There are parties and there’s the not so laboured or conservative but very liberal London launch of Luxury Living an equidistant plumped up embossed cushion’s throw from Harrods and Harvey Nics and Hyde Park and Harriet Walk and heaven. It’s the local shop for One Hyde Park. Being Knightsbridge that means a treasure filled palazzo. Limos stretching, (thick pile country pile) scarlet carpet calling, ropes a riposte to the common people segretating, champers flowing, rich doors opening, (the world’s your) oysters on tap. What’s not to adore? You know you’ve landed when even the bidet is solid gold. The World of Interiors and their partner are here. It’s our first party where there are nearly as many bodyguards as guests. Nope, that’s not a fake Van Dyck. Yon butterfly thing, yep it’s a Damo Hirst. The old and new masters are courtesy of Milanese galleristJerome Zodo. “I’m opening my first gallery in London,” he tells Lavender’s Blue, “on Dering Street off the top of New Bond Street.” Luxury Living is lined wall to wall with models and that’s just the waiters and marble busts. Founder Alberto Vignatelli enthuses, “We are delighted to open our new store in an area of London synonymous with luxury living. London’s concentration of wealth and power and international audiences with impeccable taste in interiors makes it the perfect city to start Luxury Living’s next chapter.” It’s really not a dog’s life but if Rover is a discerning fan of Top Gear, the Bentley pet bed is a must at £3,960 a puppop. Luxury Living proves Italians really are more stylish.
Organiser Andrew Scutts welcomes everyone to “a party for VIPs, the beautiful and the good.” And those who are all three, presumably. “We’ve gathered 13 of London’s top bars under one roof to save on taxis between venues. Sustainable or what? Each bar has been tasked to showcase a signature cocktail. You’ll be given a few minutes to watch the bartenders work their magic. But when DJ Crazy P stops the music you must drink the cocktail and run to grab chairs in the next room for another cocktail.” And so begins a game of speed dating meets musical chairs meets Cluedo. The billiard room, dining room, library… every room’s a flawless speakeasy tonight.
Bastion of British good taste and good fun, the absolutely fabulous Harvey Nic’s Champagne Bar tempts us with a Lady Marmalade cocktail. We really should make a pun on a toast to toast but it’s getting late. The Alchemist mixologist concocts a literally smokin’ drink while Trailer Happiness drops Earl Grey into Lamb’s Navy Rum blasting the best of British theme. Hot in the city, the night is aglow, the air a thick warm blanket. Embracing the moment we’re in high spirits. Absinthe (mixed with bootlegger, egg white, grenadine and lemon juice by Steam and Rye) makes the heart grow fonder.
There are the golden postcodes of Belgravia, Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge and Mayfair. Then there is the platinum Knightsbridge address of Basil Street, sandwiched between Harrods and Harvey Nics. Bronze torches light the winter’s night. Silver railings cordon off a red carpet. Welcome to The Lansbury. Beware, the bling ends at the front door (except perhaps for beetroot macaroons at the launch party).
Developer Finchatton’s latest offering is a slender sliver of a corner apartment block rising six (visible) storeys. Walls hewn from sandstone form a deeply incised but relatively unadorned skin. What a welcome relief (no pun) from the brick Accordia-lite which has come to dominate domestic architecture in the capital. Shallow rectangular projecting bays provide a nod to nearby mansion blocks. The Lansbury’s architecture has a restrained permanence, the antithesis of pop up culture. It doesn’t compete for attention with its chunkier period neighbours. Period. Instead it commands material consideration (stop the puns!) through quality and subtlety.
“Our style is very considered,” says Andrew Dunn, one half of Finchatton’s founders. “It’s not blingy and bright and flashy. The Lansbury embodies our core values: utmost quality and attention to detail, contemporary design with reference to heritage and longevity, and exceptional servicing.” Co founder Alex Michelin adds, “Everything’s custom made and bespoke. We designed every single piece.” As it turns out, even the napkins.
The look is art deco influenced. The ethic is arts and crafts inspired. The art is intrinsic to the whole. “It’s a slightly different organic sensibility,” says Jiin Kim-Inoue, Finchatton’s Head of Design. “Harmonious, inviting, an almost lived in look… The rooms shouldn’t be loud, not with such an incredible view.” Across the road, golden illuminated letters shout “Harrods!” “We’ve used fibres such as wool, cashmere and horsehair, combining them with metals and other natural materials to create cleverly textured surroundings. Walnut and polished sycamore work with bronze, brass and steel. Nero Argento marble and crystal sit alongside buffalo horn and shagreen.”
Monochromatic Mondrianic mirror mouldings, television surrounds and bookcases complemented by infusions of jewel tones: amethyst, garnet, sapphire. Book matched black marble bathrooms and vein matched white marble bathrooms. Herringbone, hessian, pinstripe, check. Check. Soft calf leather banister rails sewn on site. Stingray leather covered desks. The haves and the have lots are demanding.
The upper level of the 280 square metre duplex penthouse opens onto a roof terrace, an airy eyrie. Seating is arranged round a glass floor which doubles as the kitchen ceiling below. Spying on the chef has never been so easy. Later in the evening, a purchaser will pay a cool £1 million over the asking price for the penthouse. The communal elevator descends past three 170 square metre lateral apartments and a 130 square metre duplex apartment before reaching the ground floor triplex. This apartment dramatically drops two storeys below ground. Only in London would subterranean living be a high. One lower ground floor bedroom overlooks a three storey void; the other, a living wall in a light well. A cinema, gym and temperature controlled wine cellar – must haves – occupy the lowest level.
The Lansbury is timeless yet capable of registering the passage of time. The concise correlation between outer order and inner sanctum is a deeply felt subliminal recognition. Finchatton establishes a layered yet cohesive language through an association of material and space, a sense of balance, an understanding of the uplifting effects that space and light have on the human spirit.
As John Bennett wrote, “Wherever men have lived and moved and their being, hoped, feared, succeeded, failed, loved, laughed, been happy, lost, mourned, died, were beloved or detested, there remains forever a something, intangible and tenuous as thought, a sentience very like a soul, which abides forever in the speechless walls.”