Chess Club – A celebration of authentic style
Celebrating style in its most authentic form, Experimental Group has stirred up the London hospitality scene this spring with the launch of an exclusive new private members club, the Chess Club (Mayfair).
With 17 internationally acclaimed cocktail bars, restaurants, wine bars, hotels and now members clubs across Paris, New York, Ibiza and London, Experimental Group – founded by childhood friends Romée de Goriainoff, Pierre-Charles Cros and Olivier Bon, along with Xavier Padovani who became a partner in 2010 with the addition of London’s Experimental Cocktail Club – changed the face of Parisian hospitality before setting their sights further afield.
In their signature ‘je ne sais quoi’ style, the team have partnered with Francesca Zampi of Found Entertainment, to create Chess Club – which is their very first members club.
A cultural melting pot for a diverse collection of enterprising members, the Chess Club breaks free from the shackles of a traditional Mayfair club, instead nurturing young talent and an entrepreneurial spirit.
Main contractors for the fit out of the club’s stunning interior were PBH Shopfitters, whose high quality workmanship shines through in every detail.
Fran Hickman brought her unique perspective on interior design to Chess Club, drawing on the concept of a modern day salon. Fran’s interiors celebrate the townhouse’s original Georgian features whilst seamlessly integrating the finest contemporary design. Layers of reference merge to create culturally nuanced, highly functional, exquisite environments in which to meet, eat, work and socialise.
A key element of her design are the 257 butterfly bookplates adorning the restaurant walls. The walls are inspired by a trip Fran took last summer to the Turin apartment of the late Italian architect and artist Carlo Mollino, a space also covered in prints of the winged specimen.
After discovering that the butterfly prints came from a 1950s photography book, she ordered six copies — and the results are stunning. “The way the butterflies have been printed has a depth and shimmer that gives them a really lively quality. The colour is extraordinary,” she says. “I love how they pick up the light, particularly in the evening when the space is candle-lit.”
All of the other design elements have fed off the butterflies, she adds, referring to the burnt orange and blue dining chairs, and sunshine yellow Kvadrat textile banquettes.
The naturalistic note continues upstairs, where the bespoke textile and wallpaper artist Anna Glover has created a series of silk screens conjuring a nocturnal Garden of Eden that’s strewn with serpents — and of course, butterflies.
The menu remains a cornerstone of the club, designed by chef and star of the London restaurant scene, Jackson Boxer (Brunswick House), with an accessible but refined selection, packed full of delicious British ingredients.
Complementing the food is an impressive wine list and creative cocktail menu that combines the ubiquitous classics of the founders’ history with newer interpretations. Curated by the boys with a focus on smaller independent growers, the drinks list introduces sustainable wines from all over the world and cocktails shaken with craft sprits.
Francesca Zampi, comments: “I have long yearned for a place like this in London and so I was thrilled to open a club with the Experimental Group, who have adopted London as their home and who share my passion for creating life-enhancing experiences that are quality focussed but unfussy and fun.”