South Kensington | London SW3

Contemporary Luxe An Art Collector’s Dream House

This project was the interior design of an ultra-modern new-build house in South Kensington not far from the famed Michelin Building. The original house was demolished to make way for the new build. The property developer had engaged the architects to design and build a five-story modern house, complete with cinema and swimming pool on the two sub-terranean levels.

The project was in progress when the developer put the interior design package out to tender. Purple Design was awarded the interior design contract and worked alongside the architects on the luxury finishes to fulfil the aims of the property development.

The scope of the interior design project was to design the concept for the luxury interiors, including some of the wall finishes, floor finishes and kitchen finishes, as well as the furniture, furnishings, lighting, sculptures and artwork. The brief was for the contemporary interiors to be designed with flair and given a luxury finish.

A smooth honed limestone staircase, lit at the stair treads, links all levels of the house, encased in glass balustrading panels for an open plan feel.

Purple Design selected the paint colours and specified finishing touches that make all the difference. Walls, ceiling and joinery were painted all one colour to create a continuous backdrop for the furnishings.

The first-floor walls and ceilings were given a specialist polished plaster finish so highly polished that the reflective surface outlines the square double archways framing the through-reception rooms. A feature wall in the adjoining reception room was treated to the luxury of a chocolate suede plaster finish.

The dual aspect double reception room has a Juliet balcony to the front and opens on to an outside terrace, towards the rear. Blond wood floors had been proposed by the architects, these were taken to a richer darker shade of wide plank wood-grained oak floorboards for the interior design. Sumptuous carved wool rugs with abstract curved lines and ovals carved on the surface, were commissioned and inlaid flush into the wood flooring in each of the double reception rooms.

Burr-walnut wall paneling specified by the architects, in the reception room to the rear, conceals the air conditioning system, with seamlessly inset backlit shelves for ornamental objects.

The atrium space linking the rooms is a veritable art gallery. Gunmetal-polished plaster plinths were built for a pair of ebony sculptures of female forms, redolent of sculptures by Botero. In the reception room with the juliet balcony, wall mounted sculptural artwork of metallic shiny bubbles by mid-century sculptor Curtis Jeré, chosen from a selection of collectable mid-century art statement pieces at Talisman, is on the wall facing the large contemporary abstract paintings, in even bolder, stronger colours than Rothko, which were commissioned specially for the space.

A pair of high-backed wingchairs, covered in a luxuriant purple silken-mohair fabric, were made bespoke, sit facing these red and purple abstract paintings from across the room.

There are plenty of arrangements for sitting comfortably. A contemporary corner sofa-chaise, oblong-shaped like an oversized footstool, sits at the foot the large abstract paintings. To the side of the coffee table, the corner sofa is paired with elegant square stools from Purple Design’ Diva collection, covered in an exquisite Italian cotton velvet, elegantly upholstered with a single square button-back.

A drinks cabinet by Purple Design with dramatic polished steels handles resembling an Anish Kapoor sculpture, opens to reveal a full bar crafted by the cabinet maker in a beautiful dusty-pink bird’s-eye maple, with glass shelves for bottles, a marble worktop and a fridge and sink for mixing drinks.

In the other reception room, two rectangular sofas, facing one another beside a contemporary open fire, with a view out to the terrace. The sofas are joined by a pair of oyster-white ostrich leather armchairs facing the fireplace, all gathered around a polished stainless-steel coffee table from Purple Design’s Diva collection.

Classic flagon-shaped smoky glass lamps lifted mid-air on a bronze base, with silk lampshades matching the comfortable shade of the walls, stand on the polished steel framed console with nero marquina marble top.

The back-lit onyx and polished nickel console table in the limestone-tiled entrance hall is a particularly splendid piece selected from the Purple Design’ Diva collection of furniture.

Full height wall-to-wall sliding glass doors in the fireside reception room lead onto the outside terrace. The terrace is furnished an as outdoor lounge area, lined with box balls planted in high rectangular plinth pots, shielded by opaque glass sails mounted along the perimeter external walls, specified by the architects. Glass lightwells inset in the decking on the terrace to allow daylight to the lower levels into the guest bedroom suite two floors below.

Tall repeating windows set into deep reveals in the kitchen on the ground floor level allow daylight and are screened from street level by extra-wide slatted shutters lacquered to match the wall colours for a seamless look.

The kitchen is a sleek contemporary sweep of smooth white corian work surfaces and high-gloss lacquered cabinets containing a multitude of high-end built-in appliances. The dining table is a classic contemporary marble table made in the mushroom-style design by architect and furniture designer Claudio Silvestrin, with dining chairs in the style of the Mies van der Rohe classic Brno design, upholstered in a silvery velvet for a pop of informal glamour.

The dining table is over-lit by a lighting centerpiece, an ornate curly-pipework of white Murano glass, decorated with glass frilled tulip cups. The chandelier of grey Murano glass feathers presiding over the reception room filled with artworks, is another dramatic statement piece of Venetian glass artistry.

The architects created an internal light well down to the little contained terrace of the bedroom on the first sub-terranean level. The guest bedroom suite on this level is light and airy, with white carpets and lavish billowing curtains, an elegant pale upholstered headboard, furnished with a writing desk and armchairs, with its own en suite bathroom in white marble.

The three bedrooms upstairs on the second floor are comfortably furnished and dressed in sumptuous curtain and upholstery fabrics. One of the bedrooms has a deeply button-backed headboard in silky fabric, another bed has the elegant square-button upholstery in the style of the little square footstools in the art-filled reception room from the Purple Design furniture collection. The other bed is upholstered in nickel-studded panels of elegant paisley woven brocade.

The master bedroom has a dressing room of bespoke walnut wardrobes leading to the lavish yet simple white and grey marble bathroom. The other en-suite bathroom and shower rooms are lined with tumbled limestone mosaic and earth-toned marble bath surrounds that blend seamlessly into the concept of comfortable understated modern luxury experienced throughout the house.

On the first subterranean level the cinema is a cosy screening room with sound-muffling suede padded walls and squashy sofas in muted tones. Art Nouveau style artworks lining the walls are original vintage drawings.

The house with its package of integrated technology including cinema, audio visual, lighting, window treatments and cctv, has a spacious double garage at ground floor level which comes at a premium in South Kensington, and a bespoke temperature-controlled wine room with walnut joinery and contemporary perspex detailing, on the first subterranean level. The swimming pool spa on the lower subterranean level is a real luxury, a tranquil slate-grey, quietly lit space with a steam room and contemporary spa loungers.

The furnishings needed to be luxurious, with exceptional details, to give the house outstanding individuality and desirability. The gallery of specially curated artwork and the extra 5-star leisure facilities are the icing on the cake of a luxurious contemporary lifestyle that this modern home is designed to offer.

The high spec finish was achieved on a competitively priced budget and was completed to tight time deadlines, with bespoke furniture finished on site by quality craftsmanship to fit to the exact measurements and specifications. The house was marketed for sale as a fully furnished home, and it was sold complete with all the furnishings and artworks, for the highest market value.

Orla Collins was appointed as Interior Designer to HAB Group’s development, on the Chelsea/Knightsbridge border. Orla worked with HAB UK and the rest of the Project Team until that property’s completion. The property is a contemporary design new build, set over five floors, which was launched to the sales market at a guide price of £11.75m.

Orla was appointed in competition with several other leading designers on the basis not only of her portfolio, but also her response to the original design brief and budgetary requirements. It was her attention to that brief which made her stand out – adhering to budgetary guidelines is vital in any development project and the style of finish for a resale project (as opposed to an end-user appointment) also requires particular care. Orla was the only Interior Designer who actually followed the budgetary brief and, in the final design, was able to achieve a look which belied its actual cost and was perceived to have been at least twice as expensive. Needless to say, that is exactly what a developer requires.

Orla’s portfolio of work illustrates her flexibility and working with her has confirmed her ability to add flair and value to a design scheme. Her finished scheme has impressed everybody who has seen it and has complimented the architect’s overall design. She has also managed to produce a scheme that feels like a ‘home’, as opposed to a ‘development’, mixing both interest and uniqueness with the requirements to appeal to a broad viewing audience.

I would have no hesitation in working with Orla again and fully intend to do so for future projects. On a personal level she was excellent to work with, flexible enough to consider the varied requirements of the developer and Project Team but strong enough to ensure that her design vision was seen through. I have no doubt that the qualities she demonstrated during this project would translate equally well from resale development to end-user interior scheme.

Mark Leighs ACA
Development Director – HAB UK Ltd