Housed in one of Moscow’s most illustrious landmarks, LOBBY is the new home of an up-and-coming art consultancy designed as a cultural space complete with a concept store, events space and café. Architect Daria Belyakova, founder of Arch(e)type, an architectural and design practice with offices in Moscow, London and Paris, drew from the grandeur of the historic building to create a space of timeless elegance that both dazzles visitors and allows the periodic exhibitions of art and design to take centre stage.
Known as Gostiny Dvor, a Russian term for an indoor market or shopping centre, the expansive Neoclassical building is an 18th century reconstruction of an earlier medieval complex that now serves as a business and commercial hub after extensive renovations in the 1990s. Its prominent location a few steps away from Red Square, next to Zaryadye park, in conjunction with the façade’s double-height arched windows, means that LOBBY is blessed with gorgeous, verdant views peppered with steeples and towers of the nearby Varvarka church and Kremlin complex. The serendipity of such views informed Daria’s interior design which espouses an understated, soothing aesthetic of chic minimalism that enhances rather than detracts from both the views and the occasional art and design exhibits.
Embracing a free-flowing configuration, the front of the space is taken over by the café with a central bar counter and plush seating areas on either side, while a lounge and an office space on the back are connected by wide openings. Swathed in a muted palette of whites and greys, the interiors feature white-smooth barrel vaults, flowing velvety curtains and upholstery, light-toned terrazzo floors, and dreamy fluted marble wall cladding. Add in the double-height ceilings and abundant daylight streaming in from the tall street facing windows, and the result is an airy, bright sequence of spaces that lifts the spirits and soothes the soul.
While the café area is defined by the use of fluted marble, on the other hand, both the lounge, which is used for thematic meetings, and the art consultants’ office are centred on custom-designed timber furnishings. In the lounge, a floor-to-ceiling cabinet serves as a bookcase as well as a display for art albums, collectible design items and small sculptures for sale, whereas a wide desk that also functions as storage serves as the office’s centrepiece.
Brass details accentuate the muted colour palette along with the meticulous furniture selection which includes pieces by famous designers such as a deep-green, bean-shaped sofa by Swedish architect Jonas Wagel designed for Tacchini, and a white armchair by Pierre Polen, originally created in 1971 for the president of France and well-known collector, Georges Pompidou. The modernist, avant-garde aesthetic of such pieces is reflected in the collection of bespoke items designed specifically for the project by Arch(e)type and manufactured by Archipélago. Ranging from terracotta-coloured and golden-hued chairs, to slender black round tables and minimalist black ottomans, the bespoke items combine classical grace with a modernist ethos. Daria’s attention to detail forms the overall sensibility, from the treatment of the building fabric, to the minutiae of the furniture’s design and that is exactly what makes LOBBY such a delight to visit again and again.