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American diner meets old English members' clubs at the new Mondrian London hotel bar


BY HALLY WOLHANDLER

Tom Dixon combines British and American style at a new hotel bar in London.

Designed by Tom Dixon and his firm, Design Research Studio, the newly opened Mondrian London hotel has a number of major draws, including its location on the Thames in the storied 1978 Sea Containers building and a new restaurant from chef and Surface contributing editor Seamus Mullen. Another is its ground-floor bar: A good hotel typically depends on an alluring cocktail spot, and the Mondrain’s, called Dandelyan, delivers the necessary moody drama.

       In creating the space, Dixon took inspiration for what he felt was a common thread of the hotel’s founding: the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. Warren Platner, the architect of the Sea Containers, was an American who did a number of projects in London. The Mondrain is a New York City hotel just now opening across the pond, and the hotel’s owner is a London native who went to school in the U.S.

       “The whole hotel was based on the idea of the culture clash between the USA and the U.K.—or rather, the ‘special relationship’ of beloved of politicians,” Tom Dixon says. “Where the restaurant was based on a New York diner, the bar is inspired by the members’ clubs of times gone by.”

       The sumptuous space features a veined solid marble bar that refers to the “golden age of formal drinking,” and the palette includes greens, pinks, and golds—a  clashing ‘70s color palette” that nods to Warren Platner, according to Dixon. Other materials include brass, velvet, leather, and a traditional herringbone-patterned oak floor.

       Lights were carefully chosen with an eye toward old-school luxury. “The lighting throughout the bar was designed to create an intimate atmosphere,” Dixon says. This includes a mix of architectural elements, among them a backlit bar and large downlights in the ceiling, as well as a floor and wall lights from Tom Dixon Base range, all of which establish an understated glow.

       The space was named for Ryan Chetiyawardana, the London-based bar owner also known as Mr.Lyan, who runs the space and created the cocktail menu. Although the bar looks out on the Thames, the drinks Chetiyanwardana developed take inspiration from the flowers of the British countryside, with concoctions like the Dandelyan Sour, made from dandelion capillaire and garden bitters. Harking back to an earlier time but incorporating unexpected twists, drinks such as these make a fitting complement to Design Research Studio’s old-meets-new inspiration.