THE RETURN OF THE KING OF CLUBS & LONDON EDITION



 

‘It’s a different reality’

– Ian Schrager –




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.






The food in itself was perfectly enjoyable: avocado and eggs on toast, poached smoked haddock, toast and jams, fruit and vegetable smoothie and being partial to ‘tablescapes’, I was very delighted to have my white tea served in an antique silver Edwardian tea set. A few personal, subjective grievances though: I did miss the crisp white linen cloth and I was expecting loose leaf tea rather than a tea bag – call me old-fashioned but I do love indulging in the whole ritual of having my tea with a strainer, its stand and all the other paraphernalia; the service was nonetheless superlative (it was only 9.30am and the room looked deceptively empty, perhaps because of its largeness).




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 ‘Easy’ 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.

NB: Ian Schrager will be the headline speaker at this year’s Sleep event.
A-Gent of Style might see you there.



PAD LONDON 2013





One of A-Gent of Style‘s favourite times of the year has arrived. And we are not talking birthdays or Christmas here. We are talking ‘PAD time’.





The Pavilion of Art and Design celebrates its 7th anniversary in London this year and returns to Berkeley Square to dazzle and inspire us once again
with the crème de la crème of objets from the world of 20th C and contemporary design, decorative art, photography and jewellery.




A roster of sixty highly respected galeristes and antique dealers from all around the world will showcase iconic and coveted pieces. A-Gent of Style is already looking forward to seeing the stunning signature room-like vignettes, created and curated by the exhibitors, that have now been inextricably associated with PAD.
Rather than looking like sterile showroom stands, theses decorative panoramas resemble apartments with astonishing combinations of wares interacting and living harmoniously next to each other. Eclecticism, authenticity and connoisseurship are key at the boutique fair where collectors, interiors specialists, design practitioners, art consultants, museum experts and the public gather to share their passion for the decorative arts.





There is an indisputable youthful, dynamic yet serious quality to the fair that makes PAD so special and inspiring. A-Gent of Style has his favourites but is also looking forward to discovering new and returning participants like
Gallery Matthieu Richard.

Will a Polar Bear be spotted this year at PAD?! All will be revealed this evening at the Collector’s Preview.


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APPARENTLY IMPERFECT: APPARATUS





“It’s about trying to find the perfect imperfect”



Three. This time, three degrees of separation stood between
A-Gent of Style and today’s topic. A fortnight ago at Decorex 2013, his friend
 Tim Walters from George Spencer Designs introduced him, sadly too briefly, to Zak Profera of the design brand ZAK+FOX they now represent in London.




woof woof

ZAK+FOX, #woofwoof



A-Gent of Style had seen ZAK+FOX fabric collection recently in publications but it is only when he did his homework online a few days later that he came across this photograph. 

Shinji aka Fox with Strada Study fabric and Triad 3 ceiling light from ZAK+FOX and Apparatus


A-Gent of Style immediately recognised the brilliant photograph he had seen circulating on the blogosphere of a ‘fox’ sitting on a Beni Ourain rug in front of a striking greyish background that resembles a cross-section between a piece of marble or wood. What was very catchy and memorable about this photo was not only the dramatic foil but also the posture of the cute ‘FOX’ (Profera’s dog called Shinji) sitting attentively upright on his hindquarters and staring upwards, transfixed not by a juicy bone but by a…lighting fixture. Genius.



Which finally brings us to Apparatus, the brilliant New York lighting fixtures company for whom A-Gent of Style fell head over heels.



Gabriel Hendifar
and Jeremy Anderson are the two founders and designers of this studio based in New York who create beautifully handcrafted lighting pieces. Apparatus was born after the couple realised they couldn’t find the utilitarian yet elegant lights they were looking for. “We were looking for something that spoke to the dichotomy between complexity and utility. There is something oddly complex about our fixtures, but ultimately I think the pieces achieve their function in quite a utilitarian way”.




The creative duo – Hendifar’s background is in fashion and Anderson’s is in public relations – create unique pieces that are either made of vintage and salvaged components as well as pieces from contemporary materials. They work with artisans to develop metal, glass, wood and even porcelain components but ultimately assemble every piece individually by hand. Finishes come in aged, silvered or blackened brass or oil rubbed bronze and give the objects an incredible patina that look time-worn  and definitely not like a machine-made product from a production line. Some of their fixtures like the Highwire and Arrow make use of calfskin or even python-patterned leather. 


Their creations are undeniably influenced by 20th C design (they credit the kinetic sculptures of Arthur Ganson as one of their inspiration as well as the aerialist Philippe Petit’s high wire exploits) but look thoroughly modern (especially with the Edison exposed filament clear bulbs). They have a distinct industrial, masculine look that contradictorily is not devoid of charm, character and charisma. Far from it. Despite being static, the mechanical and architectural aspects of the lights allow them to follow a trajectory or float in the case of the Clouds. The various permutations of the designs can be geometric and balanced but also irregular and asymmetrical depending on the segments and pivots of the armatures. The end result is arresting, playful and beautiful. They certainly tick all of A-Gent of Style‘s boxes when it comes to lighting fixtures just like Gareth Devonald Smith‘s pieces or Bert Frank‘s.




Their first collection displayed modern and geometric shapes with aged materials like the reclaimed wood from derelict water tanks of the Column Lamps or the Cloud chandelier with its frosted glass orbs and two-toned chains.
Pieces from their second collection include chandeliers, sconces and an inaugural fabric collaboration with ZAK+FOX, such as the grey Strada Study linen on the photograph with FOX, now also available as a wallpaper.


Apparatus
‘s creations are show-stoppers and the perfect strucural element to decorate and enhance any neutral room. Some of their pieces, like the Cloud or the Synapse inspired by the mechanics of neural synapses and composed of two hand-moulded glass domes, already look like vintage, sought-after pieces.

Buddies

Lariat

Lariat



 

Cloud

 

Some of the finishes

 

Arrow

Arrow

 

Gabriel Hendifar

 

Highwire

 

Twig 5








Twig 1

Twig 1

 

Twig 5

Twig 5

 

Column Lamps

Column Lamps

 





Jeremy Anderson

 

Synapse

Synapse

















 

Triad 15

Triad & Dyad 15

 

Triad 9

Triad 9

 

Triad 3

 

Dyad sconce

 

Compass









The talented pair has another string to their creative bow and offers interior design services. Here are some examples of their elegant, urbanite projects that you might recognise from recent publications.


















And in case you haven’t been illuminated enough by Apparatus, there’s of course Instagram (apparatusstudio) and for now a short video of one of their projects, Buddies :




http://vimeo.com/66180994



– Photos by Apparatus, ZAK+FOX and A-Gent of Style

 

 

 

 

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