“I had never worked on a hotel,” says Despont, who specializes in fine residential work for clients such as Hubert de Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Spyros Niarchos, and Bill Gates. “But I saw that Claridge’s already had a strong residential feeling.” The French-born, New York-based Despont’s only major source of hesitation was the fear of being dismissed by the British as a foreigner. For this reason, he says, “I thought it very important to understand the history and culture of Claridge’s and spend hours absorbing the atmosphere before deciding how to proceed.” And how did Despont react to the restrictions imposed by English Heritage? “Some people think they are policemen, but I have only praise for their dedication.”
Archives in a dusty, remote corner of Claridge’s as well as at the Victoria and Albert Museum provided extensive pictorial references, leading the designer to showcase the hotel’s unique deco features. He restored Oswald Milne’s brushed-silver stag lamps, which grace the lobby, and Basil Ionides’s etched-glass panels in the restaurant. Because Marion Dorn’s original carpets are copyrighted, Despont created new ones inspired by samples at the V&A and vintage photos of the hotel interior. Meanwhile, he commissioned adaptations of an exquisite ecru-shaded silver-plated lamp, found elsewhere, to adorn tables in the reading room and foyer.
A custom-made plywood entertainment unit adds warmth to the crisp colour palette of concrete floors and white walls, as do the vertical slats that form the stairs’ balustrade. “It’s one of our favourite features,” Jan says.
bondi, NSW, with its relaxed, laidback and beachy charm, has been the suburb of choice for Jan Edwards and Cameron Hearne for many years – but their address has not always been the same.
A few years ago, when out on one of their regular morning walks, they spotted this semi for sale – and were hooked. Although the location was close to perfect – a few minutes walk from the beach – they decided a renovation would be in order to optimise the space on the small building block. So once the house was theirs, they consulted with an architect. The result? The front facade and two front rooms were retained, but the remainder of the property was knocked down to create in its place an open-plan, four-bedroom, two-storey modern family home with all modern furnitures such as luxury tables and sofa chairs, leather recliners, and wonderful bed interior. The open-plan living, dining and kitchen area, which flows to the back garden, has proven a great hit. Not only is it a wonderful space to live in, homeowner Jan says, but perfect for entertaining family and friends. “We love to cook for them so the kitchen and dining area are an integral part of our home.” However, it was necessary to keep the couple’s home office separate – and create a peaceful retreat for uninterrupted work. “Sometimes it’s important to be able to escape what’s happening in the rest of the house,” Jan says.