Scanning around Leo’s, the new supperclub on the lower level of London’s Arts Club, is like a slow, cinematic take.
Dimore Studio designers Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran start with a long cognac-coloured banquette that snakes along a corrugated wall in lipstick-mauve, reaching out to curve around lacquered-top brass tables. The eye continues past a stage shrouded in a curtain of jangly bamboo beads painted with lotus flowers, and finally to a backlit bar etched with a diamond pattern.
As you might expect, the Milan-based designers had plastered their office with images from In the Mood For Love, that great aesthetic touchstone by director Wong Kar-Wai, god of vivid colour and moody tracking shots.
‘The mood board was a work of art in itself,’ says Alice Chadwyck-Healey, executive director of the Arts Club. ‘We knew we were in very good hands.’
While technicians updated the stage with state-of-the-art speakers and Wembley-calibre lighting, Salci and Moran installed painted-silk Chinoiserie pendant lanterns of the sort they launched at the Milan Furniture Fair and featured last month in an audacious exhibition of postwar Italian design at Mazzoleni Art in London. When they are first powered up this week, it’ll be for an exclusive launch party featuring Emeli Sandé. She’ll be followed next weekend by The Downtown Allstars and the Detroit Superband.
This will be the biggest launch at the Arts Club since its 2011 refurbishment. With light-handed direction from chairman Gary Landesberg, DimoreStoudio has transformed Leo’s with a sumptuous mash-up of 20th-century after-dark references. ‘He wanted jazz, we wanted 1950s Palm Beach,’ says Moran.
He translates from Salci, who sprinkles his melodic Italian with words like ‘Riviera’ and ‘Wes Anderson’: ‘We’ve juxtaposed unusual colours that people can’t quite name. The challenge was to be right on the border between sophistication and kitsch, and we’ve turned up the sophistication dial a bit.’
Though chef Jean-Luc Mongodin and mixologist Raffaele Marino remain from the club’s former incarnation, their new workspace seems delivered from a Technicolor era of velvet tub chairs, cut-crystal lamps, royal-purple carpets and grasscloth wallpaper.
‘It’s like giving our team a new car to drive,’ says Chadwyck-Healey of the reboot.