THE DEVONSHIRE CLUB LONDON
Tucked away in London’s iconic Devonshire Square, right in the middle of the trendy East End, sits the City’s newest private members club and boutique hotel, The Devonshire Club. The increasing tendency of combining members clubs and hotels is exciting, and SPACE’s Tonje Odegard takes a look inside the refurbished warehouse and townhouse to see its magnificent transformation…
Completed in July 2016, The Devonshire Club has opened its doors to combine the well-known luxury of London’s West End, with the vibrant and hip atmosphere of East London. Just off Liverpool Street, the club is situated right in the heart of the City, which is constantly buzzing with both creative and financial professionals.
The five-storey building, owned by the Blackstone Group, has 68 bedrooms, in addition to a brassiere, three bars, a winter garden, its own secret garden, a cigar room, private meeting and dining rooms, and a wellness centre.
Conceived and developed by London-based creative real estate consultancy SUSD, headed by co-club founder Harry Harris, the club was completed with the help from interior designers March & White, another London firm, construction fit-out by ISG, and Nulty lighting designers.
The 58,000 sq ft 18th Century former East India Company warehouse and the large next-door Georgian townhouse were the starting point for The Devonshire Club. ISG and SUSD had several phases of reconstruction and refurbishment, a process that landed them two awards at the National Association of Shopfitters Design Partnership Awards in September. The six-storey warehouse was stripped out and modified, while the internal layout was reconfigured to optimise the space, with structural operations undertaken to allow new lift cores to be formed. Service risers for both buildings were also completed.
To connect the warehouse and the townhouse, a stylish glass bridge was installed, and a 1,000 sq ft winter garden was added to the rear of the townhouse, an area that now forms the spacious Winter Garden Room. As the space chosen were both listed buildings, there could be no alteration to the exterior façade, but there is no need to change the outside, with its raw, stylish Victorian brick that is so characteristic to London’s historic buildings.
The interior is devoted to high-end luxury, while maintaining the effortless coolness of the contemporary and evolving East End. However, The Devonshire Club wanted to be something different than every other private members club in the capital. Says Managing Director of SUSD, Harry Harris: “We didn’t want to be pale, male and stale, you know? In such a male-dominated environment, we wanted to challenge that and create a sanctuary of femininity.” The idea for the look of the club therefore came from creating an ideal fictional businesswoman. She’s elegant, she’s modern, she’s young, she’s ambitious. What would she want from a members club? “We asked ourselves questions such as ‘would she be comfortable in these chairs’, ‘would she relax in this room’ and ‘what art would she appreciate’,” explains Harris. The interior developed from there.
To complete this vision, March & White focused on a feminine look and feel. Using fuchsia, dusty pinks and corals throughout the selection of fabrics and finishes, it clearly differentiates it from the regular masculine clubs you normally see, making The Devonshire Club something quite special.
Entering into a stylish, sleek and fun reception, there are several elements that catch your eye. There’s the stunning chandelier, made of frisky, multi-coloured, hand-blown Murano glass from Venice, completed by the talented glass specialist Seguso. There are the funky, screened walls in antiqued mirrored glass and rectangular shapes, with massive floor-to-ceiling double doors that line the lobby. Then there’s the striking sculpture of a stark-naked golden man that meets you when entering the main club – it’s a real icebreaker.
With bespoke seating furniture from Sussex-based Furniture Works and joinery made by The Deluxe Group, a Northern Ireland-based company, Harris says he is incredibly proud to have used British manufacturers all the way through the interior. All the prints used for wallpapers, cushions and rugs are based on original fashion prints by Cristina Azario, made by Nattier Design – uniquely specified to the Devonshire Club, adding another element of originality to this luxurious boutique hotel.
“We’ve gone for a mid-century, Scandinavian-infused design and couture overall,” continues Harris. “Gio Ponti furniture provided further inspiration to create that 50s and 60s look.” Elegant, organic and curvy furniture play tribute to this, while the intriguing art and funky print brings it to life. March & White has interpreted the likes of Ico Parisi and Finn Jhul subtly and delightfully into the design. Art curator, Brian Clivaz, who’s also the club’s Chief Executive, has chosen pieces by Leonard McComb and Kitty North, both established British artists, to feature on the walls.
This haven of sophisticated glamour and contemporary undercurrent can clearly be seen in the Champagne Bar, just off the lobby. With slick finishes and refined furniture, it exudes an unquestionable extravagance, without being stuffy.
Next door is the Winter Garden, an oasis of green elegance with tonnes of natural light streaming through the glass roof during the day, and delicate and dim lighting during the night. The spacious lounge area is elegant and relaxing.
The jewel of the ground floor, however, is the spacious 120-seat brassiere with its stunning seafood bar in white marble. The bright and vibrant dining area is effortlessly sumptuous in calming, grey tones and mustard-yellow.
The entire ground floor’s colour palette, where darker oak, stone, mirror and stained glass have been applied, evokes a mid-century chic that is contrasted with the warmth of teak and golden walnut on the first floor and bedroom levels. This creates a sense of space and individuality between the different areas of the hotel. With wood flooring supplied by Dutch manufacturer Hakwood, the residential feel is maintained in a sophisticated manner. Bespoke colours of chevron, brick and herringbone pattern have been used in the meeting rooms, suites, the bar areas and in the staircase. In the restaurant and The Champagne Bar, tranquillity flooring from the Colour Collection in herringbone pattern have been applied.
Taking the lifts up to first floor, to the designated members areas, you walk into the causerie, which basically feels like walking into someone’s home. Still amazingly luxurious, there is a cosiness to it that is hard to create in such a large space. Colourful and playful, it has Alexander Calder-inspired installations hanging from the ceiling and elegant furniture.
On each side of the causerie, you find The Cocktail Bar and the Library Bar respectively. The Cocktail Bar is driven by a female ambiance, while The Library bar is more male-oriented.
Immediately grabbing your attention when entering the Cocktail Bar is the burlesque-like flamingo lamp with pastel feathers balancing on a flamingo leg. With its black piano and deep green velvet sofas, it is surprisingly feminine. Perhaps due to the curvy furniture and plush cushions?
The Library Bar is undeniably more masculine with its slightly rough, brown leather sofas and deeper shades of Wenge-stained walnut and rich, golden teak.
Each bar and restaurant has clearly been designed with a different audience in mind and therefore creates unique atmospheres in every area – this demonstrates thoughtfulness in the design.
The bedrooms and suites carry the similar mid-century look, decorated in warm and inviting colours, with dreamy beds supplied by luxury brand Hypnos. Cristina Azario’s fashion prints feature on the walls and cushions in the guestrooms too, and are accompanied by comfortable furniture. All of this is complemented by the stunning view of London’s skyline from the large windows, where all of the city’s signature buildings sits before you.
With incredible attention to detail in its high-quality materials and finishes, a walk through The Devonshire Club, let alone staying there, is an intriguing journey from the moment of entering. A perfect blend of unforced high-end luxury and an inviting, intimate and simple feel, London’s freshest private members club stands out for all the right reasons. Exclusive and sophisticated, yet warm and playful – it’s ideal for the world’s emerging and modern businessmen and women.