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Contacts book: the specialists who helped Archer Humphryes bring Brooklands to Park Lane

Words:
David Archer and Julie Humphryes

A model of Concorde, lighting inspired by classic car lamps, a chandelier channelling turbine blades… where do you find the experts to build them? Archer Humphryes reveals all

Private dining room at Brooklands bar and restaurant, The Peninsula London hotel designed by Archer Humphryes.
Private dining room at Brooklands bar and restaurant, The Peninsula London hotel designed by Archer Humphryes. Credit: Taran Wilkhu

Tekne is a really high quality joinery and fit-out firm – these are few and far between in the UK, and are to be treasured. We met them a long time ago when we were doing two restaurants in Bournemouth (they have a factory in Poole) and have worked with them ever since on many restaurants and hotels such as the public areas at Chiltern Firehouse, Decimo at The Standard London and lots of the Busaba restaurants. Most recently we collaborated on the Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel.

What’s really good about Tekne is the way they draw, their factory, and how they put everything together. We like the way they document jobs and control the delivery process. And unlike some joinery shops, they’ve gone with the changes, and now have five-headed CNC machines and work with BIM.

  • Smoking room at Brooklands bar and restaurant, The Peninsula London hotel.
    Smoking room at Brooklands bar and restaurant, The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu
  • Bar at Brooklands bar and restaurant, The Peninsula London hotel.
    Bar at Brooklands bar and restaurant, The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu
  • Bar at Brooklands bar and restaurant, The Peninsula London hotel.
    Bar at Brooklands bar and restaurant, The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu
  • The ceiling grid of the Brooklands bar under construction at Tekne’s factory. Everything was test assembled in the factory before being taken apart and transported to the hotel for installation.
    The ceiling grid of the Brooklands bar under construction at Tekne’s factory. Everything was test assembled in the factory before being taken apart and transported to the hotel for installation. Credit: Archer Humphryes
  • The ceiling of the Brooklands bar under construction at Tekne’s factory.
    The ceiling of the Brooklands bar under construction at Tekne’s factory. Credit: Archer Humphryes
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For Brooklands, there were over 800 drawings and a BIM model – nothing was left to chance. We went down to the factory all the time they were making the joinery. They sampled everything at a 1:1 scale, including a 30m-long ceiling built in three sections and the Napier Railton entertaining room. Then they put the whole thing together in the factory as a dry run before taking it apart, labelling each piece, and transporting it to London for installation at the hotel. And they got it right.

When you put something in their hands, even when there are difficulties to overcome, you know you’re going to get what you want. It's a really good UK firm, and we were pleased to work with them. 

Discommon co-ordinated the construction of the 13.6m long model of Concorde, suspended over the Brooklands restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel.
Discommon co-ordinated the construction of the 13.6m long model of Concorde, suspended over the Brooklands restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu

Discommon

For Brooklands, we wanted to suspend a 13.6m long model of Concorde over the restaurant. With seemingly endless surfaces curving in three dimensions, seamless joints and no visible fixings, there could be no room for error. We couldn’t find any metalworkers who could make it for an affordable price.

But the client knew of Discommon, which is a design and manufacturing firm based in South Carolina, from a previous furniture project, and it was able to make it happen.

  • Detail of the Concorde model at the Brooklands restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel. Discommon acted as the interface between metalworker Neal Feay and Archer Humphryes.
    Detail of the Concorde model at the Brooklands restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel. Discommon acted as the interface between metalworker Neal Feay and Archer Humphryes. Credit: Taran Wilkhu
  • Concorde model for the Brooklands restaurant during manufacture.
    Concorde model for the Brooklands restaurant during manufacture. Credit: Archer Humphryes
  • Concorde model for the Brooklands restaurant during manufacture.
    Concorde model for the Brooklands restaurant during manufacture. Credit: Archer Humphryes
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We drew it, using a 3D scan of Concorde that we manipulated to foreshorten it before dropping it into a BIM model for them to work with. Discommon was very energetic and can-do, working almost like an interface between Californian metalworker Neal Feay and us, to create the model in 420 aluminium panels, and integrating the lighting, sprinklers and fixings very cleverly. We didn’t go out there while it was being built – instead we did the whole collaboration with them filming what they were doing so we could walk around the model that way. It took two weeks to install on site.

We think it’s beautiful – and has a real emotional punch.

Lasvit created a glass chandelier inspired by the blades of a Concorde Olympus 593 turbine engine above the Brooklands bar at The Peninsula London hotel.
Lasvit created a glass chandelier inspired by the blades of a Concorde Olympus 593 turbine engine above the Brooklands bar at The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu

Lasvit

There aren’t a lot of modern chandelier makers around. We knew all about Lasvit and had spoken to them many times, but didn’t actually work with them until the Brooklands project.

For the bar, we wanted a glass chandelier, inspired by the blades of a Concorde Olympus 593 turbine engine, and with a sense of movement, but didn’t exactly know how we could do it. We’d drawn it in plan and section - looking a bit like a corn on the cob. Then Lasvit did two very clever things to make it happen.

First, they didn’t use full blades, but instead very cleverly suspended the ends of the blades in cut glass on a wire frame. This took a huge amount of materiality out of the chandelier without losing any of the effect. In our heads the blades would actually turn, but Lasvit achieved this effect using LED lighting, so that it really looks like it is moving when the lights are switched on in the evening.

The collaboration took three years, with Lasvit sending us lots of samples.

It’s there, it works, and it’s really good.

Hand-stitched leather upholstery by Poltrona Frau at the Napier Railton Room, part of the Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel.
Hand-stitched leather upholstery by Poltrona Frau at the Napier Railton Room, part of the Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu

Poltrona Frau

Poltrona Frau is really famous for its hand-stitched leather upholstery – a lot of its business is fitting out the inside of Ferraris.

Their work is really top quality – they’re very good at bespoke leather with beautiful stitching, so were ideal to work with at Brooklands. Once they’ve designed a chair, they’re really good at making it.

  • Hand-stitched leather upholstery by Poltrona Frau at the Napier Railton Room, part of the Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel.
    Hand-stitched leather upholstery by Poltrona Frau at the Napier Railton Room, part of the Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu
  • Bespoke leather upholstery by Poltrona Frau at the Napier Railton Room, part of the Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel.
    Bespoke leather upholstery by Poltrona Frau at the Napier Railton Room, part of the Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu
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We visited their factory outside Rome and ended up doing four things with them for Brooklands, including tables inspired by classic luggage trunks in the Napier Railton Room entertaining space, and table bases for the restaurant. It was a long process, with lots of prototyping. We were originally going to do more with them, but what we did get was great.

Genius of the Lamp created wall sconces out of Torpedo sidelights at Archer Humphryes’ Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel.
Genius of the Lamp created wall sconces out of Torpedo sidelights at Archer Humphryes’ Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu

Genius of the Lamp

This vintage car lamp restoration company is based in Birmingham. When we were working on the Brooklands project at the Peninsula London, we wanted to create some automotive lighting details. Genius of the Lamp was recommended by the hotel chairman, Sir Michael Kadoorie, who has a collection of vintage cars and had used the firm before.

We went down to look at the chairman’s cars to see which lights might work well decoratively to inform the design of the bar. We ended up with three, which we asked Genius of the Lamp to adapt.

It was a long time in development. We drew the designs and they made samples and manufactured the finished products. It’s a form of historic technology transfer.

  • Genius of the Lamp repurposed Phantom rear brake lights as bar lighting at Archer Humphryes’ Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel.
    Genius of the Lamp repurposed Phantom rear brake lights as bar lighting at Archer Humphryes’ Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Taran Wilkhu
  • Drawings by Genius of the Lamp for the Phantom rear brake lights at  Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel.
    Drawings by Genius of the Lamp for the Phantom rear brake lights at Brooklands bar and restaurant at The Peninsula London hotel. Credit: Genius of the Lamp
  • Torpedo wall light at Brooklands bar and restaurant created by Genius of the Lamp.
    Torpedo wall light at Brooklands bar and restaurant created by Genius of the Lamp.
  • Genius of the Lamp created bar counter lights from Lucas P100 vintage headlamps for Brooklands bar and restaurant.
    Genius of the Lamp created bar counter lights from Lucas P100 vintage headlamps for Brooklands bar and restaurant.
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In the lift lobby, we used Lucas Torpedo sidelights as wall lights – both the fixings and the glass lens have been adapted. For the rear wall of the bar, we used two Rolls Royce Phantom rear brake lights on either side of the library area. On the actual bar counter, there are 12 swivel lights made from Lucas’s famous P100 vintage headlamps.

Genius of the Lamp hand-made everything very beautifully. If we ever need anything like that again, we know just who to go to.

David Archer and Julie Humphryes are co-founders of Archer Humphryes

As told to Pamela Buxton

 

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