Nobu Hotel – Taking the honours
Taking the honours in the AHEAD Awards 2018 ‘Best Lobby and Public Space’ category is the elegant, newly constructed Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch.
Incorporating 133 guest rooms, 15 suites, reception lounge and tea room, terraced garden, conference facilities, spa and gym, the hotel is a glass and concrete building designed by Ron Arad Associates.
The contemporary 9,000 sqm hotel spans seven floors fulfilling the brief to create a ‘European Nobu’ concept befitting the spirit of London’s Shoreditch neighbourhood.
Interior designers Studio Mica established a shared vision with the architects to ensure a holistic concept bridging the interiors with the architecture that is unique to the Shoreditch location.
The team embraced Arad’s original architectural vision by exposing the structural concrete to become intrinsic, sculptural highlights of the interiors.
The concrete is juxtaposed by hand-crafted installations inextricably woven into the structural elements.
A clear example of this rapport is evident through the gentle animation of the façade at night, as sliding interior window screens frame glimpses of the guest rooms’ ‘floating’ globe lights.
Guests enter Nobu Hotel Shoreditch via the double-height entrance doors adorned with a layered pattern inspired by traditional Japanese Sumi-e brush strokes. The doors open to reveal a tranquil space; a vestibule in the style of a Japanese garden of lush greenery against a backdrop of shou sugi ban shingles.
The hotel’s four metre high, open-plan lobby is defined by three distinct zones: reception, lounge and tea room. Each area is designed to a harmonious balance of focal points whilst differentiating the character and activities of each space.
Upon entry, guests are greeted at a monolithic reception desk formed from golden-veined Portoro marble.
Beside the reception is the fireside lounge, featuring a studio mica installation of reclaimed tiles and Yorkstone flags.
Subtle colour variations and architectural shapes are woven together and interspersed with niches for tea lights. A dark blue corner sofa with soft tatami-style seat pads is accented by a specially commissioned collection of hand-dyed, boro-style cushions made with vintage textiles.
Tactile natural wood is set against a background of polished river pebbles, stacked cork tiles, structural concrete and patinated metal. A combination of indigo textiles for the upholstery completes the composition.
Full height windows extend the length of the lounge, with privacy provided by timber slatted screens.
Inspired by traditional Japanese tea houses, two suspended installations composed of framed woven paper and sisal, create perceived private spaces for socialising. Natural daylight filters through the different weaves, at night pendant globes glow from within.
An eleven-metre-long banquette made from elm timber and upholstered in taut blue horsehair fabric defines the length of the tea room.
A series of indigo-coloured cocktail tables are paired with ‘sushi’ stools trimmed with red ribbon, acknowledging Nobu’s signature accent colour.
Carolynne Shenton, director of Studio Mica said: “It was fantastic to win recognition in the AHEAD Awards which are highly prestigious within the hospitality industry. We are delighted.
“The client approached us very early on in the project, in which we played three roles – firstly as interior design consultants working with the architect; secondly as design guardians for the client during the roll-out of the architectural elements of the scheme, and thirdly we were employed directly by the contractors to design the front of house areas. We also worked with the hotel client on specifying guest-facing items.
“This is a very dynamic building and is Nobu’s first hotel in Europe. Nobu (based in Japan) want to make each of their hotels relevant to its locality whilst still reflecting the Nobu design brief. From a design point of view, this involved integrating gentle references to Japanese design with elements reflecting the locale of Shoreditch.
“The reception area is a long thin space and needed to house three separate functions – the reception itself, the lounge and the tea room – all in clearly defined spaces.”
Other areas on the ground floor include an 180 capacity conference/event space co-joined onto the reception area, and a satellite kitchen. This level also includes a small spa, gym, studio space and changing rooms.
The building’s two storey height basement incorporates a large kitchen, and a spacious 230 cover restaurant accessed by a dramatic staircase.
Studio Mica honoured East London’s traditions and contemporary vibrancy, the brand’s Japanese heritage and the assurance of quality throughout the hotel’s design.
The dedication to an understanding of design integrity is reflected in the broad range of artisanal craft and custom finishes to fulfil the studio’s vision.
Where a door opens, a screen slides or a surface is touched or engaged with, Studio Mica has contemplated both function and aesthetic purpose.
Furnishings are adorned in a compilation of textiles and fabrics, selected for their suitability for use in a hospitality environment, and for their appearance to form a consistent design narrative.
Where feasible, natural materials of solid timber, woven raffia, cork and marble have been used to give the interior design a perfectly crafted appearance.
Local artist Sichi was commissioned to create a series of unique paintings. These were reproduced and installed in each of the guest rooms as oversized prints with hand embellishments in gold.
In the Nobu Suite, original paintings are subtly integrated into timber panelling, conveying the significance of creative expression within the hotel.
The hotel’s 15 suites are located at the east end of the building. The arrangement of rooms was conceived to allow for creating private wings incorporating up to six rooms on each floor.
Seven suites have private balconies with views across the city. These stepped, cantilevered terraces are formed from steel beams projecting from the end of the building.
The interiors of these balcony suites celebrate the dynamic architecture by exposing tapered concrete columns to sculpt comfortable living, indulgent bathing and peaceful bedroom spaces.
Six of these balcony suites vary in size from 32 to 56 sqm. The apparent irregular room configurations invite guests to explore and discover the high-spec amenities and different features that their suite offers.
Each suite has been designed to accommodate the demands of the modern traveller; work, relaxed living and entertaining.
At 80 sqm, the Nobu Suite is the hotel’s exclusive VIP retreat. The timber lined entrance hall with concealed cloakrooms leads to a contemporary living room with open-plan kitchen and dining.
This allows the suite to host dining for 12 or private receptions for 40, with Nobu chefs providing in-room service. The suite’s two private balconies offer open air space for relaxed entertainment.
The separate bedroom incorporates a free standing bathtub, walk-in wardrobe, dressing room and a double shower with a view across Shoreditch.
The juxtaposition of the simplicity of raw concrete with the luxury of modern city style ensures a unique experience for the most exclusive guests.
Studio Mica’s vision was to create spaces that are responsive to the modern traveller’s needs and alter in ambience through day to night.
A sophisticated simplicity and refined elegance is the resulting gesture of hospitality with universal appeal, elements that are intrinsic to Nobu’s highly sought after quality and expertise.
Carolynne Shenton concluded: “Currently we are working on the addition of an extra floor to the hotel which will incorporate a number of penthouses.
“The client was very good to work for, was really open to new ideas and very much wanted a creative interior. It was fantastic to work on such a prominent project.”
PARLA specialises in the supply of a wide range of quality and competitive loose & fixed furniture solutions including joineries and cased goods for the hospitality and leisure sectors. As a third generation family-owned company, whilst specialising in offering custom/bespoke solutions, it also offers a unique product line developed with a variety of international designers. PARLA positions itself as suppliers to major hotel operators and mid to high-end restaurants globally.
The story of PARLA began with the first generation making furniture working for the Ottoman Royal Family and evolved over time into a modern operation with a 7,500sqm factory in Turkey with offices & showrooms in Istanbul, London and Dubai. The company has worked globally with all of the major international hotel operators, and additionally has a preferred supplier status with Hilton and Accor. As for the UK, after completing the work in Nobu Hotel Shoreditch, PARLA is currently supplying to two IHG hotels in London, and has recently completed the Ruya London restaurant in Mayfair along with the Haz Restaurant. It is currently supplying two restaurants in Manhattan and is also very active in Dubai with its eight-person team.
PARLA worked alongside Studio Mica, the interior designer of the project, as the manufacturer of the bespoke loose and fixed furniture at Nobu Hotel Shoreditch, which was recently awarded the prestigious AHEAD Europe Award for the Lobby & Public Spaces category.
Onur Ӧzgen, PARLA, said:
“At PARLA, we pride ourselves in working very closely with the designers of a project to realise the look and feel imagined and intended, whilst keeping in line with the budget targets set by the owners.”