Interview

Alice Lund

Since opening last April, The Ned has been crowned Europe’s best hotel. Soho House designer Alice Lund speaks to Magali Robathan about working on a unique project


The story of the Ned began in 2012, when Soho House owner Nick Jones visited the Grade I listed former Midland Bank building in the City of London. “The property had been empty for nearly eight years but there was something about it – the details and scale of it – that just floored me,” says Jones.

The building, which was designed by architect Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens in 1924, still retained many of its original features, including a huge circular door leading into what was the main vault of the bank.

Determined to use the building to create a new club, Jones and Soho House’s chairman and investor Ron Burkle teamed up with Andrew Zobler, CEO of New York’s Sydell hotel Group.

Soho House designer Alice Lund co-led the project together with architecture practice EPR, transforming the Grade I listed building into a venue with 250 bedrooms, 10 restaurants and a member’s club.

Facilities include a rooftop space with a heated pool and outdoor terraces, a gym and Ned’s Club Spa, built around a 20m pool with Cowshed treatment rooms, a barbershop and beauty parlour.

Here designer Alice Lund talks us through the project:

What was your aim with this project?
We wanted The Ned to be a bit of a fantasy, a refuge from modern life.

What was your inspiration?
Our starting point for The Ned’s interiors was the glamour of a 1930s transatlantic ocean liner. We trawled the Midland Bank’s archives to find out what the building looked like in its heyday in the 1930s.

How would you sum up the design?
Faded 1930s-era glamour. We were inspired by the great ships of that time, including the Normandie, as well as by the Orient Express.

When did you first visit the building? Can you remember your initial reaction to it?
I first visited in June 2014, and was completely blown away by the scale and grandeur of the space. It felt very special to be able to roam around the building alone, as the property was vacant at the time, aside from the two lovely security guards who’d been working there since it was Midlands Bank. We spent hours pouring over the exquisite craftsmanship, materials and detailing on all the floors – it was incredibly inspiring.

What state was the building and its original features in?
We were lucky to get the building in good nick actually. HSBC had taken great care of it. The building’s Grade I-listed status provided challenges, particularly when it came to the ground floor. The bustle of the old bank’s reception area has been preserved – now, more than 850 people can eat on the ground floor.

Did you feel a sense of responsibility to the building?
Of course. We wanted the restoration to be as respectful as possible and to retain its character. We were always very mindful. We’ve taken lots of existing motifs from the building and re-worked them to create a cohesion between the old and new.

What was the most difficult part of the project?
When Edwin Lutyens designed the bank, he installed 92 green verdite marble columns and hundreds of walnut panelled counters for the bank tellers. The whole lot was protected by the listing, and we had to work out how to fit eight restaurants and bars into the space.

What was the most exciting part of the project?
Seeing the designs take shape was really exciting; spaces like Millie’s Bar with its rounded corners, and the infinity pool on the roof. We had been looking at the visuals for so long – to see them finally realised often felt wonderfully surreal! And finally, the opening night was dazzling – going from a building site to a fully occupied hotel felt incredible.

What’s your favourite part of the club?
My favourite part of the building is the original bank vault, which is housed in the belly of the building. It is dominated by the bank’s original stainless steel safety deposit boxes and its dramatic two-metre-wide door remains a key feature.

The vault once stored gold bullion deposits of £335m – around £15bn in today’s money. We balanced out the severe geometry of the space by creating a plush club area that is used by members day and night.

How do you want the interiors to make people feel?
We want people to feel transported back to that time but also to feel really comfortable there.
By being true to the era (without creating a pastiche) we’re set apart from other more contemporary hotel refurbishment projects. I hope our guests enjoy that.

What are you working on now?
I have just completed a new members area at The Ned – it looks great and I think makes great use of the spaces.

I’m also currently designing Soho House Hong Kong – a really fun challenge as the building is a modern skyscraper so a real departure from The Ned aesthetic!

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: Painting With Light
Painting with Light is a team of professional lighting and multimedia experts who design and produce visual experiences that dazzle & shine.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Thomas Christoffersen: From BIG intern to BIG partner - Thomas Christoffersen's journey
Thomas Christoffersen
"We were rooted in the traditions of Danish design, but inspired by what was happening elsewhere."

On the journey from being Bjarke Ingels' first intern to BIG partner

Fundraising calendar
"The inspiration for the design comes from the green rolling hills of Rwanda and the trace of a bouncing cricket ball - Michael Ramage"

The people creating a pioneering cricket stadium that’s helping to heal wounds in Rwanda

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Greenery has a cleansing effect on the mind, says Pearson
"It’s a public space that’s managed very beautifully and has a strong message of sustainability"

It’s a huge source of sadness that the Garden Bridge became as political as it did, says the project’s landscape designer

Self portrait by Eric de Broches des Combes
Eric de Broches des Combes founded Luxigon in 2006
"A drawing is the most genuine form of architecture"

Eric de Broches des Combes on the unexpected challenges of creating architectural visualisations

Nanshufang reading pavilion is the cultural centre of Amanyangyun, where guests can explore Chinese art forms and books
"This carefully choreographed interplay of room and courtyard extends through all scales of the masterplan"

The desire to save a threatened forest and historic buildings in China led to a truly unique resort, We speak to the people that made it happen

features
David Polzin is executive director of design at CannonDesign. He studied at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture
"We were able to create an ‘acoustic shadow’ cutting decibel levels nearly in half"

How to design the perfect community leisure centre 100 13th century pilgrimage The Vietnamese village being created using historic methods

cladkit product news
Mather & Co and ITV unite to create Coronation Street Experience
Mather & Co has transformed the visitor centre into the ultimate haven for ardent Coronation Street viewers
Magali Robathan
Experience designers, Mather & Co, have orchestrated a remarkable collaboration with ITV to unveil the new Coronation Street Experience, a ...
Eco Resort Network conference to convene in Mauritius this May
The event will be hosted in the Mauritius in 2024
Megan Whitby
Hospitality industry event Eco Resort Network is set to take place at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Turtle Bay, Mauritius, from ...
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
cladkit product news
Alberto Apostoli designs tech-forward Wellness Therapy furniture collection for Varaschin
The furniture collection draws on absolute geometries, pure lines, neutral colours and strong references to nature
Megan Whitby
Furniture manufacturer Varaschin has unveiled the new Wellness Therapy range, designed by Italian spa and wellness architect and designer Alberto ...
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Codelocks develops new glass door smart lock
The new lock model allows facilities and building managers to create and manage access via an app or online portal
Megan Whitby
Codelocks has launched its first glass door smart lock to bring intelligent access control to modern spa, leisure, fitness and ...
cladkit product news
Siminetti unveils iridescent decorative panelling range inspired by plants
The Clematis design
Megan Whitby
The Botanicals is Siminetti’s newest Mother of Pearl decorative panelling collection, inspired by the distinctive patterns found in botany and ...
CSI Design Expo Americas 2024 announces new Attractions & Entertainment Technology Zone
The event will allow buyers and suppliers to meet
Magali Robathan
Cruise Ship Interiors (CSI) invites cruise lines, shipyards, design studios, outfitters, and suppliers to take part in CSI Design Expo ...
Koto Design introduces wood-fired hot tub
Koto is known for crafting modular, energy-neutral cabins and homes
Katie Barnes
A striking wood-fired hot tub has been unveiled by Koto, an architecture and design studio which has a passion for ...