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Tailoring, refining, and designing interiors for residences that suit the location and heritage is Martin Kemp’s forte. The internationally renowned designer discusses his project Clarges Mayfair - 34 supreme residences in the heart of London’s Mayfair district.

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“Our stylistic inspirations came from fashion, industry, style, geography and location. This manifest itself in the design and attention to detail, from the entrance doors through to the tight-knit upholstery, and rich luxurious fabrics and detailing in the carpet. Welcoming the neighbourhood back into the building, we have designed a series of art deco lift doors using embossed metals, depicting a map of Mayfair. The result is as intricate as a tailored textile, informed by the traditions of the area.”
– Martin Kemp

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What was your design inspiration for Clarges Mayfair?

Pinpointing only one thing is difficult as so many factors were at play. On the one hand, British Land came to us with ideas; on the other, the location of the building and the architect’s design inspired us. We drew a lot from this heritage area as well: Mayfair is a prime centre for expert manufacturing, watchmaking, and tailoring. Then we thought we would endear the project with something a little more British. We would give it more character than other developments: sometimes they can be homogenous, miss a sense of place. We wanted to create distinct interiors for Clarges Mayfair that only belonged to the building. If one looks at the building around, many inspirations can be drawn from the Edwardian period, but also from the Art Deco era. Our stylistic inspirations came from fashion, industry, style, geography, and location.

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How has Mayfair and Green Park influence the design?

We have embellished the interiors with subtle details for example, the building, the gates and the private balconies’ wroughtiron work were inspired from the trees in Green Park. I didn’t want such a theme to influence the interior because, unlike hotels, we didn’t need a theme. I wanted to inform the design with Mayfair attributes: the lift doors, for example, welcome the neighbourhood back into the building. I first noticed wonderfully detailed Art Deco doors in California and thought we could use the same technique of embossing metal and use a map of Mayfair as the main pattern. We stretched it a little and made it more abstract and started adding thread work in between the streets. The result is as intricate as a tailored textile; it informs the tailoring traditions of Mayfair. This pattern will further be used on the doors that open onto the business suites, and the concierge desk in the Grand Hall. Again, the tufted carpet welcomes a ribbon pattern as if a tailor has dropped a spool of ribbon on the floor. We wove the idea into the carpet, thus bringing the industry and the trade within Clarges Mayfair.

How have you refined the interior palette selections for the apartments?

We decided that we needed to have two palettes – a warm and a cool one - to address a diverse and demanding audience. We also wanted to cater for different personalities. On the one hand, there is a richer and more opulent palette that will be best applied to more traditional and conventional tastes; on the other hand, the cool palette is a lot fresher and modern with brighter, crisper, whiter elements. To that we added various palettes of marbles that complement each other. We also paid a great attention to detail when refining the offer: for example, there is a bevelled detail in the bathroom marble walls. Visually, one has the impression that the bevelled marble has been sculpted to create a dado rail. Refinement for us was about finding the right traditional gestures that we could twist to infuse a modern aesthetic.

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What makes Clarges Mayfair stand above the competition?

Location, for sure: it’s Mayfair. More, Clarges Mayfair is the first prime residential development of its kind in Mayfair for a few decades. The simple fact that it is exists is a first, for a long time. The level of dedication that was given to every segment, savoir-faire and person involved with the design is unparalleled. British Land simply curated a team of experts and professionals, which they considered and respected. They also have a constant eye for detail and way of challenging the design. In so daring, one always creates more discerning interiors. In the process, British Land’s approach was always humble, quiet, healthy and, in the end, aspirational. Together we imbued the project with Britishness, invented a distinct, subtle personality. This Mayfair development stylistically informs all the eras that shaped the neighbourhood: Edwardian, industrial, Art Deco.

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How important is quality and craftsmanship to the personality of the building?

Extremely important! We are judged by the quality of our work and the client can only command such standards by requiring the highest level of quality. For Clarges Mayfair, we worked with the best specialists and craftsmen - plasterers, decorators, bespoke joiners – to design custom marble with metal inlay, hand woven carpets in wool and silk, upholstered walling, bespoke furniture and self-standing light fixtures. Sometimes, the metal work was even executed by a jeweller; art works like the large glass sculptor and light installations were also hand carved and hand-mounted. Down to the quality of the fabrics and marbles, we sourced a unique, detailed offer: black onyx and Nettuno marbles, Tanganika timber or dark stained oak, nickel polished ironmongery or nickel trim floor detail. 

What is your favourite design element and why?

We wanted to give the level below ground a sense of place and create an English spa. So, we researched British spa towns like Bath, Harrogate and Cheltenham and how the Victorian- Edwardian periods influenced tiling. Before that, the first sketches we drew were proper and clean but I couldn’t feel any passion not excitement. Then the blue tiles came to mind and this unexpected Britishness I was looking for became the key to designing the spa. We looked for dreamy images and patterns from that era and started printing them on our own bespoke tiles. We fluted the columns inside the spa and added unique architectural details. By revisiting traditional methods in a contemporary way, we coined the Englishness we had been longing for!

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