Claridge’s is recognised as the finest art deco hotel in London. Having started life as a magnificent private house, it was re established as a hotel and then purpose built on the current site in 1898. It quickly became a favourite of European royalty and heads of state. Much of the art deco design and features added through the 1920s and 1930s remains in place and has been enhanced over the years.
Just before the end of the 20th century an ongoing project commenced to embark on a major design restoration that would see art deco styling increasingly evidenced throughout the hotel’s’ public areas and rooms. Bespoke lighting manufacturer Dernier & Hamlyn, working with interior designer Guy Oliver (owner and principal of Oliver Laws), has been involved in much of the work bringing in various aspects of the experience and skills they have assimilated over the company’s 126 year history to recreate light fittings that are beautiful, practical, and historically accurate.
Designer Guy Oliver recently produced designs to update the hotel’s restaurant and called on Dernier & Hamlyn to use its extensive lighting archive to research appropriate styling that would be both visually stunning and complement the architectural integrity.
The lighting archive comprises thousands of drawings, photographs, patterns and products built up since the company was formed in London in 1888. It’s a fascinating insight into lighting over the years and is used to inform the manufacture, replication and repair of all sorts of lights. It even contains watercolours that were the CAD renders of their time. Beautiful to look at, they are a reminder of the painstaking way in which images had to be repeatedly drawn and redrawn until clients’ requirements were met before the advent of computers in the design process. A thorough trawl through materials from the 1930s by Dernier & Hamlyn’s Jeremy Quantrill unearthed this gorgeous pendant priced at the princely sum of £44 in 1935.
Guy Oliver was thrilled by this unique find and specified that the new pendants which this photograph inspired should be cast in solid brass, hand finished in bronze and completed with white opal glass. Additional flourishes and geometric layers were added to emphasise the styling of the period and the final flourish was the use of antique metal chains to fix it to the ceiling, which were reclaimed from a shipyard to give added authenticity.
The results are wonderful with tungsten lamps softly spreading light from inside the fitting and halogen down lighters providing practical light levels beneath.
Inspired by the newel posts spotted on the magnificent staircases at another 1930s building and architectural details in the hotel Guy Oliver also designed the pedestal lamps that sit atop the marble counters of the serving stations in the restaurant and in the cocktail bar. They feature strong, streamlined shapes, typical of this glamorous epoch including chevrons finished in polished nickel to emulate the desire for shiny materials akin to chrome a brand new material of the time.
Guy Oliver says: “My working relationship with Claridge’s goes back almost 20 years and I love the hotel and its history. I am always conscious to retain or reintroduce period details where they have been lost, or, where appropriate, introduce historically inspired additions (in a contemporary way) to preserve and enhance the character of the hotel “