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The Red Room bar at London’s Connaught hotel celebrates the art of interior design

Bryan O’Sullivan Studio’s latest collaboration with Maybourne Hotel Group features an eclectic mix of furniture and fine art.

10/03/2022 4 min read
This article first appeared in Mix Interiors Issue 218


Words: Jenna Campbell

Tucked away behind a velvet-curtained doorway, The Red Room at The Connaught – the first new bar concept to open at the Mayfair institution in more than a decade – brings together female-focused artistry, thoughtful design and fine wines.

Joining the hotel’s renowned bars including The Connaught Bar, which was recently crowned World’s Best Bar, the space features a collection of red-hued artworks in various mediums by four female visionaries – from one of the most celebrated of our time, to a pioneering young Vietnamese artist.

“The Connaught has long been home to a significant collection of art, both classic and contemporary,” notes Paddy McKillen, co-owner of the Maybourne Hotel Group who has spent many years amassing the impressive collection. “This paved the way for a collection of four female artists’ work, all in red, which is unusual in its own right. The vision for The Red Room had been in my mind for many years and each piece was bought specifically with this space in mind.”

‘I Am Rouge’, a never-before-seen piece in watercolour, gouache and pencil by the late French-American artist Louise Bourgeois takes centre stage above the central, Italian marble fireplace, while a ruby-red hologram, from the artist’s untitled series of eight holographic pieces from 1998, serves as a looking glass into another red room of sorts. Bourgeois’ works are joined by California-based photographer Trina McKillen’s ‘Composition #8’ and Jenny Holzer’s ‘Benghazi’– the latter employed graphite and watercolours in vibrant shades of red to redact previously censored United States government documents. ‘Scarlet Mist’ dominates another wall – an oil painting by the Vietnamese Tia-Thuy Nguyen, which was purchased by McKillen at the 2018 charity Red Auction in Miami.

Picking up the design mantle is Bryan O’Sullivan, the man behind some of Maybourne’s most celebrated drinking dens, including The Painter’s Room at Claridge’s and The Berkeley Bar & Terrace, amongst other hospitality and residential projects. Putting his signature stamp on the space while allowing the artwork to tell the story, the interiors evoke the intimate feel of an art collector’s living room, boasting a colour palette of soft creams, blush pinks, pearl blues and pastel greens.

“My studio and I were honoured to be asked to work on yet another incredible bar for the Maybourne family, especially given the calibre of art that acted as the launch pad for our ideas,” reflects the designer.

Flanking the fireplace, two sets of striking stained-glass windows in vivid reds and blues by celebrated British glass artist and painter Brian Clarke instantly command attention and set the tone for a venue that feels both elevated and relaxed all at once. Beyond the central fireplace, a series of seating areas feature an eclectic mix of furniture – bespoke pieces from Bryan O’Sullivan studio and vintage mid-century finds – reflecting the studied calm of a well-appointed sitting room. Striped armchairs, antique lighting and floral rugs are complemented by a collection of ceramics and objects d’art, which will be rotated on a continual basis, housed within a partition wall rendered in a pale pink hue to highlight the artworks in all their splendour.

A runway of mosaic, hand cut and hand laid by Italian craftsmen, leads to the elegant, curved bar counter, where guests can pull up a chair, or in this case, a custom stool with a sparkling crystal stem, to choose from a selection of wines from the hotel’s 30,000-bottle cellar, or a wine-based tipple from the bar’s carefully curated capsule collection of cocktails. The front of the bar features high shine ceramic panels in an oxblood shade, while a pink onyx bar top – adorned with jewel-like moulded lamps – and backlit bar back, creates a subtle contrast. A finishing touch in the form of a decorative gantry, created using mottled glass, hangs above to frame the space.

Tucked away from the main spaces is the ombre scarlet snug, which feels somewhat reminiscent of O’Sullivan’s blush-pink hideaway created for the aforementioned Berkeley Bar & Terrace, that features a bespoke mural painted by New York Artist TM Davy, which, like The Red Room, shares a soft and feminine colour palette. In the case of The Red Room, the cocoon-like snug, with its solid marble table, allows guests to sit in convivial anonymity under the glow of a large antique chandelier.

Elsewhere, Murano glassware flecked with red and two custom-made trolleys – crafted from the same red-veined marble as the fireplace and created to decant and serve wine – reinforce the narrative, while a sharp, highly-trained team overseen by the hotel’s Director of Wine, Daniel Manetti and Director of Mixology, Agostino Perrone, combine with a soundtrack of vintage Italian and French music to affirm The Connaught’s status as one of London’s top destinations for design and drink aficionados.

Photography: James McDonald

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