Harry McKinley • April 8, 2020
The Connaught in London doesn’t shy away from reinvention. Indeed, it’s perhaps a willingness to refresh, redesign, and even innovate that sees the property consistently rank among the city’s most illustrious and most relevant, while equally being one its most historic—with a heritage dating back to the 1800s.
To mark a decade since the opening of its lauded restaurant, Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, French designer Pierre Yovanovitch was drafted to bring a fresh vision to the space, supplanting its tasteful but staid interiors with something more contemporary.
Taking two months, the refurbishment is more than a superficial overhaul, weaving a tale of craft and provenance that connects the broader design with Darroze’s approach as a chef.
“For this project, I let her menu and personality be the guiding vision,” says Yovanovitch. “I wanted to reflect her elegance and strong character, as well as her support for artisanal suppliers.”
Much of the interior architecture has been left unaltered, save for a few aesthetic tweaks. The imposing wood paneling, for example, was lightened to better complement the graduated blush color palette now seen on window frames and cornicing.
“But just as Hélène celebrates her suppliers and their work, and orchestrates their coming together,” continues Yovanovitch, “we did the same by making everything in the restaurant with craftspeople both in the UK and around Europe, in some cases bringing them together to work on the same piece.”
These leading makers include ceramicist Armelle Benoit, who contributed to the bespoke tables and waiter stations, and glassblower Matteo Gonet, who devised the chandelier, with its dramatic royal blue tendrils of painted wrought iron and teardrop bulbs. The plush carpet—all in rich tan, but amply textured and tassel-edged—is from Manufacture de Bourgogne, a French favorite of luxury hotels and spas.
A new addition is the Chef’s Table, where Yovanovitch combined oak wood paneling with a specially commissioned ceiling fresco by artist Rochegaussen. A pink marble table with patinated metal base sits atop grey terrazzo tiling.
For Yovanovitch, it is ultimately the eclecticism and art of creative collaboration that is most defining of the project: “It is where I try to achieve the warmth, comfort and sense of interest in the space; through the artist’s hand. The same can be said of Hélène with her food.”
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