Adorned in Art Deco

London-based design studio, 33 Interiors, has recently completed the interior design for a new luxury residential development in central Paddington, owned by Taylor Wimpey Central London. Here Mathew Freeman, Creative Director at 33 Interiors, talks Inex through the practice’s recent Art Deco enriched scheme.

33 interiors is an interior design practice that focuses on design narrative and attention to detail to deliver a unique and high-quality vision for each client. Working across residential, hospitality and commercial spaces, our team of six offers an approach that combines design creativity with business acumen. This means our schemes make the best use of budgets while delivering beyond client design expectations. We are passionate about translating clients’ ambitions into imaginative interiors and we are always looking for new ways to evolve and develop our approach.

The project
Paddington Exchange is located less than five minutes from Paddington train station, which was first built in the early 1850s and had a strong influence on the architectural tone of the area. The brief was to create an interior that conveyed the ‘romance of the train station’ and had links to the Art Deco period, and to interpret this in a contemporary way.

Art Deco is such a rich period of design to draw inspiration from; we looked at the period as a whole and at the aspects we could translate into a contemporary design. The ‘Romance’ element of the brief made us think of black and white movies; lovers embracing in clouds of steam, and this organically led onto the design of the trains and stations. Our response was to intertwine these elements with the machined curves of the steam trains, evident in the curves of the lobby columns, concierge desk and sleek lines of the bespoke furniture. To date, we have received so many positive comments on the design.


Apart from responding to the creative brief we were given, my role was to make sure we did this on time, on budget and to an exceptionally high standard. We succeeded in the above and this is due to team diligence and consistency of quality. Whether sample reviewing or signing off, I always keep in my mind the final finished product and everything has to live up to that vision or it will be rejected.

The team and I also ‘fight for the design’ to ensure quality and the delivery of our vision. How we do this is to produce a project ‘Bible’ that the main contractor agrees to deliver and we adhere to this to ensure the client receives what 33 originally envisaged.

The lobby
Our lighting design approach within the lobby was to create an elegant, bright feel throughout the day, becoming more sophisticated into the evening. With the double-height space at the front we wanted to create a focal point to elevate the development and support the guests in wayfinding. We used bronze mirrors and acoustic panelling to reflect the light washed down by Art Deco coffers with the ceiling. Down lights with bronze linings add a touch of decadence, while directional track lighting was chosen to subtlety direct guests to the lifts and introduce more dramatic lighting in the evening. We positioned pendant lights to draw attention to the seating area at the rear of the lobby, which reference Art Deco spheres. These spherical shapes also appear on the side tables in the seating area at the front of the lobby to offer a soft focal point at the bottom of the double-height space.


Our starting point was to visit Paddington Station and look for details, patterns and textures that could inspire our design. We then began researching the Art Deco period, in particular we used a reference book from a Victoria and Albert exhibition, and this was very useful. For the residents’ lounge, we decided to be more focused with the concept and developed the design with an influence from the Miami architecture and the machine age.

A lobby’s design all depends on the function of the space, but at this level of residential development, the 24-hour, hotel-style concierge is a vital element to the lobby experience. The Paddington Exchange concierge desk is positioned centrally to allow 360° visibility around the space. This is an important indication of the level of service the residents receive; it is synonymous to a hotel concierge experience, which also includes a subtle but rigorous security presence. The acoustics of these spaces also require a design that facilitates a comfortable environment with no background noise or echo. Finally, signage needs to speak to the residents and guests and direct them on their journey through the building and getting the balance right between subtlety, design and functionality is hugely important.


Contemporary chevrons and colours
The chevron pattern featured on the lobby’s flooring references similar patterns used in the Art Deco period. The aim was to create an interesting journey for all who visited. The experience begins as residents approach the development with the subtle introduction of chevron-patterned stone leading to the entrance. The pattern continues internally becoming a dynamic focal point for the lobby area and introduces cream and slate blue as the base palette with brass detailing announcing ‘Paddington Exchange’ inlaid into the tile. The chevron continues along the corridors to the apartments in the bespoke carpet design. These elements create a consistency to the design, a cohesive quality running throughout.

The Art Deco period was quite extravagant and, while we were referencing this period, we were also translating it into a contemporary design which we wanted to be more subtle. The palette we chose developed from our train station research drawing on the traditional bronze lettering in the flooring. We introduced walnut veneer to the post-boxes, a typical Art Deco material. The blue was drawn from our research into international architecture of the period, specifically Miami, and driven by our tile selection to create the chevron pattern, this also complemented the development’s branding. The cream solid surface concierge desk is reminiscent of architectural form and adds femininity to the space. To bring warmth to the palette we chose to use brass and bronze, in the tinted mirror and the perforated acoustic panelling.


The furniture was conceived as part of our design concept of the residents’ lounge on the first floor, creating a synergy between the two spaces. When designing the lobby, we chose furniture that comprised bold Art Deco shapes, but we finished these in subtle pastel colours inspired by our research of Miami Art Deco architecture and design. We designed all of the pieces for the project so each one is truly bespoke. For the chairs, we wanted both durability of the structure and the fabric specification.

We have a strong pipeline of exciting projects all over the UK and overseas for next 12 months. Abu Dhabi is one of our team’s major design destinations as we have one of our largest projects to date based in the region. We have proposals in Penang, Malaysia, and our UK hospitality portfolio is also set to grow with the completion of Marriott Maida Vale and other hospitality projects. Our portfolio has grown significantly over the last three years and is really taking shape; we are looking forward to growing it even further and showing people what we can do as a practice.


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