With the reopening of KETTNER’s one of London’s most precious & nostalgic hang out / lounge, old world prime spots, Ilse Crawford has shown us that a body of excellence is required along with design in order to perfect the acquired ambience. This body of work is clearly accomplished with the combination of two successful companies Studioilse & Ilse Crawford Ltd.
Ilse Crawford Ltd. is a consultancy company - design thinking – which is responsible for the brand, the strategic design and what the project will stand for. Finalize this level and then move on to Studioilse - the bring to reality part - the interior architecture and product design firm. When you have such a high level of perfection and understand that there is more to a space than design and go through all the phases you get the successful outcome that we call KETNNER’s.
This space located in what was the French Quarter of London’s Soho, housed in four Georgian houses running up to five floors and accommodating spaces such us, lounge nooks, pudding bar, champagne bar, brasserie & private living was founded in 1867 by Napoleon III former chef, August Kettner and has been the gem of many centuries and a secret passageway in the basement running to the Palace Theatre. It was the rendez vous point for majestic and bohemian celebrities such as Oscar Wilde, King Edward VII and mistress Lillie Langtry, Agatha Christie and Bing Crosby. Reminiscent of these figures suave, elegance, scandal, drama and aristocracy the successful revamp took place.
The ambience has an elite French language which makes you feel that you are in a Pâtisserie at first glance. Then moving along the pathways and looking at the cornered sofas, feeling the velvet drapery and smelling the combination of strawberries and puddings you get the frazzle dazzle in your senses and know that you are part of something unique.
Firstly upon arrival you notice the French retro aesthetic which is present through the mosaic monogram on the floor, typical of French brasseries. The brasserie is in a beautiful classical space with a warm wooden floor consisting of glorious details such as table lamps on the marble island tables and aristocratic candlesticks with the comfortable padded velvet sofas. The identity of this interior is strongly apparent and we can easily visualize a typical French bohemian Lady with a beret on her head seating on the couch sipping champagne and smoking a cigarette with her cigarette holder. The achievment of this strong identity is that we want to be apart of this picture and this lifestyle.
The Kettner’s mosaic monogram on the entrance's floor //
A day at KETTNER’s would be glorious. It would commence with Breakfast at the brasserie followed by deserts at the Pudding Bar. A bar that looks like it has just come out of Alice in Wonderland. The detail of the subtle different sweet colored leather upholstery on the chairs together with the uniforms jolie of all staff is an example of the perfect merging of all concepts when we say the word branding.
Not wanting to forget the delightful sweet taste of the Pudding Bar we would then proceed to the champagne bar to select from a wide range of brands assorted by strawberries. All this in a more sexy masculine space containing a wooden bar with a gold mirrored surface top and a mosaic floor to counter balance the seriousness of it all. This interior is decorated with free standing viewing cabinets and mirrors on the walls giving the essence of a bar in a residence. A design that makes you relax and enjoy the company and alcohol.
Following the happy buzz from the champagne and the care freeness of being yourself we would then move to a bookable nook for a private conversation of gossip and scandal always followed by laughter and alcohol. These nooks invite scandal just by their heavy curtain shaped drapery and the warm and comfortable velvet padded upholstery. It is almost a reason on its own for going to KETTNER’s. This experience makes you liberate your hidden character as you are in a space within a space solely you and the rest of the world a fabric away.
After the personal nook we would proceed to one of the private hire rooms for a private dinner amongst friends. Whether it is the Attic Den or the Cabinet Particular or the Salle de Fette or the studio all these spaces are all designed to have the ambience of a residential feeling. Through the warm wall painted colors, the furniture and the lighting you perceive the space as welcoming and relaxed. The structural elements have remained neutral and the atmospheric feel is brought forward. All rooms are boutique/ unique, each different from one another but all have the same language. Some of these private hire spaces have also been designed to act as conference spaces, giving you the feeling of having a meeting at home and then going downstairs for lunch.
Following dinner we would move along to the Attic Bar for drinking and dancing and the night will end in the apartment.
THE APARTMENT is a private hire space and our favorite part of it. It is a residential heaven re-introducing the original concept of the wooden wall paneling, which was of a prime importance to the Kettner design along with the decorative geometric ceiling. Once more an open space with private corners to lounge, play chess, discuss and have cocktails. All individual furniture of each corner is different to each other creating this custom residential feel. Nothing is large and grand. Even the bar itself is just of exposed bottles and glasses on a mirrored back. The light pendants throughout are extremely discreet and simplistic letting you admire the ceiling.
“What’s Kettners, anyway?” queried Mrs Tota: and I told her of the snug little restaurant buried away in Church st, which was first discovered by two well-known journalists, a restaurant of such individuality that when is was necessary to rebuild is a few years ago it was rebuilt as nearly as possible on the old lines, with its three or four pubic dining rooms below, and its network of passages and warren of little rooms above.
Diners and Dinners, by Lieutenant-Colonel Newnham-Davis, 1899
All in all it was a fantastically glamorous and glorious day at KETTNER's.