Ember Locke | London, UK | 2023
[House of Dré +  Atelier Ochre]

Located in the city’s exclusive Kensington and Chelsea neighborhood, the aparthotel is spread across eight floors, comprising 121 apartments ranging from studios, to duplex one bedroom apartments. Complementing the lobby and common areas is food and beverage destination EVE; providing a coffee shop, bar and restaurant offering which sits amongst co-working space, a meeting room and large garden. Additional facilities also include a gym and laundry room.

Prominently situated on the historic Cromwell Road, Ember Locke sits in a neighbourhood rich with culture and is within walking distance of some of London’s most famous museums, including the Natural History Museum, the V&A, the Science Museum, and the Design Museum.

Designed in collaboration by creative and interior design studios Atelier Ochre and House of Dré, the warm, distinctive interiors and layering of casual and bohemian spaces with soft ambient tones and hues, welcome guests and provide solace from the bustle of Cromwell Road. Inspired by the late Kensington Roof Gardens and the laissez-faire flamboyance demonstrated by the iconic mid-century fashion brand Biba (born in Kensington’s bohemian fashion scene), the Art Deco design style combined with 21st century retro futurism, ensure the interiors are a nostalgia-soaked reimagining of over a decade of glamour in Kensington.

In the communal spaces, the eclectic mix of character features are punctuated with bright fabrics, crafted furniture, and fine rattan structures, while opulent planting carefully frames the view towards Ember Locke’s extensive garden. Bespoke art pieces by House of Dré adorn the walls in the guestrooms and public spaces, while a host of local and up-and-coming artist’s work have been chosen to be displayed throughout the property.

“Bringing the concept of the ephemeral intrigue that spans across Biba and Kensington Roof Gardens to life began with teasing out the evocative details within. We embraced rich textures and bold patterns to embody a reserved opulence that once ruled the cultural and fashion industry. Immersed within these overflowing environments, guests can seek the shelter of intimate nooks, be more social in the open lounge, or come upon surprising moments we added to enrich the guest’s tongue in cheek sense of discovery.” – Pauline Dellemotte,
Founder and Creative Design Director, Atelier Ochre

“Our artworks and motifs have been given the Biba treatment, with the colour palettes used responding to that of the interiors created by Atelier Ochre. The chosen pieces reflect the boudoir-meets-Modernist-and-Art-Deco style of the decor and in turn changes the context and meaning of the artwork.” – Andreas Christodoulou,
Creative Director, House of Dré

The project benefits from extensive gardens to the rear. The client’s brief was to blur the transition between the garden and the hotel interior and this has been realised through careful selection of materials in the adjacent space, a maximalist approach to planting and precisely planned FF&E that deliberately focuses on the boundary between inside and out.

As much of the existing building has been retained as possible, lending the project a complex and layered temporality. The temporal ambiguity is played up through the addition of period features in the 90s extension of the hotel: Victorian-style cornicing gestures to the listed Victorian facade of Sir Norman Shaw. In the conservatory, bold items of furniture appropriate forms from Victorian ironmongery, a further reference to the building’s history that also strengthens the blurred transition between the garden and the hotel interior.

Handmade products and finishes are used abundantly, the maker or applier’s hand visible in the delicate imperfections and careful expressions of each. The rough and textured finishes – which reach their zenith in an elaborate entrance vestibule mosaic – act as a counterpoint to the many more polished elements of glamour that punctuate the space: fringes, tassels, brass details, heavy drapery.

The main challenge for the project was how to create a sanctuary away from the bustle of Cromwell Road, a major artery through central London. The design addresses this through the careful layering of the space with drapery, vegetation, artwork, textiles, lighting and furniture. The space directly parallel to Cromwell Road is designed as a classical enfilade of rooms each with its own specific mood and focus. By focusing inwards instead of outwards through the grand Victorian fenestration, each part of the enfilade is a sanctuary within itself.

Immediately upon entry the guest is presented with two very precisely configured spatial experiences from which to choose. To their right the enfilade of restaurant spaces described above. Straight ahead a view through to the conservatory and gardens, focused through a tight transition space that holds the discreet hotel reception and retail display. This dramatic biaxial choice fully grasps the guest and the commotion of the street they have departed is forgotten.Text description by the architects.

Source: https: www.house-of-dre.com + www.atelierochre.com
Photography by: Kensington Leverne