In 2004, Lord Foster of Foster + Partners called upon the expertise of Bill Amberg for the leather interiors for the redesign of the Asprey London flagship store.
Aspery; a heritage of luxury spanning 235 years
Founded by William Asprey in 1781, Asprey was founded in Mitcham, Surrey until the company moved into the current London base at New Bond Street in 1846. Asprey has established a worldwide reputation for itself as a brand who presents timeless, valuable handcrafted luxury goods with a quintessentially British feel.
With a strong heritage that spans over 200 years, Asprey defines itself as one of the leading retailers and manufacturers of high-quality craftsmanship and now has stores all over the world. Having established a reputable place in London’s prestigious shopping district, the flagship New Bond Street store continues to remain an essential part of the Asprey’s identity.
Originally occupying a store at 167 New Bond Street, the company went on to purchase five listed buildings that sat immediately behind the original shop. Taking over the entire corner of New Bond Street, this new base serves as not only a retail store but also as a workshop for bespoke and commissioned work.
Re-imagining a legacy: The redesign of the New Bond Street store
In 2004, Asprey London commissioned Lord Foster and David Mlinaric to redesign the flagship store and incorporate the additional buildings to create one of the largest luxury retail stores in the world as we see it today. This redevelopment was vital in connecting the various historical listed buildings together through a new central courtyard. The new store saw a sequence of retail spaces, offices and workshops with a grand staircase in the heart of it.
The new design included the introduction of what has now become an iconic new central atrium connecting the two stories and various buildings, with a glazed canopy overhead. The selection of materials for the interiors represents the rich heritage of the brand, whilst offering a clean, modern palette. The materials used include; Venetian plaster, stone, hardwoods, brass, and leather. With Asprey’s reputation for fine craftsmanship, it was only fitting that Fosters + Partners contact Bill Amberg to collaborate on the leather elements for a number of the interior spaces.
Leather interior expertise by Bill Amberg
Foster + Partners invited Bill Amberg to provide his knowledge on the type of leather that would be ideal for the selected spaces within the redesign. Within the store, the selected spaces included; leather wall panels for the jewellery hall, leather wall panels for the ladies and gents dressing rooms and the leather handrails for the spiral staircase in the main courtyard.
Working on a project for Asprey, with its long standing heritage of leather goods, meant the choice of leather needed to be of a high quality and representative of their reputation as a luxury goods brand.
With a reputation for working with only the best tanneries in Europe, Bill Amberg was able to source the best French calf hide for the leather wall panels. Often, Bill will look to the fashion and accessories industries to inspire the work of the Studio, and here it is no different. French calf hide is most commonly used in the creation of fashion accessories and goods due to it being a much softer, giving leather. The hides are much smaller in size and so need to be cut and stitched creating much smaller panels. Also, the young age of the animal means the hide is characterised by finer grains, and presents much fewer scaring compared to a full adult hide. These qualities add to the elegant look of the wall panels that are hand cut, padded and saddle stitched in our Queens Park workshop before being fitted onsite. The selection of colours include a classic tan and mustard yellow tanned leather for the walls of the ladies and gents dressing rooms and a cream tan for the walls of the jewellery hall.
For the signature staircase in the courtyard, we looked at the material palette used throughout the redesign of the store. The display cases were made from a combination of glass, brass and dark wood and the staircase was built with a dark brass and so we selected a dark brown tan leather for the leather handrail.
Completed over 10 years ago, the interiors are just as elegant as they were when the new redesigned store opened to the public in 2004. For the Bill Amberg Studio, this project was a great opportunity to work on the leather interiors of one of Britain’s most prestigious luxury goods brands and a reputable project to be involved in. As an advocator of high quality craftsmanship, Bill Amberg Studio continue to produce work that is refined and innovative.