Meet our new Head Chef, Ian Howard
We head into Galvin at The Athenaeum’s kitchen to find out more about our new Head Chef, Ian Howard.
9th July 2018
The spirit of The Athenaeum blends classic Britishness, luxury and a little eccentricity. I wanted all of this to come across in the designs for the new rooms and suites.
Firstly, my team and I focused on connecting the rooms and suites with the Art Deco spirit of The Athenaeum’s ground floor. As a result, we introduced details to the rooms such as squared off cornicing above the beds and bespoke designs for the desks and lamps. We chose classic Athenaeum colour schemes to capture the amazing history of the property, as well as the present day.
The amber colour scheme in particular connects the rooms and suites with the Art Deco ground floor of the hotel. By adding touches of copper to the Art Deco desks, an incredible warmth comes across. The teal colour scheme offers another version of green and blue which adds depth to the views of the park and the sky from The Athenaeum.
Green Park was a major source of inspiration for me in the new rooms and suites. The hotel is located opposite the park, with a number of rooms overlooking it. I designed the curtain textiles in the rooms to soften but not dominate the view and bring in a lot of natural light, creating a feeling of space. That’s why I chose an ivory colour, with the border line dropped low to accentuate the height of the room. The carpets incorporate a range of shades in an idea that comes from light through dappled leaves in the park. It gives a subtle feeling of the park without dictating the ambience of the room.
Our choice of materials and design pieces aims to reflect everything people love most about The Athenaeum and its prized location in London. Herringbone is a core part of The Athenaeum’s identity, so we’ve used plenty of that. We have also drawn on the classic weaves as well as deep silks, velvets and leathers, creating a luxurious feeling while reflecting the hotel’s British heritage. I lined the wardrobe interiors with a linen material, to create some texture and to make the wardrobes feel plush and part of the room. I’ve also incorporated silk-covered furniture units to make the suites feel more luxurious. We introduced leather-embossed bronze rails to the walls opposite the beds, which blends classic British materials with a practical use, as it creates more storage space and offers an inventive way of hanging the television. Ultimately, it connects the rooms and suites together in a pleasing way when you’re lying on the bed.
Design pieces in the rooms and suites range from the Beetle Chair by the Danish designer, GUBI, to sofas in the suites by B&B Italia. I designed the linen sheers in the rooms, but all the curtain edging was done by a one-man-band in Hampshire, Sam Boy Textiles. He’s based in a tiny loom and makes handmade braids – the type that were originally made for horses! The curtain edging adds something fresh yet traditionally British to the design. I wanted to bring accessibility and technology closer together in my designs too, so we created some bespoke charging docks for the room controls, placed on the bedside tables and on the desk. They’re really easy to use and have UK and EU compatible plugs as well as USB sockets.
My team and I have also created new art pieces for the rooms and suites, which was really important to me. Art in hotels can be so boring! I wanted to create something that was fun and that people could look at for a long time. As a result, we created four new pieces of art. The idea is based on old theatre sets, which stagger back in multiple layers. They are inspired by the local area of The Athenaeum, so I did one each of Buckingham Palace, Burlington Arcade, Fortnum & Mason and the Royal Academy of the Arts (RA). Each piece is eccentric but English, local but classic, and Art Deco but with a bit of nuttiness. We’ve got everything from David Attenborough riding an elephant and the Queen with a corgi, to representations of Grayson Perry, the Rolling Stones and Einstein! The more you look, the more you see. They look back and they look forward. These pieces say a lot about where The Athenaeum is going – acknowledging the past but looking to the future.
All in all, the design aesthetic of the new rooms and suites at The Athenaeum creates a feeling of space, light and views. It’s classically English but a little eccentric, capturing a sense of place, with plenty of nods to Mayfair and Green Park. The colourways and design pieces are all about making the spaces calming and relaxing. There is colour, but it’s not too intense and it’s not saturated throughout the space. For me, this is the basis of creating a restful environment.DISCOVER NEW ROOMS & SUITES
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