Looking Back: The Heritage
In the late 70s, as part of the rejuvenation of the South Bank area, a building known as the Sea Containers House was erected in the brutalist architectural style that was popular at the time. It was designed by Warren Platner, well-known in design circles for his preference for the naval style, and for designing the interior of the Windows of the World restaurant on top of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Although intended as a hotel, the building didn’t open as one. Instead, it was taken over by Sea Containers, one of the world’s largest shipping companies. When Tom Dixon redesigned the building as Mondrian London, he took its original features into careful consideration: being particularly sure to keep its sea-faring heritage alive.
Looking In: The Décor
This nod to the building’s past is evident looking at the design concept for the hotel, Mondrian London. The original Sea Containers reception desk, for instance, still stands as the hotel’s spa reception; and the shipping models that decorate the public spaces are from the archives of the previous owners. Dixon has also taken inspiration from Platner’s original design, with Platner chairs and tables featuring in some of the more luxurious suites within the hotel.
The hotel experience is offered as a maritime journey. When guests arrive, they are immediately struck by the enormous, 68-metre-long copper hull sticking through the front of the building (which took over a year to construct with marine ply). Once they enter their bedrooms or suites, the panelling and curved walls are intended to make the rooms feel like cabins from glamorous cruise liners of a bygone era. The experience culminates with the rooftop lounge, reflective of a boat’s top deck, from which guests can survey their cultural surroundings.
Looking Out: The Cultural Links
While its alignment with the cultural neighbourhood begins with the gallery-style lobby, Mondrian London offers guests a creative experience beyond its doors, through thoughtful collaborations with the artistic institutions at its doorstep. Fresh from a partnership with The London Design Festival in September, it is now looking ahead to the EY Exhibition – The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern this autumn. Tom Dixon has designed Pop Art-inspired window displays at the main entrance, and the hotel offers short-stay packages to design-enthusiasts who have come to London with the intention of visiting the exhibit at Tate Modern.
Looking Ahead: The Future
With ample design credentials from the offset, Mondrian London is using its artistic status to confidently secure its spot as London’s go-to destination for creative visitors. If its first year (or so) on London’s competitive hotel scene is anything to go by, this hotel is well on its way to becoming an icon on the South Bank.
Mondrian London, 20 Upper Ground, London, UK +44 203 747 1000