BY NICKY SUMMER
London icons – there are a few… Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, The 02 Centre, The Shard – and the fabulous, much loved Chiltern Firehouse! After the extravagant lighting displays of the Queens Platinum Jubilee, I decided to return here, to one of London’s most unique establishments, and study exactly what makes the ambience so warm and inviting – lighting specifically. *I hadn’t been for a year or so – when most of these images were recorded, which explains the mask protocol seen in the videos…
In the indoor/outdoor conservatory-style main room of The Chiltern Firehouse, the interior scheme is a perfect combination of wicker/bamboo framed furnishings, glass panelled screens, an open log fire, lots of hanging plants and low level lighting. As a designer myself, I always steer clear of harsh overhead lights – unless they’re dimmable – and much prefer to use lamps and candlelight; here, there’s an abundance of lighting – from hinge brackets mounted against the exposed brick work through to exotic pineapple-based lamps on dark wood consoles, Tiffany-style pendant lights above the cocktail bar, standard lamps with linen shades placed behind deep, comfy sofas.
Every tiny detail has been well thought out and no expense spared, right down to the light fittings supplied and installed by specialist industry resource, Focus SB. Their collection includes a huge variety of electrical accessories and bespoke finish options, with the ‘Victorian’ faceplate style chosen for The Chiltern Firehouse (click the image further down this page to access the relevant section on the Focus SB website); it’s always the attention to quality detailing that gives an interior scheme its edge…
LIGHTING UP THE CHILTERN FIREHOUSE:
I’d heard of Focus SB before my visit to The Chiltern Firehouse because a) I’m in the interiors business b) They are the leaders in their arena and c) Kelly Hoppen has recently fronted a very successful design collaboration and promotion campaign on behalf of the company. I contacted Steve Moss, the sincerely enthusiastic Sales and Marketing Manager who’s on the management team at Focus SB, to get his take on the decor at The Chiltern Firehouse, discover how Focus SB got involved and find out how the company generally markets its products to the world of interior design. This is what Steve had to say about the brand…
We’ve had products specified by designers and heritage experts at Windsor Castle and at Hampton Court Palace…”Steve Moss, Focus SB
NS: “Steve, can you tell me in a nutshell exactly which products Focus SB provides to the interior design industry, where they’re produced and where they’re installed?”
SM: “Focus SB manufactures bespoke premium electrical accessories made to order in-house in the UK; the company is based across three sites in sunny St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex and there are a number of showrooms both across the UK and internationally. Initially, back in 1979 when we started trading, we specialised in architectural ironmongery before expanding our expertise in metal finishing and design into specialist high quality electrical accessories. Interestingly, an opportunity to offer a solution for the royal suites at Hampton Court Palace was one of our very first major projects…”
In addition to The Chiltern Firehouse, we’ve also worked with several award winning hospitality designers over the years, including G.A. Group on the Corinthia London, Robert Angell Design International and Fabled Studio on One Aldwych…”Steve Moss, Focus SB
NS: “And how did you get involved with The Chiltern Firehouse project – that must have been super exciting for everyone at Focus SB?!”
SM: “The Chiltern Firehouse is such a unique space, to fit the brief, we were one of the few companies that could offer a no-compromise solution to the client. The hotel needed a manufacturer that could offer a full suite of high quality electric accessories, a series of tailor-made bespoke accessories in the bedrooms (seen below), and create matching faceplates for another manufacturer’s HVAC system. As with most of the projects we get involved in, offering continuity of design and finish is the huge benefit of what we do…”
TO THE CHILTERN FIREHOUSE BEDROOM SUITES:
“Our typical customers are not impulse buyers, so we collaborate with designers and wholesalers who want to offer their discerning clients and customers a standard collection with the advantage of niche, bespoke ‘non counter’ products…”Steve Moss, Focus SB
NS: “How do interior designers and architects get hold of your Focus SB products and what would you say is your USP?”
SM: “We deal directly with specialist wholesalers who sell to electrical contractors as it usually falls within their remit to purchase our type of product. As a team, we work very closely with prominent design consultants, smart home integrators, consulting engineers and architects. Our product offering is quite vast, so listening to our clients’ needs, understanding what they want to achieve, and matching this with products in our portfolio, is key. We also work with clients to create new, exciting and exclusive products to help their projects stand out from the crowd.”
A recent collaboration between Focus SB and the celebrity interior designer Kelly Hoppen CBE has seen us launch a unique collection of electrical accessories currently being specified for prime residential projects in the UK and China…”Steve Moss, Focus SB
SM: “Working with some of the industry’s leading home automation and security specialists, we can offer continuity of finish throughout a project by matching their controls with our accessories. We can produce bespoke metal grid front plates for switches, sockets and components to match a variety of hospitality and smart home andproducts, offering our customers exceptional project design and finish continuity detail. Unique to Focus SB, we also offer an in-house custom finishes service for designers requiring bespoke variants of our standard finishes and a range of specialist bespoke services…”
So, there you have it – quality light fittings made to order in your own choice of bespoke finish, delivered on time and in style… the first choice of the world’s top designers and architects! If you’d like to view Focus SB products for your own project, check out the collection at http://www.focus-sb.co.uk or get in touch with the wonderful Steve at the company headquarters (details on website, address as above).
*COMING UP NEXT MONTH: Steve Moss of Focus SB on working with the James Bond set designers, plus a review by Nicky Summer of the 007 suite at The Dorchester.
SCENES FROM THE CHILTERN FIREHOUSE: The Chiltern Firehouse – a restaurant and 26 suite hotel located in Marylebone, London – is a collaboration between American hotelier Andre Balazs and British property developer Harry Handelsman, CEO of the Manhattan Loft Corporation (pictured at the top right of this page with Nicky). The hotel was designed by architect Archer Humphryes, the chef is Nuno Mendes and the famous oyster cart manned by Toby Boutall at the entrance (seen in the informal video bottom of the page) is curated by the legendary oysterman and author Bobby Groves. The Chiltern Firehouse is probably most famous for it’s A-list parties, live music evenings, excellent service and it’s comfortable, laid back ‘home from home’ vibe.