Skylon, the latest venture from D&D London, formerly Conran Restaurants, is set to open next month on the third floor of London’s newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall.
The new restaurant/bar takes its name from the metal centrepiece of the 1951 Festival of Britain.
At the forefront of the design concept – by Conran & Partners – was a clear connection to the building’s 1950s origins, but with a contemporary twist.
‘It was all about continuing the line of design thought from the 1950s and connecting it to the modern day,’ says Tina Norden, who is heading the project for Conran.
Norden worked closely with architect Allies and Morrison to match the restaurant’s colour palette to original paint scrap-ings taken from the RFH. ‘The deep red colour from the original building is reinstated in accent walls at the back of the restaurant,’ says Norden, ‘and even the pale olive carpets have a distinctly authentic 1950s flavour.’
Five bespoke bronze chandeliers hang from the ceilings, taking their shape from the ‘net and ball’ carpet design found throughout the building. Other references to the Festival of Britain can be found in the walnut timber of the floors and window sills, the limestone bar counter and floor and the cutlery – which reprises a classic 1953 David Mellor design – on the table tops.
‘Three of the walls have been designed to look out on to the hall, so when you’re walking up the staircase, or standing in one of the mezza-nine lobbies, you can see into the restaurant,’ explains Norden. ‘It was very important for the restaurant to have its own identity, but be part of the RFH as well.’
In 1951, Skylon came to represent the optimism and energy of a new design era. When asked if the revival of the Skylon name could herald a new phase in British design, Norden agrees that architec-ture and design are very buoy-ant at the moment. ‘It’s a really- exciting time to be working as a designer in London,’ she says, ‘but whether we will be regar-ded as highly as our 1950s forefathers remains to be seen.’