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15 Dec 2022

Guild of Saint Luke on keeping warmth at the heart of hospitality design

Guild of Saint Luke on keeping warmth at the heart of hospitality design

Award-winning design studio Guild of Saint Luke talks to HRC about revitalising historic brasseries, working with the structure of an existing building and keeping warmth at the heart of hospitality design. To find out more about the Design & Décor section at HRC 2023, click here

Tell us a bit about the Guild of Saint Luke

The Guild of Saint Luke is a next generation design studio that works differently from much of the competition. Rather than have expensive central offices and salaried employees, The Guild makes the most of an extensive network of freelance architects, artists and artisans from around the world. These top talents are attracted to the quality of our projects and, in our opinion, produce their best work when afforded the freedom to live as they wish. As a studio, we cut our teeth on a number of historic brasserie restorations throughout France, and have since evolved into a full service studio that creates ground-up builds such as Maison François. We are currently operating in the hospitality, residential and retail sectors. 

In the UK, the Guild of Saint Luke has been recognised for the design of Maison Francois in Mayfair, what inspired this design?

The design was heavily inspired by Ricardo Bofill’s monumental cement factory conversion, ‘La Fabrica’. In general, we try not to look at other restaurant designs for inspiration as that is how you easily fall into the trap of creating repetitive, ‘cookie cutter’ designs. Given the high ceilings and concrete shell that we inherited, we looked to churches and other brutalist interiors in order to find our voice. Of course, we could not avoid being influenced by iconic Art Deco brasseries of the past but we tried to play this down rather than dial it up. 

How do you approach finding new ideas?

New ideas flow through the company with relative ease because we are constantly engaged with design source material, be it archival or on the never-ending moodboard that is Instagram. However, as mentioned above, I would say that we try to look outside of the genre in which we are working for inspiration. We have no desire to imitate an existing restaurant or hotel, but are quite happy to re-contextualise a residential interior from the past in a hospitality project for instance. 

Are there any trends or materials or approaches in design that are particularly interesting or inspiring you at the moment?

I think that we are feeling the influence of the return to 90s minimalism, and the embrace of cool metals. We see it as a reaction to the overblown maximalism that we have seen in London hospitality in recent years. 

What do you have to keep in mind when designing hospitality spaces?

The one thing to always keep in mind is the warmth of the space. Hospitality is all about receiving and no matter how cool your design, if it is not warm and inviting, people will struggle to hunker down and get cosy. 
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