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Bermonds Locke: Holloway Li create a sustainable lifestyle hotel inspired by Mojave Desert

This month, Locke Living unveil their latest offering, lifestyle hotel Bermonds Locke – a sustainable urban retreat in the heart of Bermondsey. Mix speaks to designers Holloway Li.

16/09/2020 3 min read
The reception

Project Team

  • Client

    Locke Living

  • Interior design

    Holloway Li

  • Furniture

    Monologue, Polkima

  • Surfaces

    Toulemonde Bochart, Aydin

  • Other suppliers

    Vitra, Lusso Stone, Artiq

Brought to life with repurposed materials, Holloway Li’s design at Bermonds Locke has transformed the hotel into a ‘surreal, golden-hued haven’ inspired by California’s iconic Joshua tree and Mojave Desert.

The desert-inspired aesthetic begins with a moonlit reception, immersed in a glittering inverted mirage created by overhead mirrors – inspired by The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson. ‘The effect feels really magic,’ says Alex Holloway, Creative Director at Holloway Li. ‘Our inspiration was rooted in California’s Joshua Tree and Mojave Desert, drawing on the psychedelic experience and setting out to transform the 143-room space into a surreal, golden-hued haven.’

Marking a new design direction for hotel-meets-home brand Locke, Holloway Li has curated a living experience carved out of recycled construction site materials that will feature across the studio rooms, bar and restaurant, coworking spaces, gym and yoga room.

The studio harnessed the potential of upcycling to curate bespoke furniture and interiors throughout the space, with swing chairs, fixed concrete banquette seating and suspended planters separating the space between bar and restaurant. ‘The furniture choices were essential to the scheme – from the iridescent rainbow surfaces to the imperfection of textured concrete, designed to recreate the desert’s tonality,’ says Alex. ‘All our choices were garnered toward unifying the sunset drenched, desert aesthetic.’

Bringing the changing gradient of the desert sunset to south London, Locke’s signature functional living rooms on the upper floors are dipped in blue, beige and grey hues, with saturated vibrant reds on the lower floors. The studio has designed bespoke modular sofas, handmade using sand mixed with resin lay-up to recreate the desert’s tonality, complemented by rough-sawn timber flooring.   

Concrete destined for landfill serves as plinths for a six-metre long terrazzo table in the ground floor workspace, shaped into a bar frontage that will serve beer from Bermondsey’s Beer Mile. Repurposed steel rebar and clay bricks form decorative ironwork and joinery elements throughout the space.

‘A circular material economy was central to the design process, harnessing upcycling potential to create bespoke furniture and interiors throughout the space – as an example, we recycled concrete strength-testing cubes to create impactful table plinths in the coworking area, and the bar front in the restaurant, referencing rocky desert outcrops,’ says Alex. ‘We love the humble story of these waste elements, each cube having a unique sand/cement mix, numbered and dated with distinctive handwriting.’

What makes this space unique is the play on unexpected materials and colours. ‘Material innovation extends throughout all elements of the space, beyond the upcycled waste materials,’ Alex explains. ‘Look to the bar tops, wall panelling and sliding partitions in the bedrooms, where an industrial process of zinc-passivation creates an iridescent rainbow finish – again mirroring the desert motif.’

This metal-dipping process forms a patina over the metal, embedding the desert sky into the hotel’s scheme.

‘The budget was extremely tight, so we had to be really imaginative with how we created interesting moments within this frame,’ the team tells us. ‘The hotel floor plan was also highly unconventional and didn’t naturally lend itself to the typical floorplan of a hotel, which would often have a lot of vertical and horizontal repetition. Consider also, a typical hotel has eight different room types, repeated throughout the hotel. Bermonds has 143 room types and 53 different unique types within that 143, engendering a huge game of Tetris to try and fit them all in!’

Designed to be lived in, each individual studio is equipped with a fully functional kitchen and laundry facilities, giving guests the flexibility to live in each room undisturbed for anything from one night to three months. Textured concrete walls separate bedrooms from the kitchen and living areas, with bedframes created from blackened rebar and accented with linen canopies. Low cost, low-impact, considered design at its best.

Bermonds Locke is the first of a series of collaborative projects that will see Holloway Li and Locke join creative forces. This latest project is the realisation of the studio’s experimentation with a circular material economy, creating a unique aesthetic as well as revealing low-cost, sustainable practices that speak to the future of design.

Images courtesy of Ed Dabney and Nicholas Worley

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