Category Archives: Projects

Bill Amberg Studio Projects

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Finer Details: Looking back at the redesign of the Asprey London flagship store

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

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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 

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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

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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.

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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.

To see other interiors projects by Bill Amberg Studio, please see our Interiors portfolio.

To read about the project in full, please see the Fosters + Partners page: Aspers New Bond Street.

For more information on the heritage of Asprey, please see their website.

Interested in finding out how to use leather in your next interior project?

Bill Amberg presents CPD in using leather in architecture and interiors

If you are interested to find out more about using leather in architecture and interiors, Bill Amberg is available for a CPD session. To find out more, please get in touch.

A bespoke leather floor for Selfridges men’s shoe salon

Within the course of two months, Bill Amberg Studio designed and installed a 280 sqm bespoke leather floor for Selfridges new men’s shoe department. Here, we reveal how we did it.

Opened in 2012, at over 15,000 square feet and featuring over 250 brands, the Selfridges men’s shoe department is one of the first of its kind in Europe. The entire department is made up of a series of smaller spaces for the different brands and styles within a custom designed area for each. As well as a space for pop-up events and showcases, two salons offer specialist services. One salon is dedicated to driving shoes and one for made-to-measure shoes. Together with the team at Selfridges, the Bill Amberg Studio designed and installed a unique bespoke leather floor for the made-to-measure shoe salon.

The design of the floor focuses on the idea of ‘leather on leather’ – the floor being made of the same materials as the soles of a gentleman’s shoes. The project was an interesting challenge for Bill and the design team as the client was very specific in their decision to opt for a leather floor. Although we have installed a leather floor in a variety of interiors, this space would see an exceptionally high footfall. Therefore, in the first stages of the process, it was crucial to select a tough and highly durable leather. Taking inspiration from the concept of English modernity, an English vegetable pit-tanned sole leather seemed ideal. Sole leather comes from the hardest part of the hide and can become very dense when the fibres are compressed. During the tanning process, the hides are hung individually in a pit, rather than rotated in a drum; a process that allows the fibres of the hide to firm. Similar to the qualities of a good shoe, this makes the leather pliable to the extent that we can work with it, yet flexible enough to offer the type of durability required for a floor. The final touch is a beeswax finish that gives the leather an elegant lustre.

Once the leather arrives at our workshop, the it takes on a character that is very similar to wood. Taking inspiration from wood flooring patterns, we opted for a parquet style pattern. In order to achieve various natural patinas from the soles of people’s shoes and the surface beneath the leather tiles, the floor was directly laid on site. This will enable the material to age naturally, beautifying further as it does.

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Four years later, the Bill Amberg bespoke leather floor continues to add a refined and elegant touch to the made-to-measure salon and can be seen on the 1st floor of the department store. A brave and inspired choice for a floor, we wouldn’t expect anything else from Selfridges and are delighted to have been part of the exciting concept.

Interested in finding out how to use leather in your next interior project?

Bill Amberg presents CPD in using leather in architecture and interiors

If you are interested to find out more about using leather in architecture and interiors, Bill Amberg is available for a CPD session. To find out more, please get in touch.

Adding Elegance on Clerkenwell Green: The Buckley Building

Working in collaboration with Derwent London and Buckley Grey Yeoman architects, the Bill Amberg Studio had the opportunity of working on the interiors for 49 Clerkenwell Green, otherwise known as The Buckley Building.

The 85,100 sq ft refurbishment sits in this diverse neighbourhood in Clerkenwell; an area that has grown dramatically over the years and now offers a rich mixture of creative industries, craft enterprises and global brands. The Buckley Building is no different and is now home to offices and retail with residents including Deloitte, Unilever, Tipp24 and a restaurant space.

The interior has been designed with a very modern industrial style, honouring the industrial heritage of the area and keeping the redevelopment up to date with metal finishes. The combination of exposed brick walls and brass and silver elements were further enhanced with custom-made leather banquettes. The leather chosen for the project had to sit in line with the various textures, providing durability and quality finish for a long time to come. The chosen leather was a shrunken bull hide with a striking grain texture and in a bold black grey tone. The thickness and bold style of the banquettes with their slightly bulky size added to the industrial feel of the rest of the space, yet are soft and offer superior comfort.

One of the key features within the reception lounge is the main reception desk. Working with the architect, we developed a leather reception desk that recesses into polished concrete. Combining elegance with industrial form, the final look was a successful combination of two highly distinct materials and textures.

Since it’s completion in 2013, the Buckley Building has won the Commercial Interior Award at the 2015 Surface Design Show.

Interiors by Bill Amberg Studio

For more Interior projects similar to the Buckley Building, please have a look at our Interiors Portfolio.

Functional design: eclectic hospitality furniture for Sushisamba, London

Here at the Bill Amberg Studio, we take pride in working to unique and challenging briefs that push the boundaries of  designing with leather. One such project was developing hospitality furniture for the highly acclaimed Sushisamba restaurant in London.

The task here was to come up with a series of furniture that makes use of the space with efficiency while maximizing the number of seats that can be accommodated comfortably. The project brief required us to present three different type of table tops, two different sizes of banquette seats, and two kinds of waiter’s stations.

Sushisamba brings together the culture and cuisine of three distinct countries; Japan, Brazil and Peru. As well as the cuisine, the influence of these three cultures is profound on the nature of the interior décor of each restaurant, forming a unique and high quality dining experience. For the London restaurant, the client shared that we were to ensure the furniture reflected this multicultural and eclectic style of cuisine.

Working to a very specific brief, the design team were also faced with spatial constraints onsite; located on the 38th floor, it was vital to consider the space available for transporting the furniture up to the restaurant space in the lifts. Getting such large furniture pieces to the restaurant levels was not an easy task and so the design team had to be very careful while dimensioning everything so that it could fit in the lift and through the corridors.

For the banquette seats, the wooden box cases have been designed to be as less intrusive as possible by capitalising on the space available. Carefully designed ultra-thin surrounding boxes kept the dimensions and weight in touch allowing easy installation and ease for the future if a layout change should become necessary. To solve the issue of transporting the large banquette seats into the building, a mechanism was included to the wooden box so the seats can be separated during transit and placed back onto the wooden boxes efficiently on site. Further to the detachable seats, a set of wheels on each component further enabled ease of transportation from the workshop to the restaurant floors.

For the dining tables, a precision laser cut wood technique was incorporated to achieve an embellished design on the surface. A high glossy finish was created by adding extra layers of lacquer to maintain the original look against daily wear. Each piece of furniture from the dining tables to the staff stations, were custom made by specialist manufactures sourced by the Bill Amberg Studio to ensure they were of the best quality and made to last. The final result achieves the key requirements of our client, supported by our expertise and knowledge of working with leather. The restaurant space is highly flexible and comfortable for staff and customers alike and a reflection of the extremely high standards of the Sushisamba brand.

Further to the banquettes, the client requested we design two bespoke waiter stations that would merge in with the rest of the interior space whilst supporting the high level of staff activity. Inspired by Japanese Shoji screens, the waiter station has been made to the specific dimensions of each of the objects it will store, with every ledge and drawer in place for a very precise purpose, based on the input from the waiting staff themselves. Even the rubbish compartments have been thoughtfully designed with water-resistant inside surfaces for easy cleaning.  A separate back compartment keeps wires separated away neatly whilst castors on the base provide easy movement around the dining areas. Finally, a special finish is applied to the outer surfaces to ensure they are resistant to damage and daily wear.

Creating texture and depth at the davidson building

Around 10 years ago, the Bill Amberg Studio designed and installed a leather wall and reception desk in the foyer of Southampton Row’s Davidson Building. Both were still going strong, but the owners and developers, Derwent London (a long-standing Bill Amberg collaborator), asked us to return to the space to help give the interiors an aesthetic overhaul.

From three full animal hides, we created a series of horizontally fluted wall panels with disguised seams, that add texture and depth to the reception area. These are complemented by a dramatic 15m desk, supported by a single steel pole and strikingly upholstered in cantilevered red-dyed shoulder leather. Using a finely honed edge-moulding technique, we were able to create the illusion that the desk is fashioned from a single piece of leather.

The final touch – a soft, fluted reception bench colour matched to the desk – gave the space the update it needed, turning the area into a bright, modern and welcoming entry point into a remarkable building.