Goddard Littlefair Celebrates the Cultural History and Vibrancy of East London With Its Design for Mondrian Shoreditch London

by Francesca

Award-winning interior and hospitality design studio Goddard Littlefair have been appointed to realise the interiors for Mondrian’s newest hotel, Mondrian Shoreditch London. Acquired by the Reuben Brothers in 2020, lead consultant on the project, Goddard Littlefair has skilfully transformed the hotel to meet its ambitious opening date of Summer 2021. The studio, renowned for its spectacular work in entire hotel renovations, is responsible for the schemes of the reception and lobby, the double height ground floor cafe bar, rooftop restaurant, the UK’s First BiBo restaurant by Michelin starred chef Dani García and the bedroom refurbishment. 

The hotel has been significantly refreshed in line with the upbeat and individual spirit of the Mondrian brand always seeking to give guests a flavour of the local area. The studio’s design research delved deep into the history of the area and the characters that create the colourful social fabric of Shoreditch. The interiors take inspiration from Art and Literature, including the traditional nursery rhyme ‘Oranges and Lemons’ – due to the hotel’s close proximity to churches that feature in the historical rhyme. 

“We discovered that the well known rhyme ‘Oranges and Lemons’ centered around the churches in this east London area, with the site of the hotel at the centre. The longer, and much less well known, version of the rhyme paints a wonderful picture of the city in the 16th and 17th Century. The influence can be interpreted into the design of the interior in many different elements from lighting to materiality” comments Jo Littlefair, Goddard Littlefair Co-Founder & Director. Art and personal expression colliding with east London vibrancy became key design steers.

Upon entering the hotel, guests are met with a playful experience. The reception and lobby have reflective finishes with significant artwork installations for guests to discover, typical of the Mondrian design portfolio. Behind the reception, a circular neon art piece reflects off the bronze mirror while at high level, large scale gilded glass panels created by Studio Peascod take centre stage and depict a rising copper sun. In continuing the playful trope, Goddard Littlefair retained the hotel’s original strongly patterned floor and juxtaposed this with a concrete desk, pattina walls and reflective surfaces to create a strong sense of space, almost disorientating to the onlooker.

Expanding on this and in line with Mondrian’s artistic spirit and a homage to well-known installation artist Yayoi Kusama, Goddard Littlefair created a fully mirrored room, large enough for a small group to stand in. Globe lights circle the room giving the viewer a sense that they are seeing themselves in infinity is a tempting allure for a society who needs to capture every moment of life in a selfie image.

“As designers we’re inviting people to question their need and urge to do that, if they don’t take a picture, does that lessen the experience? We’re inviting guests to live in the moment rather than through digital images” suggests Jo Littlefair.

Tactile fabrics, leathers and soft linen window dressings combined with a graphic hand tufted rug soften the lobby space and introduce warm yet fresh colourings of sage grey and dusky blue, off-set by the crispness of a white linen sheer.

The design studio paid close attention to the cafe bar and rooftop spaces to ensure that the areas worked throughout the day as meeting, working and eating spaces that could transform at night into alluring evening venues.  Each of the public spaces link together but also have a distinct narrative, always drawing upon the rich history of east London. Throughout the reception lobby and across the ground floor to Christina’s Shoreditch cafe bar, a pendant light fitting was designed as a contemporary interpretation of the gas lanterns that were used as local London street lights. Increased in scale and stacked in multiple tiers, the lanterns run through the centre of the spaces, drawing guests from the external lobby to the new bar area. This piece along with a reception area pendant and bespoke floor lamp are produced by Hoad & More.

Christina’s, the double height ground floor cafe bar showcases a new concept for Shoreditch and serves Sando’s and Coffee during the day and specialist cocktails made bespoke for the hotel, by night. A curved copper bar transforms to the eye using light, changing the ambience in the room across the day and an assorted mix of large planting adds the natural touch. A large-scale hand-painted mural by Fred Coppin fills the clay rendered bulkhead above the bar and features a collection of objects to discover alongside Fred’s signature botanical shapes.

The rooftop restaurant, Altitude at The Curtain, is dressed with striped and festooned shade structures and will appeal to the guests and members of The Curtain alike. This area is a key asset for any London hotel and the Mondrian rooftop is sure to be a mainstay of Shoreditch life. Bright and refreshing during the day, the area transforms to an ambient and chic destination serving Californian Cuisine in the evening. A black framed pergola is softened with festooned striped fabric and the oversized rattan pendants and cane furniture speak a language of relaxed living.

The influence of biophilia runs throughout the space with planting taking a centre stage, curated by Conservatory Archives, a local planting company. The form of foliage is translated onto fabrics and onto walls on an oversized mural hand-painted by Lucy Robinson, Associate at Goddard Littlefair, who led the interior design team.

“The mural is inspired by the bold shapes found in Californian street art that has a simile to contemporary UK street art, the mural utilises mixed pastel colours to enhance the tones that appear in upholstery fabrics, handmade ceramic tiles and the original floor. The brief to ‘subtly represent botanicals’ uses colour and abstracted petal, stem and leaf shapes to provide a backdrop to the restaurant that will serve a bespoke drinks list and Californian cuisine”  explains Lucy Robinson.

A fireplace anchors a central seating group in the space, while a banquette lines the glazing to allow some privacy for guests in the pool. The bar overlooks the interior section of the rooftop space while externally sun loungers allow guests to take in the spectacular views of this part of London with the option to take a refreshing dip in the pool.

Well-versed in restaurant and bar design, Goddard Littlefair’s specialist food and beverage division Epicurean are responsible for the design of the BiBo restaurant. Founded by 3 Michelin Star chef Dani García, the launch marks García’s first UK restaurant and British culinary concept. When working with a chef of such international regard as García, the studio took great influence from his work, ethos, cuisine and origin and brought some of the influences into the restaurant space. BiBo itself also has a brand identity and colour palette that heavily infiltrated the design scheme and the studio dovetailed the identity of Mondrian spirit with García’s culinary legacy.

Located on the lower Ground Floor of the Mondrian Hotel, Goddard Littlefair’s intention for BiBo was to be a theatrical, urban space with a lively energy for casual lunches and spirited dinners. Globe lights cascade in ripples down the stairs leading to the impressive restaurant space. Upon entering BiBo, guests can decide to sit at casual high tables, restaurant dining, the Spanish Courtyard or at the bar.

In striving to brighten the space, the studio infused the design scheme with a light and natural colour palette. Light oak floors, soft clay rendered walls, reflective surfaces and a new lighting scheme was introduced throughout. Subtly referencing Andalucia and complimenting the brand colours for BiBo London, Goddard Littlefair included rose coloured handmade tiles, bordeaux red arched wall features and limed oak joinery.

The base palette showcases a contemporary layer of fun and frivolity. Adding movement to the space, an installation of Ceramic fish by Scabetti suspended from the ceiling swim through the room, celebrating Dani Garcia’s love of travel and instantly captivate the guests attention. Polished copper walls and rafts bounce around light and have dramatic oversized rattan pendant lights hanging from them. Over the central island bar a statement mirrored raft and oversized globe light are housed within a copper rod structure, a nod to the hot air balloon which features in other BiBo restaurants globally. 

Serving the same menu throughout, Goddard Littlefair has used the island bar as a tool for subtle division and to ground the space. The right hand side of the bar has been realised as a space for tapas service with high tables, glass tapas displays and close proximity to the open kitchen. The left hand side of the bar has areas of natural light, banquette seating and group tables to enjoy. The bar itself is surrounded by stools to enjoy watching the bar team make imaginative cocktails.

BiBo also enjoys a small indoor/outdoor courtyard, designed to feel like a Spanish haven in central London. Bold red walls and hanging plants all sit below a retracting glass roof. A private dining room for 12 people is located on the floor below, with the same character as the restaurant. The upholstery used includes antique tan leather, and teal & rose fabrics to activate the furniture. 

The guestroom refresh encapsulates a luxurious, theatrical aesthetic with fresh white brick walls framing the headboard wall. Rugs inspired by painterly strokes on canvas float under beds while the guest dining table area has been refreshed using uplifting colours and styled in a contemporary direction. The white pendant globe above the dining table connects the bedrooms to the concept running through the hotel and the artwork selections draw local influence and inspiration, themselves, inviting witty appreciation.

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