Friday, December 7, 2007

Members Only

I had a fun evening at Soho House recently and although it looked like they might have relaxed the membership standards just a bit, I was surprised at how great the place still looks after four years. The interiors created by Ilse Crawford are modern and elegant and yet at the same time have that relaxed European feel. I have to come to think of that as her trademark and a style that I have loved since profiling her work for the Grand Hotel restaurant in Stockholm recently.


Crawford retained much of the building's original brick walls and timber beams. "Without those great bones, it would have been impossible to create the mix of amazing modern furniture and amazing vintage pieces." She also explained that her design was predominantly driven by an emotional reading of the Soho House clientele. "It's a happy, sexy place. You can have fun—but also do quite serious business."

The hotel rooms feel more like lofts than the usual hotel accommodations. Crawford created studies in contrast, energetic juxtapositions of ornate oversize French marriage beds, vintage armoires, modernist sofas by Piero Lissoni, and freestanding concrete tubs by Boffi.

In the library, Warren Platner's wire-frame seating and a velvet-upholstered sofa meet a floor lamp resembling an overblown desk lamp. The lamp's origins weren't given but you can find similar floor lamps from Design Within Reach and more reasonably priced at White on White.

In the Cinema Bar or White Room is just that. White. And modern with zebra skin rugs and white Moroccan poufs and also glamorous with it's mirrored bar.

The sixth floor displays a distinctively laid back edge. The restaurant boasts salvaged pine flooring, a new pressed-tin ceiling, and crystal chandeliers. Crawford likens the mix to wearing jeans and a T-shirt with a knockout pair of shoes. "It's boring to wear entirely fabulous things," she maintains. "I prefer to see the personality, not the decoration." The chesterfield sofas are also reminiscent of those she used in the Grand Hotel restaurant.

Crawford purposely waited to finish off the interiors with flea market purchases. On the rough painted brick wallsin the Drawing Room, she spontaneously decided to leave test patches of colors ranging from peacock and teal to petrol blue-green. "In my experience as a magazine editor," she says, "I learned that you need to combine the planned and the unplanned." The plastic armchairs are 1960's Italian.

The Library's cheeky custom wallpaper by Deborah Bowness serves as a backdrop for a Swan chair by Arne Jacobsen, twin armchairs by Jeffrey Bernett, and a conical chair from a New York flea market.

A Playhouse room's leather-covered chesterfield backs onto a stenciled wall above.

Aluminum chaise lounges line the teak decking of a rooftop pool area that made famous in an episode of Sex and the City. The roof also has fantastic views of the West Village and the Hudson River. Membership certainly has it's privileges!

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