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Legendary London music venue KOKO is back and – it’s bigger than ever

A new members’ club draws on more than 100 years of performance for its interior design. House of KOKO is part of famous London live music venue, KOKO, which has undergone a top-to-toe refurbishment.

Formerly Camden Palace, KOKO is housed in a Victorian Grade II-listed theatre in Camden, north London. More than 20,000sq ft of new space has been added for the House of KOKO members’ club. The renovation is the work of Archer Humphryes Architects, with the club’s interior design by Pirajean Lees.

House of KOKO interiors
Battens Bar inside House of Koko. Photography: Lesley Lau

The expanded music venue and clubhouse are the brainchild of promoter and owner Olly Bengough, who bought the run-down building in 2004 and restored and reopened it as KOKO. As well as the old theatre building, the venture now occupies an adjacent piano factory from 1800 and the 1860s Hope and Anchor pub. The total restoration cost £70m and includes a new roof terrace though it’s not been without set-backs, including fire and flood damage. That’s all firmly in the past now, however as the venue threw open its doors this spring.

Clémence Pirajean and James Michael Lees of London-based Pirajean Lees have designed the interiors of 16 new spaces for the club, from bijou listening booths to a roof terrace restaurant. Members can choose between a cocktail bar in the dome, piano room, library, hidden speakeasy and lounge areas.

House of KOKO interiors
Vinyl Room inside the House of KOKO. Photography: Lesley Lau

Pirajean Lees set themselves the task of giving each room its own identity. When it came to artistic references, the duo was spoilt for choice. Big names to have played there include Charlie Chaplin, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, Grace Jones, Madonna, Wham!,Kanye West and Dua Lipa. So the piano room’s bespoke leather sofa harks back to the punk era, and a 1940s jazz bar is recalled through the carpet’s cigarette pattern.

They also borrowed from the practical elements of a working theatre, giving the bathrooms the feel of backstage hair and make-up rooms.

1A Camden High St, London NW1 7JE

KOKO’s Victorian theatre space retains its grandeur. Photography: Tahran Wilkhu
House of KOKO interiors
The library inside House of KOKO. Photography: Lesley Lau
Cafe KOKO. Photography: Lesley Lau
House of KOKO interiors
Photography: Lesley Lau
House of KOKO interiors
Photography: Lesley Lau

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