Rose Murray, Founder, These White Walls, reflects on the beauty and depth wall coverings have created within her luxury hospitality projects at HIDE and The Ledbury.
Requests for feature wall coverings is one I receive a lot, and one that has had a bad rap from times past when designers would pick an accent colour or apply a novel panel of wallpaper and call it a day. Feature walls or indeed elegant wall coverings can add depth and stimulus to a space, making a confident yet subtle design statement.
The botanical plaster art wall that we designed as the backdrop to the Hide & Seek rooms at HIDE has seen endless coverage and is much loved precisely because of the beauty and depth it adds to the space. This is Art of course, integrated at an architectural scale, and is one bespoke element of the many organically-inspired wall treatments we applied throughout the wider restaurant. On Ground, chunky natural cork panels added an organic acoustic lining to the columns, and in the Basement Kintsugi dining room we lined the whole space in cracked gesso wallpaper as an ode to the wabi-sabi concept that inspired the scheme.
Organic wallpapers are definitely a favourite of mine, and these range from pressed linens to birch bark and seagrasses, all of which can add a timeless textural layer that will contrast wonderfully with well balanced modern accessories that will also keep the look contemporary.
For The Ledbury we transformed a rather blank wall of silver mirrors that had at one time served to extend the dining space into an unexpected talking point: we redesigned the wall to be lined with large mycelium panels — a fibrous mushroom material, that would otherwise be used as packaging or an acoustic construction material. The chef, Brett Graham, being a funghi enthusiast loved the idea of using them to line the dining space and asked me to come up with an elegant design that would make the strange material more palatable for diners.
I decided to frame them with solid brass angles and line with an antiqued bronze mirrors that mimicked the wonderful patina on the soft surface of the organic matter. The wall was then decorated with wall lights that were again grown from mycelium into bowl-like vessels that we added tungsten-type LEDs to, to show the versatility and beauty of this materials that would usually be left for back of house. Diners often initially mistake it for stone, or some sort of bark, and they are surprised to uncover its real origins. Thankfully it hasn’t put anyone off their dinner yet!