic Singapore department store Robinsons made its debut in the Middle East in Spring 2017 with the launch of a spectacular 200,000 square foot store at Dubai Festival City —the first of a collection of stores to follow in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). HMKM drew inspiration from Robinsons’ roots — in particular, from Singapore’s lush terrain and contemporary architecture. That dynamic runs through every aspect of the design, starting with dramatic facades which blend vertical gardens by renowned French botanist Patrick Blanc, animated screens and interlacing lines of timber and polished brass. Built around a series of spectacular hero experiences, the store’s design creates a distinctive new identity for Robinsons in the Middle East, celebrating its rich Singaporean heritage while looking firmly to the future.
Project Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
To create a store of inspirations! The aim was to build the largest department store in the region, at 200,000 sqft. with 600 local, regional and international brands. The first of a collection of stores to follow in the GCC. Robinsons was to offer three magnificent floors of contemporary and designer fashion, food, art and culture experiences. From 90 exclusive brands to a number of multi-tiered premium services, guests will delight in an immersive journey making each visit more enchanting than the last. Almost 160 years after it was first established, iconic Singapore department store Robinsons will arrive in the Middle East with the launch of a spectacular store of inspiration at Dubai Festival City.
HMKM’s vision draws its inspiration from Robinsons’ roots — in particular, from Singapore’s blend of green landscapes and edgy contemporary architecture — to produce a scheme founded on the notion of a future landscape. That dynamic runs through every aspect of the design, starting with a series of dramatic external and internal facades which blend large-scale animated screens with sinuous, interlacing lines of timber, bronze anodised aluminium and polished brass, alongside the large-scale vertical garden walls and columns by world renowned visionary botanist designer, Patrick Blanc. Throughout the interior, contemporary forms and digital elements are balanced with warm materials and lush planting.
How do you create a 200,000 sqft new department store in a unique and inspiring way? The answer was to employ a boutique design approach to the whole store design providing bespoke backdrops to the 600 brands, 90 of which are exclusive to Robinsons and including the first John Lewis to the region. A rich palette of materials and craftsmanship were employed throughout the store. For example in Menswear, the department is centred on a central pavilion defined by a slatted oak ceiling raft and fleshed out with herringbone leather panelled walls, end-grain oak flooring, warm lacquers and dark metal frames. In Beauty, the department presents a studio-style make-up zone framed in shimmering metal, centred under a bespoke geometric light installation and floored in honed Palissandro Classico and Kalliston marbles. Fragrance gets a softer feel, with rich marble and brass textures, soft Deco chandeliers and plush seating. In designing and planning the store, significant areas are dedicated to exceptional customer service including specialist tailoring suites for male and female local dress; bespoke printing, a cobbler, and personal shopping.
Realising the Boutique design to each of the category departments within a store of this size. Built around a series of spectacular hero experiences, its design creates an immediate, distinctive new identity for Robinsons within the Middle East, reflecting and celebrating its rich Singaporean heritage whilst looking ahead firmly to the future.
We are exceptionally proud to have been part of this well executed Robinsons store in the Middle East. The SBID awards, in particular the retail category, reflects the quality and prestige befitting this project.
Questions answered by Paul Digby, Creative Director at HMKM.
If you missed last week’s Project of the Week with Portview Fit-Out for Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, click here to see more
HMKM | SBID International Design Awards 2017
This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features an insightful and gallery-esque re-imagination of interior design and visual merchandising for high-end retail spaces. Portview Fit-Out was assigned with the task of implementing the new flagship store design for Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge.
Harvey Nichols is one of the world’s leading luxury retailers, renowned for its exclusive edit of the most prestigious brands across womenswear, menswear, accessories, beauty, food and wine. In 2015, an ambitious overhaul of the iconic flagship store in London’s Knightsbridge began with the Menswear department and in 2016, the Beauty department. Portview Fit-Out transformed the interior design of the two departments to enhance the overall shopping environment for style savvy, London shoppers. The Menswear department moved away from the traditional shop-in-shop format to become a collection of specialised boutiques where rooms are treated as a gallery of installations. The Beauty lounge features 221 brands and includes a fragrance space with a selection of over 75 scents.
Company: Portview, Universal Fit-Out Specialists
Project: Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge
The brief was to turn tradition on its head and, quite literally, think outside the box by moving away from the typical “shop-in-shop” format that is more commonly associated with department stores. We then applied “controlled disruption” to create a space that is effortlessly innovative and alluring.
We worked closely with designers Virgile + Partners to bend the rules of modern design and deliver an awe-inspiring interior that is the absolute expression of contemporary luxury. From creating a collection of specialised boutiques in the two-storey Menswear department; where rooms are treated as a gallery of eclectic art installations, to the new open floor design in the Beauty Lounge; which nurtures ease and creativity in equal measure, we delivered an exceptional interior that has redefined the shopping experience.
A project of this size and scale is always met with challenges. In this case, two existing load-bearing walls measuring 600 millimetres wide needed to be removed using a jacking system to open the space up and create a sense of fluidity. This required installing a large steel frame to support the five storeys above, which proved to be a challenge due to the phased renovation of each section giving us very limited space to manoeuvre in. As always, we rose to the challenge to enable the successful completion of the interior design of this ambitious project on time.
For the menswear department, we loved applying the design principles of ‘controlled disruption’ to juxtapose traditional, luxury fabrics with more architectural, textured materials. This includes 5,200 egg cups, pebble dash, stained plywood in sculpted 3D patterns, brick slips, and slate roofing tiles, to create a sense of movement and add visual weight. Working with unconventional materials was a great experience and the completed look is exceptional.
We know that the design and fit-out of Harvey Nichols’ Menswear and Beauty Lounge departments in Knightsbridge is world class and it deserves to be recognised on a global scale. Projects that are shortlisted for the SBID International Design Awards are the best in the industry and often set the precedent for future design trends to follow. The new interior of Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, is no exception as it delivers a new hallmark in luxury department store design that has never been seen before. That’s why we entered the SBID International Design Awards and are delighted to be shortlisted.
Questions answered by Simon Campbell, Managing Director at Portview Fit-Out.
If you missed last week’s Project of the Week with March & White for the Devonshire Club, click here to see more
Entries to the SBID Awards 2017 are now closed. To find out more about booking a table, click here
Portview Fit-Out | SBID International Design Awards 2017
Outside the Victoria & Albert Museum in London is a huge hoarding advertising a “unique property” – a “new residential development at a prime cultural heritage location.” There’s also a website to go to for interested parties – crownproperty.info
It’s all a huge joke, of course. Those who click on to the website will find themselves at a page on the Victoria & Albert museum for the artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset show Tomorrow. What’s so interesting is that this installation is the fictitious home of a 75-year-old unsuccessful architect called Norman Swann.
Pic 2. Bedroom of Tomorrow by Elmgreen & Dragset
But what does this tell us about the stereotype of the architect?
According to the Boyer Report: “Architecture schools should stop perpetrating the myth of the architect as visionary genius and encourage, along with design and theory, training in management, technology, and do everything in their power to discourage future generations of prima donna architects.”
Pic 3. Industrial-strength kitchen
I’d really like to ask some architects to see the show and tell me whether it misrepresents the profession to society.
Would this belong to an architect?
The artists explain how they started work on Tomorrow: “While selecting objects to furnish the apartment we began to envision pieces of dialogue between characters that we could imagine might inhabit the space,” explain the artists.
“So we wrote a script. It was sort of a reversed process where the props in our film set initiated the narrative. Now it’s our hope that visitors will interact with this set and discover their own clues as to who our fictional and quite eccentric inhabitant might be.”
The style of the house was traditional, old fashioned and tastefully furnished. The ultra-modern kitchen jarred as it was so out of keeping in terms of style and also Swann’s character. I don’t think his cooking ventured much further than a boiled egg.
It also reminded me of house viewings – would I buy this house? Yes I certainly would. Swann might be facing bankruptcy and forced to sell his home but he will get a few million for it and retire to Brighton, living happily ever after.
Author Fiona Keating, Editor at Inside Property
Last week, A-Gent of Style thought that the best way to start the weekend would be to mix business (design) with pleasure (well, one of them – food) and to have breakfast in stylish surroundings.
The London EDITION opened its doors during London Fashion Week last month and consequently got engulfed in a mediatised whirlwind. This opulent establishment is the third of the EDITION Hotel brand, co-founded by Ian Schrager – he of Studio 54 and the 1990s revolutionary (now derided) concept of the boutique hotel (The Sanderson, St Martin’s Lane, Mondrian, The Delano), – and Marriott International, which marks the return of the hotelier to London after almost fifteen years.
Located in Fitzrovia, opposite The Sanderson, The London EDITION is a 173-room hotel with plenty of charisma and history. The hotel is said to be inspired by ‘the grand traditions of Great Britain: the traditional, aristocratic English country manor and the London private gentleman’s club with a modern, edgy, urban feel’.
After a £33,000,000 makeover, the hotel can boast deluxe rooms, suites, a penthouse, two bars, a restaurant, a dance club and a 24-hour fitness facility. Originally built in 1835 as five luxurious townhouses still showing the Georgian hallmarks that characterize London’s finest residences, the buildings were combined to form the Berners Hotel in 1908, at the height of the grandeur of the Edwardian era. The sumptuous interiors, lavishly decorated with marble and intricate carved ceilings, are superb Grade II-listed examples of Belle Époque extravagance at its very finest.
The London EDITION has managed to make the transition to the 21st century swimmingly and has a plethora of modern design elements to prove it. Third time lucky, Schrager designed the hotel collaboratively with the amazing American design studio Yabu Pushelberg honouring the orignal features by blending them with sophisticated yet welcoming contemporary touches and innovation.
This result of old and new, past and present, authenticity and originality makes
The London EDITION difficult to pigeonhole or classify; what could have been transformed into an overbearing, grotesque pastiche of styles comes together as a seducing confluence of refined Georgian and Edwardian elegance, edgy urbanity and an undeniable pulsating energy.
The restaurant, Berner’s Tavern, run by none other than award-winning chef
Jason Atherton is where A-Gent of Style’s aesthetic and culinary experience began.
As I entered the room from Berners Street, I was first struck by the white, intricately carved plasterwork, mouldings and cornices, all original, featuring the gamut of medallions, urns, fans, muses and cherubs that you would expect from Georgian times. Two large ‘skeletal’ Fabergé Egg-shaped bronze chandeliers with naked bulbs inspired by the ones in New York’s Grand Central Station adorn the room (their shape reminded me also of Cinderella’s carriage even though this inspiration is probably unlikely and just the result of my wild imagination) – a great addition to anchor the room and scale it down. Underneath them, eight back-to-back demi-lune banquettes upholstered in beige leather and ebony chairs with seats in raspberry cotton velvet make up a central island topped with scattered candles (not seen on these pictures) which, I was told by the head waiter, give the room a sensual and intimate feel in the evening.
There is an impressive display of disparate gilt frames with black and white or colour photographs (expect contemporary still lives, interiors, statues, portraits and landscapes) on all the walls, themselves dipped in a warm lead colour with undertones of purple, similar to Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe.
The room with its reddish-brown chevron parquet is furnished with chestnut-brown mohair banquettes against the walls and two-seater bleached oak square tables with circular bronze pedestals (ideal when you have long legs like mine that can’t ‘navigate’ around table legs). Facing the street entrance, there is a long communal oak table with newspapers strewn on it in the morning that can accommodate ten diners if necessary, one of the welcoming touches of the ‘a home from home’ ethos of the hotel, like the glass sliding doors of the kitchen that let you have a peek at the work in progress.
If you enter the room from the foyer, the first thing you see is the central long bar with its imposing and bright sunflower-yellow, back-lit vitrine displaying a vast array of bottles; the bar is made of dark brown wengé, and is topped in aluminium; it stretches almost as far as the wall ends and is lined up with oak stools. Behind them, three sets of tables (travertine top and bronze pedestal, both circular) with leather tub chairs arranged as a quatrefoil (with a chic bronze nailing dotted around the top of the frame) offer a more intimate seating.
When you enter the hotel from the main entrance, you go through a glass box-like vestibule leading you into the foyer and reception areas. Large and imposing are an understatement here as the soaring ceilings and tall columns will take your breath away. It would be futile to try to narrow the style down to one era as old and new happily cohabit and complement each other. The surrounding walls, floor and columns are clad in the original marble which continues on the sweeping staircase in the corner. There are different ‘loungey’ areas dotted around the foyer where the guests can relax, entertain themselves, work or simply marvel at the aristocratic grandeur of the building.
The hanging egg-shaped sculpture in polished silver by Ingo Maurer presides over the room and is compelling, not simply because of its size but also by the mirroring effect that distorts the space (and the viewer).
The intervention of modern furniture and lighting like Christian Liaigre’s allows simplicity and minimalism and is the perfect foil to counterbalance the four majestic back-lit arches in antique mirror.
The color palette juxtaposes old with new: subtle, subdued off-white and taupey fabrics complement the bright green accent colour of the cotton velvet on some of the sofas.
Situated by an original fireplace, vintage-looking highback and wingback chairs by Frits Henningsen give this space delineated by a rug an air of Gentlemen’s Club.
There is a game area on the left-hand side of the foyer with an L-shaped deep-buttoned sofa leather upholstered in dark khaki leather and slipper chairs in mustard cotton velvet, siding a vintage billiard table.
On the left-hand side, a Donald Judd inspired black walnut table with pull-out chairs is fitted with Apple desktop computers and outlets for laptops, the perfect 21st century workstations.
The reception desk features a striking reproduction of a 1773 Louis XV Gobelin tapestry (that made an appearance in the The King’s Speech) stylistically confronting a contemporary art piece on the back wall that works like a convex mirror and changes colour (a recurring theme in Schrager’s hotels – see the rooms at St Martin’s Lane).
The corridor leads, on your right, to the lifts and restrooms. The Gents’ are wrapped in white marble with little veining and the joinery is bronzed, resulting in a definite air of sobriety and masculinity heightened by up-market fixtures in polished silver by Duravit, Geberit and Villeroy & Boch.
Nestled at the back of the hotel is The Punch Room; this is the private Gentlemen’s Club of the hotel that looks like an English country manor den with plenty of intimate areas: wood panels envelop the room furnished with tufted banquettes in Gustavian blue velvet, mint green leather tub chairs, dark brown leather club chairs, modernist brass sconces and a small bar in solid bronze tucked away in a corner.
Away from the communal, social spaces, The London EDITION is devoted to the personal, the private and the intimate, and to offering an individual experience of luxury and a retreat from the street.
Sadly, A-Gent of Style did not have the time to see the rooms and the 2,000 sq. ft. custom-furnished penthouse, all clad with wood panels in a Scandinavian style, which would require an entirely separate feature. As for the dance club, there is only one way to relive Studio 54 and review it…
So almost a year after the opening of The Wellesley, here is another glittering Grande Dame of hotels with a written and visual narrative that sees a new light of day in the English capital. The London EDITION offers the individual a new lifestyle and blurs the lines between home, office and playroom for relaxation and indulgence. Creating a unique atmosphere and aesthetic experience that give its guests a sense of belonging and satisfaction was paramount to the ethos of a hotel of this calibre. Mission accomplished.
Author: French Interior Designer Fabrice Bana, founder and editor of A-Gent of Style
As an interior designer I am always on the lookout for products designed with environmental consideration in mind. What better place to find such products than to visit the “ecobuild” exhibition held annually at the Excel, London.
This year again the event was buzzing with manufacturers showcasing their sustainable designs of new and innovative products and technologies, for the construction industry, lighting design, interior design and garden design.
Two products caught my attention this year as I wandered around the exhibition.
Beautiful hand made decorative lighting designed by Sarah Turner.
Sarah hand makes these decorative lights from every day waste plastic drinking bottles collected locally. You would not be able to tell where they originate from once the lighting had been created. They looked magnificent. After cleaning the bottles she sand blasts them to give the opaque look. They are then hand cut and sculpted in to decorative forms. Sarah uses her talent to help recycle just a few plastic bottles and thus contribute towards resolving problems of landfill site.
Timco wood is a wood plastic composite product made from 100% recycled wood chip and high-density plastics. This eco-friendly product is used for decking, cladding, fencing and balustrade system. It has the warm feel of wood with durability and water resistance of polyethylene plastic. As such the product is easy to install and it doesn’t splinter, rot or warp. It is also low maintenance and will look good for years to come.
The availability of the range of colours, materials and textures allows you to create many stunning contemporary as well as conventional looks.
The product is readily used in commercial environment but I would specify this product for busy, budget and time discerning families who prefer to spend their time enjoying the garden and family rather than worry about the maintenance and the condition of the decking, time and cost.
Written by interior designer Sangeeta Goyal
Inside Out, SBID Professional Industry Partners, are one of the UK’s leading suppliers of quality covering a broad spectrum of industries. All of their furniture is designed to meet the specific requirements of the restaurant, café, hotel, bar, leisure, club, health and educational industries.
Both durable and aesthetically pleasing, essential qualities for a contract environment, Inside Out furniture combine functionality with quality design at the most competitive prices. The team at Inside Out are happy to help with every stage of a project from design and space planning through to furniture delivery and installation.
Below, they tell us about their latest project: Westbourne House, London
Designed to bring a touch of elegance to the heart of Westbourne Grove, Westbourne House’s contemporary interior is a sophisticated mix of Parisian boutique and Manhattan loft. Inside Out were recruited to renew their interior and exterior areas, and offer a touch of the interior luxury for the exterior space.
Inside Out supplied Westbourne House with Whisk Chairs, a contemporary classic; paired beautifully with Manhattan Circular Tables, quintessential choices and a recognised staple for exterior environments the world over.
The use of Whisk Chairs paired with Manhattan Circular Tables gives Westbourne House’s exteriors a contemporary and luxurious feel, whilst ensuring they can maximise on their use of space.
Furthermore, Inside Out provided Westbourne House with chic and sophisticated bespoke length Lobby 1 sofas and Bespoke Units to complement the boutique style interiors. The project was a success with furniture perfectly complementing the style and atmosphere desired at Westbourne House.
The competitively priced Whisk Armchair from Inside Out is an inspiring alternative to the established classic. This stackable chair although only designed in the eighties is already regarded as a classic piece of design.
Originally a chair for the terraces of Spanish street cafes, the durable Whisk is completely weatherproof and suitable for a wide range of uses. Unusual for a mass-produced chair of this type, solid cast aluminium is used for the arms and seat in place of the cheaper and flimsier tubular alternatives. This leads to a reassuringly solid chair, which due to its ergonomic design is also very comfortable. The whisk chair is customisable and available in a wide range of colours.
Bespoke Length Lobby 1 Sofa
The Lobby 1 Sofa is a Georgian inspired design, typified by its deep buttoning and curving arms. Further attention to detail is paid with legs finished with brass castors. Our craftsmen and upholsterers pay outstanding attention to detail and every sofa is hand-made to exacting specifications, Westbourne house featured bespoke length Lobby 1 Sofas, and these durable and elegant pieces are available to any size specifications.
Inside Out can bring any ideas to life with our bespoke seating service, providing furniture made to exact specifications for any venue. Inside Out pride ourselves on our proven reputation for quality seating, and a professional friendly service. Our skilled production team are able to manufacture a truly diverse range of bespoke seating, which is both durable and design led.
Find out more about our flexible membership structure.
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