Friday 06 Jan 2012


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The brief was to create a cool party venue combined with a dramatic yet functional bachelor pad.


When this Mayfair mews house was first discovered, the only hint that it was once the former studio of legendary photographer, Terence Donovan, was a blue plaque on its Grade-II listed facade. Inside it was forlorn and semi-derelict. The client's wish was to make it swing again as it had so famously done in the Sixties, by creating a fabulous entertaining space that could also operate as a functional home.

The Candy & Candy design team, recognised internationally as a pioneer of bespoke and innovative design, applied its complete project management service to transform this derelict shell into both an architectural triumph and a beautifully bold interior scheme, bringing the client's fantasy to life.

The entire entertainment space is fashioned from Egyptian grey stone and boasts unique features such as a bespoke dining table on a glass floor which looks directly down onto the swimming pool, a dramatic double height ceiling from which hangs a bespoke chandelier and an illuminated 400 bottle champagne wall. The resulting masculine based design with its dark and moody interiors, atmospheric lighting, and industrial materials, gives the impression of the ultimate after-hours party venue.

The client was a young international entrepreneur and nightclub owner who wanted the ultimate home hangout environment where he could bring friends to after hours. It was a very traditional looking mews house, and the facade was Grade II-listed, but the owner wanted it to be dramatically different from the moment you stepped inside. There was an element of practicality and functionality required - he needed a master bedroom and several guest bedroom suites, plus a staff apartment, leisure facilities and garage all in a relatively compact space - but since it was effectively a 6,000 sq ft shell with the inside almost derelict, Candy & Candy had carte blanche to turn the client's fantasy into a reality. The brief also demanded that the property worked equally well visually and functionally in the daytime, despite it being a night-time themed space. No evidence of ‘the night before' was to be noticeable which required highly durable and cleanable materials and flexible use of lighting, as well as a variety of spaces serving different purposes - warm and welcoming in the daytime and dark and moody at night. The client had a high interest in IT and the brief therefore extended to include seamlessly integrated IT systems and the ability to centrally control all lighting, air conditioning, music and other multimedia throughout the property, even when the client was overseas. The air conditioning and technological systems had to be highly sophisticated to simultaneously cope with ventilation for up to 150 people, all living spaces and operation of the swimming pool. Plus no air conditioning units could be visible to the owner or his guests, which required extensive planning and clever use of concealed features.

This was a masculine design, based in part on Ken Adams' sets for the James Bond films. The owner had plenty of light in his other main home in the Mediterranean, so this was an excuse to create something dark and moody. A clean palette of dark stone with patinated bronze metal and highlights of polished brass was the predominant colour theme. The materials also had to be very durable to ensure it would continue to wear well and always look good, so no delicate finishes were used. There is an instant sense of drama from the moment you enter the property with the striking double-height open plan reception space fashioned from Egyptian grey stone. A bespoke 7 tonne steel chandelier with a blackened metal finish dominates the room providing mood lighting both for the mezzanine living area above and the dining area and reception below.

A ‘champagne wall' where 400 bottles of champagne can be chilled and illuminated together dominates the view from the mezzanine level and links the comfortable lounge area to the contemporary design of the dining and kitchen area below. The glass floor beneath the bespoke dining table looks down onto the 15 metre lap pool in the basement, complete with steam room, sauna and gymnasium, which has been cleverly connected with the main reception not only via the glass floor but also by clever fibre-optic lighting. Patinated brass fins with polished brass detailing and leather clad finish feature throughout the reception structure providing a consistent theme and set the tone for the design. The downstairs kitchen is a fully bespoke design with metallic lacquer units, stainless steel worktops and a glass door, which provides a playful glimpse into the garage, which has been painted entirely red. The mezzanine living area offers a softer contrast to the drama of the main reception room. Electronic glass doors reveal a double height external ‘green wall', which creates a mini microclimate and an internal garden effect in a very urban living environment. The lounge furniture is all fully bespoke and includes vintage lamps, a double day bed upholstered in charcoal grey wool and bespoke coffee table with built-in champagne bucket.

The study is influenced by Fifties Dunhill lighter with dark stained, high gloss walnut as the predominant theme, and a contrasting dark timber feature desk with bronze legs and leather-wrapped desktop and draws, and a white marble floor. It also features a two-way mirror panel, which is embedded into the champagne wall on the other side and offers a secret aerial view over the main reception, dining and mezzanine areas. The master bedroom exemplifies the masculine, industrial design theme further but with contrasting softer touches. Two feature walls dominate the room - a black patinated steel wall with stud detail and integrated double-sided plasma screen (linked to the next door conservatory) and a softer leather wall behind the master bed with a finish of patinated bronze verticals. A concealed door leads through to the study whilst the master bed is separated from the bathroom suite, with its cosmic black stone and Jacuzzi bath, by vertical blades that provide a transparent view of the bathroom from the bedroom and vice versa. The master bedroom also has access to the conservatory which also overlooks the ‘green wall' and provides a restful retreat full of natural light. Finally a dressing room, again featuring the strong dark stained walnut furniture, with built-in shoe storage and display wardrobes, and leather-lined dressing table completes this masculine master suite. The second bedroom focuses on a lighter colour palette with light silver-grey stained oak floor, full width sheer white curtain, and a white free-standing bath tub in front of the fireplace. The final two guest suites have been designed simply but with a rock ‘n' roll edge to be in-keeping with the overall design scheme. Sparkly silver walls, light curtains, baroque style wardrobes and statement wallpaper on the ceilings define the character of these additional bedroom suites.

The brief for the project was entirely functional despite the entertainment space aesthetic requirement. Throughout the property, concealed lighting connects all the areas from pool to reception to the bar and into the private areas. The light from the swimming pool reflecting through the glass floor panels under the dining table provided additional party lighting for the main reception area. The champagne wall with its dual functionality of refrigeration and visual feature illustrates how design has not been compromised for reasons of practicality. Concealed storage, such as the cloakroom under the stairs, blends entirely into the fabric of the architectural structure and fire screens are cleverly integrated into the leather clad, patinated brass structural fins in the main reception and drop down seamlessly from the ceiling when required. The inclusion of an external light well stretching from the roof right down to the basement level covered in a ‘green wall' was not only an aesthetic choice but a practical choice too as it fresh air was naturally pulled down to the basement and drawn into the air conditioning unit for the whole property. This meant here was no need for duct work to be thrust throughout the building.

Candy & Candy

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