A Ward Wins
Ian Phillips -- Interior Design, 7/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Since her maverick style graced the pages of Wallpaper magazine, where she once worked as the interiors editor, designer Suzy Hoodless has not been one to play it safe. Her projects have showcased the quirky, the modern, and the mismatched. On an estate in the Highlands of Scotland, for example, Hoodless papered the bedroom wall of a guest cottage with 2,000 Victorian postcards; in another cottage on the same property, she upholstered armchairs with vintage wool army blankets. "I don't see the point in not taking risks," she says.
Creative types like the movie-, music-, and TV-producer members of a private club inside London media center The Hospital can appreciate Hoodless's bold brand of thinking.
The property reorganizes a converted hospital into recording studios on its top fifth floor; staff offices on the fourth floor; and a sound stage, screening room, and TV- and video-production areas in the basement. (A restaurant and art gallery, both open to the public, occupy the first level.) Architects Allies and Morrison handled all these spaces.
However, "to create an atmosphere that would transport the media center's clients as far from work as possible," the club needed Hoodless's unique touch, says Hospital creative director Duncan Cargill. "Her eclectic eye and ability to mix domestic and professional interiors fit best."
Given two floors to work with, Hoodless deployed a variety of recreational environments—bustling dining and drinking options on the third floor, and meeting spaces, a library, and a games room on the fifth near the recording studios. A private elevator connects these levels, bypassing the offices on four.
The livelier third floor (two bars, adjoining lounges, a restaurant, and a separate private dining room) is distinguished largely by the designer's collaborations with fine artists. The private dining room, for example, features 360-degree views of photographer Tom Mannion's blown-up image of forests outside Paris. Hoodless had the image laser-printed on canvas and applied as a wall covering. On the same level, in the Bellini bar, Julie Verhoeven embellished traditional blue paisley wallpaper with her own collage of shredded marbled paper and illustrations of butterflies, foliage, and 1940's pinups. In another "main" bar, Annie Millar painted a mural of monkeys with musical instruments on the bar die.
Take the elevator up to five and the mood is residential and calm. You can read in the library or repair to one of the formal meeting rooms, or even the martini lounge, "which can be tranquil enough for a tête-à-tête," Hoodless says.
Furniture throughout is an exuberant mix. The impression is "something cohesive but built from highly individual pieces," all of which are "classics—whether they're vintage designs from 60 years ago or launched last year in Milan," the designer says. The third-floor Bellini lounge features Geoffrey Harcourt's Cleopatra chaise longues designed in 1973, armchairs found in an English antiques shop, and Sebastian Wrong's Spun table lamps from 2003. In the library, a Philippe Starck floor lamp mingles with more antique chairs, reupholstered in a floral print by Josef Frank.
Hoodless didn't sacrifice creature comforts for escapist fantasy. "Every armchair is as comfortable as the next," she asserts. And with owner Paul Allen, Microsoft's cofounder, and founding director Dave Stewart, formerly one-half of The Eurythmics and a literal rock star, running the show, even the vintage chairs had to be fortified to withstand those "raucous weekend nights," Hoodless says.