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Style + Design

Mondrian Moves to London

British design guru Tom Dixon is the creative brains behind the first Mondrian hotel outside the U.S. Rachel Beard gets the lowdown on the inspiration behind this transatlantic trailblazer on London’s South Bank

See recent posts by Rachel Beard

Great British designer and furniture guru Tom Dixon creates forward-thinking pieces for stylish homes on both sides of the Atlantic. His work appears alongside Frank Lloyd Wright’s and Ron Arad’s in London’s V&A and New York’s MoMa but in his first full hotel design project, he’s gone to town on the concept of creating a “complete universe that people can live in for a night or a week.”

Modeling the property on a transatlantic liner — apt given its riverfront setting on London’s South Bank — Dixon has taken major design cues from the hotel’s former life as the Sea Containers HQ, noting that “the golden period of cruisers was a fitting departure point.” The expansive lobby showcases a hulking copper-clad structure inspired by a ship’s hull and an oversize cobalt-blue anchor chain, an homage to pop artist Claes Oldenburg.

We started thinking about the Anglo-American relationship, about the best qualities of Americana and British style, and we tried to incorporate them into a cohesive whole.

For the first Mondrian hotel to open outside the U.S., it was important for Dixon to celebrate the creative connections on both sides of the Atlantic. “I very early on spotted the link between the original architect of the building – Warren Platner, an American working in London — and the Mondrian brand, an NYC hotel landing in London. So we started thinking about the Anglo-American relationship, about the best qualities of Americana and British style, and we tried to incorporate them into a cohesive whole.” There are transatlantic touches throughout the property, from the lenticular artwork in the elevators depicting bowler-hatted Brits and U.S. astronauts to the subtle cultural word plays on the key card holders (crisps/chips, trousers/pants).

The design narrative extends from the public spaces to the 359 guestrooms (many of which overlook the Thames). Dixon wanted “the rooms to have a feeling of a cabin, with everything fitted, compact and properly thought through,” and he has managed to do so without inducing cabin fever. The rooms are large by London standards, starting at 312 square feet. Dixon’s talents primarily lie in furniture design, and the rooms feature his signature wingback chairs and striking drip-effect wall art.

The Mondrian name is synonymous with pairing high design and high-profile bars and restaurants; the London outpost’s see-and-be-seen spot is on the roof, where Dixon’s vision was for the Rumpus Room to “become the cruise liner ballroom,” with a solid brass counter and Art Deco features. The styling may evoke a glamorous voyage on the high seas, but the views of St. Paul’s cathedral and the Millennium Bridge bring you right back to London.

Life aboard the Mondrian is a constant journey across the Atlantic, but the hotel remains firmly anchored on London’s South Bank.

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