Inside Nobu Hotel London Portman Square – a hotel that has caused a lot of noise recently on the international hotel design scene – there is a bespoke lighting narrative that flickers unlike any other. Editor Hamish Kilburn exclusively catches up with Lyn Newcombe, Head of Projects at Dernier & Hamlyn and Lewis Taylor, Design Director at David Collins Studio, to capture the full story…
The design narrative for Nobu Hotel London Portman Square was focused on creating an atmosphere of timeless elegance and contemporary luxury. In order to create the right ambience when it came to statement decorative fittings, bespoke lighting manufacturer Dernier & Hamlyn, which has been making bespoke lighting since 1888, became the obvious choice.
The brand’s work for David Collins Studio at the new Nobu London address saw its team’s extensive experience and wide-ranging artisan skills brought to bear in a variety of ways to produce more than 100 individual pieces, all of which were crafted from brass and hand-finished in bronze.
Lighting made by the brand features in the most spectacular areas of the hotel including wall, ceiling and pendant lights in the restaurant, bar and private dining room.
Particularly noteworthy bespoke light fittings crafted to David Collins Studio’s design schemes include:
- In the restaurant’s lobby lounge, a pendant some 1,600mm square and four square luminaires that sit atop cabinets containing wines and spirits comprise hand crafted brass frames fitted with glass panels on which bespoke parchment shades are fitted.
- Four bronze pendants finished in antique brass some 1,300mm in length are above the sushi bar which were hand cut, shaped and welded fitted with bespoke handmade seeded glass shades.
- 12 ceiling lights for the main restaurant feature reeded glass tubular shades and hand formed brass end caps. They are fixed using one-metre long, handcrafted brass rods fitted with solid brass spheres.
- An 80-metre brass track system to accommodate hand-folded, white-paper shades created by Danish bespoke shade maker Le Klint.
- 12 colonnade wall lights installed in the lobby ceiling, which were formed from brass sheets cut by hand, all pieces individually silver-soldered and finished in a unique bronze shade created by the David Collins Studio team. Light is softly dissipated through the 22 shades created by sandwiching luxury Spanish parchment between glass panels.
“We wanted the lighting to convey Nobu’s strong brand identity and to reference Japanese principles of design without making anything too “themed”.” – Lewis Taylor, Design Director, David Collins Studio.
“This project utilised many of our team’s skills to ensure the lighting we manufactured achieved the quality and attention to detail required,” Lyn Newcombe, Head of Projects at Dernier & Hamlyn, told Hotel Designs. “The lighting they produced for Nobu Hotel London Portman Square is even more exquisite than we hoped for and we have no doubt that the hotel’s guests and diners will have their experience enhanced by the mood it helps to create.”
Following the opening of the hotel, we talked to Lewis Taylor, Design Director at David Collins Studio, to shine the spotlight on the role of lighting inside Nobu Hotel London Portman Square from the designer’s perspective.
Hamish Kilburn: At what point in developing the design concept for hotels do you consider lighting?
Lewis Taylor: Lighting and custom lighting is considered at the very start of the design process along with all the other elements that make up one of our interior designs. Our starting point for a design is always to consider the feeling that the space should evoke, and lighting is such an important factor in creating and maintaining the overall mood of space.
With all the spaces we create, there is a common thread of design details, colours and textures that create the overarching concept and carries through from the furniture design, material selection, custom finishes, and bespoke lighting, that link everything together in a subtle and sophisticated way. So when we start to create this narrative of details at the beginning of the design process we are considering everything holistically, lighting included.
HK: How important is bespoke lighting to you and for which areas do you tend to specify it?
LT: Bespoke lighting really helps to give each project a unique sense of identity that you cannot find with simply specifying a piece.
HK: What were you looking for the lighting to convey/reference at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, and how did you achieve this?
LT: We wanted the lighting to convey Nobu’s strong brand identity and to reference Japanese principles of design without making anything too “themed”. We looked at simple and honest applications of materials and clean simple shapes that follow the forms created in the interior architecture. Warm and dappled lighting effects really help to give the space an inviting and intimate feeling.
HK: Nobu Hotels is known for blending modern, cool luxury and minimal Japanese tradition. What therefore was the lighting in the restaurant and bar areas’ role in this?
LT: In both spaces the lighting really adds intimacy and interest. In the bar the relatively low lighting levels and dark finishes mean that the lighting really pops. The Japanese book binding paper on the shades on the bar top are unique and the unusual triangular form of these bar lamps are mimicked by the textured glass ceiling pendants.
In the restaurant, the hanging pendants around the perimeter of the room create a calm warm glow, whilst the custom wall lamps on the columns reflect the light beautifully off the textured mirror glass columns.
HK: Very simply, why did you specify Dernier & Hamlyn for this project?
LT: We have a proven track record of collaborating to create unique lighting pieces that are finished to the highest quality. Their craftsmen and technicians really know the level of detail we will want to go into and the uncompromising quality that we expect. The process of transforming an idea off paper and into reality with them is also an enjoyable one with sampling and mock-ups to ensure the desired finished lighting effect in addition to the finished product.
HK: Have you worked with the brand on other projects?
LT: We have worked with Dernier & Hamlyn on many projects over our 35-year history, in a range of locations and varied sectors, from private home to hospitality and retail space. Our work with them on the custom lighting for Harrods Mens Superbrands being one of the more recent examples.
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Main image credit: Jack Hardy