Opened in 2014 on London’s South Bank, Mondrian London is owned by Morgans and occupies a superb location in the landmark Sea Containers House. The dramatic building, which has 359 rooms, has been enhanced with an iconic interior from Tom Dixon.
Who designed the Mondrian London?
Owned by the Morgan Hotel Group, the interior design and some exterior remodelling was created by Tom Dixon and the Design Research Studio. While its style is wholly unique, there are flourishes, notably the lobby’s burnished copper ‘ship hull’, that make it quintessential Tom Dixon.
What is the concept?
Sea Containers House was built in 1978 by Warren Platner, a Modernist American architect renowned for his ocean liner interiors. This, plus the hotel’s location on the river, its name and the fact that the owners are Anglo-American, naturally leant itself to a transatlantic style. From a starting point of a Golden Age of ship travel, Dixon has added the best elements of Brit style and Americana and incorporating metals and brass throughout.
How does the theme play across the hotel?
The hotel’s public spaces are deliberately impactful and vivid – the Dandelyan lounge bar with its pink leather seating, dark green walls and huge emerald marble cocktail bar is a classic example. There two other monumental bars – one in stainless steel, reminiscent of an American diner in the restaurant, and an art-deco inspired solid brass one on the roof top bar. The screening room is done entirely in navy and royal blue, with 3-D tiles. Meanwhile the bedrooms are calm and subdued with a cabin feel, done in shades of grey with splashes of colour to create a peaceful haven for sleep.
Were there any challenges?
Although the structure was designed as a hotel and is relatively modern, reconfiguring a building of this size is a challenge. The Sea Containers campus also contains the office of Ogilvy Group, so a distinction had to be made between the two businesses while keeping continuity of space. The twin aspects of the huge lobby are delineated with architectural distinctions and fitted with sound-absorbing chandeliers keep the space human-sized. Dixon also admits he was worried about the sub-basement AGUA Spa, which is literally below the water line of the River Thames. In the end he embraced the concept and has created a ‘luminous underwater world’.
Were any artists or craftsmen commissioned?
Absolutely. As well as Dixon design flourishes throughout the hotel’s public spaces and bedrooms, plus Platner’s iconic Modernist chairs, the hotel lobby features a Claes Oldenberg-style sculpture of a huge anchor chain made out of bright blue polyurethane foam, which can act as seating. Also in the lobby is a burnished copper ship hull, dominating the huge space.
A huge copper ship hull?
To say that the entrance and lobby is impactful is an understatement. The 68-metre-long patented copper hull starts as an exterior canopy, slices into the building and connects the Lobby with the riverside restaurant and bar. 160,000 nails were used to construct the copper hull. The copper shingles have been hand-rolled using the same craftsmanship used to shape train carriages, including hand forming of the curved sections. Dixon says, “It was a lunatic gesture from a design perspective… a tricky piece of engineering and manufacturing and a brave move for our client to take on.”
Of course, one should pick a river-facing room. The views are absolutely iconic, looking across St Paul’s Cathedral. Splash out on a River View Deluxe Room or the Balcony Suite which features a large outdoor space so you can really soak up the city, while the suite’s furnishings include Tom Dixon’s signature wingback chair. An oversized bathroom includes a free-standing bath and rainfall shower.