Trendy bars and restaurants are usually the mainstay of small groups waiting for their big break into larger, built projects. Not so for Jestico & Whiles, the architect of contemporary Italian restaurant Innecto and Chinese eaterie Hakkasan. In fact, Tom Jestico and John Whiles started out in 1976 designing industrial and commercial buildings, but the group has diversified, with a particular bias towards the hotel and leisure markets. Because of this, an interior design team of 12, headed by Sniez Torbarina and James Dilley, has built up within the group.
‘For us, the aesthetic is not about following a trend, it’s part of the group’s culture,’ Torbarina says. ‘Simple details can help to develop a brand, and though this is not a part of our expertise, involving us helps bring about a more cohesive result.’ By offering clients an independent interior design team with an architectural backbone, she believes the group’s strength is the ability to look at both the micro and macro. Inevitably, it prefers a ‘complete’ appointment, including shell and interior fit-out. However, as with Hakkasan, the team has shown it can work in collaboration with an interior designer – in this case, Christian Liaigre.
As well as working with individuals (it is responsible for boutique hotels The Hempel and One Aldwych), the group is also getting involved with larger operators, planning hotels in London and Manchester for the Hilton group, and designing a new Intercontinental in Warsaw, which is due to complete next year. The group has fostered a successful working relationship with the rapidly expanding hotel chain Malmaison, and is now refurbishing Malmaison Glasgow and completing a new addition in Edinburgh, which opens in July, plus another in Birmingham due to open in September. It is also working on concepts for a Malmaison planned in Oxford and others in Belgium and Germany.
Operating from a satellite office in the Czech Republic, the group is currently putting the finishing touches to a new 350-room design-led hotel in Prague, where it is also designing a multiplex cinema. Having cut their teeth on small-scale screening rooms – for Polygram and at One Aldwych – the group has gone on to design cinemas internationally. This year it has seven multiplexes planned across India and a major new Bollywood multiplex in Mumbai.
The London office is buzzing with an eclectic range of schemes to come, including concepts for a resort hotel in the UK and, currently awaiting planning approval, a new Police Museum housed in a contemporary extension to the old magistrates building in Bow Street, London.