With 359 rooms, the dazzling Mondrian London at Sea Containers by Tom Dixon with Design Research Studio is the designer’s largest project by far.
American architect Warren Platner is probably best remembered for the extraordinary wire furniture he developed for Knoll, first introduced in 1966. However, he also created the Georg Jensen Design Centre and the Windows on the World restaurant in the World Trade Centre in New York. In London, meanwhile, he designed Sea Container House. Sitting adjacent to the iconic Oxo Tower on one side, Blackfriars Bridge on another and with the Thames directly outside its door, it was originally conceived as a hotel but opened as an office development in the mid-eighties.
Now the building has been completely refurbished. It still contains offices – for the likes of design company BDG and communications agency Ogilvy & Mather – but at its heart is a new Mondrian hotel by Morgans Hotel Group. The first Mondrian branded hotel outside of the United States, Mondrian London at Sea Containers is designed by Design Research Studio, under the creative direction of Tom Dixon. The site includes 359 guest rooms and suites, a pair of bars, a restaurant with private dining rooms, a spa and 56-seat cinema. Importantly, too, it also represents a step change in Dixon’s career – the designer has done projects such as Shoreditch House in the past but nothing on this scale.
Embracing the building’s heritage, the interior has a distinctly nautical feel – there are models of ocean liners in the riverside lounge and restaurant areas for instance, alongside an eclectic collection of Dixon’s furniture. Arguably, though, the most eye-catching element is a vast copper-clad ribbon (Dixon compares it to the hull of a ship) that starts just outside the main entrance and curves through to create the reception desk, before swooping around and ending as the entrance to the restaurant’s toilets. The WCs themselves feature porthole mirrors and detailing usually found on a boat.
In fact the entire 1500-m2 ground floor has a contemporary Deco feel, thanks in no small part to the vast amount of brass Dixon has elected to use. The dazzle of the brass is just a warm up for the dazzle of the lights of the city as seen from the Mondrian’s cocktail bar Dandelyan and rooftop bar Rumpus Room, both of which offer sweeping views across the Thames framed by Waterloo Bridge to the west and Blackfriars Bridge to the east. Combined with restaurant venue Sea Containers and a cinema with weekend screenings programmed by Curzon, the hotel looks set to continue the evolution of what is becoming an increasingly in-demand part of the city.
Photos Niall Clutton