Meet the interior designers making Mayfair and St James’s that bit more beautiful
Words: Charlotte Pasha
“Mayfair is where many of our clients live and work. So many people from history have chosen to live in Mayfair, we like to think our work helps to maintain the area's prestige. Depending on where in Mayfair you are, most of the residences were designed and built between the Georgian and early Victorian eras.
Our lifestyles have changed so much over this time, that despite our appreciation for the elegant period architecture, often the layout of the rooms aren't fit for purpose by today's standards. Furthermore, the properties often have thick walls, which can make them feel dark. Often, the two things our clients want to fix is natural lighting and layout.
We recently worked on a project in Grosvenor Square, for a client who had purchased a new-build penthouse apartment. The client said they wanted their bedroom to feel as if it were in the clouds, away from the hustle and bustle outside. We installed several features to deliver on this aspect of the brief in a delicate and not over the top or literal way – shimmering, fabric wallpaper, curtains made from a rare silk sheer shot through with an ethereal cloud pattern, and bespoke designed pendant lights, that cast cloud-shaped patterns across the room.
We have a client in Mayfair whose townhouse we are remodelling to accommodate two new home office spaces, an enlarged wet room and home spa, and transformation of their garden courtyard into a more serene and usable space. I don’t think our client would have had these same priorities in their brief 18 months ago. Initially, the pandemic forced many to adapt the ways they live. Our homes have had to work harder catering to the whole family simultaneously working, living, eating and unwinding at home more often.”
Much of my work has been in Mayfair, from Little House to Harry’s Bar, Scott’s and Annabel’s. Scott’s is perhaps the project Ii return back to the most and love. It was designed in 2006 and still feels elegant.
I gravitated to Mayfair for its sense of longevity, not designing with fads in mind but creating long lasting and high quality interior spaces full of style. Every project should be a classic but not necessarily classical.
The Mayfair aesthetic is timeless yet increasingly I think it has a playful and irreverent eye. I like Drakes on Savile Row, Heywood Hill bookshop, The Curzon cinema, Hertford Street is always wonderful, Kitty Fishers, The Guinea. I’m excited to see what happens with the In and Out Club on Piccadilly and the former American Embassy. I adore the architecture around South Audley Street, particularly number 75 which I know is an ambassador’s residence but has great character. Next up – in Mayfair I’m working on a new restaurant on Mount Street and a hotel in Soho.
GUY OLIVER, MD OF OLIVER LAWS
The challenge of working in the area is the distraction of all the beautiful galleries and shops. Mayfair has a unique character. There is a strong sense of history and in many ways the streets are like an open-air gallery. Within a relatively small geographical area you find every period and style of architecture.
I love visiting Farm Street Church and Mount Street Gardens, Thomas Goode, The Royal Academy; Sotheby’s Restaurant (Caroline, the Maitre d’ is a star, and you get to walk around the galleries for the previews afterwards), Marchesi patisserie on Mount Street, Kai restaurant and Helene Darroze at The Connaught.
I’ve worked on some amazing projects in the area. Assouline Bookshop on Piccadilly; Ronald Phillips Ltd on Bruton Street; Ely House on Albemarle Street; rooms and suites at Claridge’s Hotel; The Connaught; The Carlton Club and The Traveller’s Club as well as exhibitions at Clarence House and Lancaster House.
Private homes on Grosvenor Square, Upper Grosvenor Street and Upper Brook Street and a set in Melbourne House. Next, I’m looking forward to starting work on a new boutique hotel on South Audley Street.
SHARON LILLYWHITE, FOUNDING PARTNER OF OLVIER BURNS
Our ethos is ‘Thoughtful Luxury’. The largest proportion of our projects take place in London’s ‘golden postcodes’ such as Mayfair.
The area has a real sense of understated luxury and exclusivity with a quintessentially British feel. It’s been wonderful to see iconic areas such as Bond Street full of life again after lockdown. One of my favourite places to explore is Burlington Arcade. I also love Sketch for afternoon tea and a visit to the Royal Academy of Arts which always has an inspiring exhibition on.
A landmark development project for us was Walpole Mayfair, the former home of Britain’s first and longest-serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole. Located next to The Ritz, we transformed this home into five super-prime apartments that showcased our signature blend of quintessentially British style with the ultimate in wraparound comfort.
We also designed a beautiful Georgian townhouse in an exclusive enclave for a lovely long-standing client. Set over five stunning floors, we worked closely with the Grosvenor Estate, English Heritage, and conversation officers to restore this listed building to its former glory.