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Beach huts, Brighton rock and bananas: The playful inspirations behind Brighton Beach House’s interiors

Soho House Senior Designer, Sophie Baker, shares how the city’s unique character inspired the design for our first coastal House in the UK, from its Art Deco architecture to local artist David Shrigley’s banana-shaped pool

By Megan Murray

The phrase, 'something for everyone' might never have been so apt than when talking about Brighton. Located on England's south coast, this city's Regency architecture, promenades and pier nod to its heritage as a well-to-do seaside getaway, but nowadays its buzzing with art, music and independent food scenes, and is widely recognised as the UK's LGBTQIA+ hub.

As the closest House to the capital, Brighton Beach House is both an easy day trip and an addition to Brighton's already thriving creative landscape. The two-storey space covers a main club, terrace, Cecconi's restaurant, and events space.

'We wanted the building to show the two sides to Brighton - the playful seaside element with nods to deck chairs and sticks of rock, as well as a true representative of the city's identity, featuring contributions from the LGBTQIA+ community, emerging and established artists, and plenty of furniture, fabrics and accessories from local makers,' says Soho House Senior Designer, Sophie Baker.

While the design of every House is influenced by the surrounding area, Brighton Beach House's interiors look to the past and the future to tell the story of this unique city. Here, Baker shares the key inspirations behind the project.

Resurgence of Art Deco architecture

'While much of the seafront was built in the Regency period, Brighton is also home to a lot of Art Deco architecture that informed the House's style.

'This project has been over a decade in the making and the ground floor was existing when we took over the property. As we've moved forward, we were able to add an additional floor, which is split into east and west pavilions and inspired by the curved shapes of this era. In the club, this offers huge, spanning views of the sea, and we chose furniture to work with the rounded space, such as the Garret armchair, circular rugs, and bulbous sofas.

'We also included period details from that time such as Art Deco stepped cornicing around the ceiling, painted in a lighter shade than the walls to create a contrast.'

Using colour as an ode to Brighton’s seafront

'I have worked on some really exciting Houses across the globe, but there's something special about working on a project in your hometown. Brighton is an amazing place, from its creativity to the coastline, so it was important to me that the building's design reflected that.

'The colour palette plays between softer pastels and an earthy terracotta, but a prominent shade is what we've nicknamed "Brighton Blue", which was developed from the railings that run down the pier. We painted the main club's walls in this colour using a polished plaster, which is built up slowly to create a textured effect. The richer, warm tones come through in the natural red and cream mosaic flooring and terracotta accessories, such as the lamp bases on the main bar, to balance out the ice-cream shades.

'In our joinery, bar fronts and arches, we have referenced shapes from the pier, lamp post details and boats - there's even a porthole in the club ceiling.

Celebrating the UK’s coastline

'There's something tongue-in-cheek about aspects of the British seaside and we wanted to include a sense of playfulness in this project. We were inspired by classic motifs such as deck chairs, striped beach huts and Brighton rock, so we created our own spin in a way that feels elevated and appropriate for the House.

'For example, we're making our own stick of rock and this has inspired the diagonal striped, pastel-pink pool towels, too. Striped details continue on the terrace flooring, as well as throughout the fabrics and upholstery. On the ground floor, there's another nod to rock - our events space. With a stage that sits in front of floor-to-ceiling views of the beach, we will hold live music in what Nick Jones has named "The Rock Room" as a play on words, nodding to both Brighton and the genre. We've even created our own beach huts, which will serve typical seaside treats.

'Of course, a huge part of what makes this location special is the sea, so you'll see water-inspired design details all over the space. The main club's bar has a waved façade and the ceiling is covered in a beautiful mural inspired by the water, painted by a local artist.'

Involving local artists and creatives

'Art is a big part of this space and our Global Art Director, Kate Bryan, is amazing at finding local artists to work with. The art team worked across several collections for the space; The Local Collection is comprised of pieces by artists born, based or trained in Brighton and its surroundings. As soon as you walk in, look to the right and you'll see Tania Kovats's piece, which features 30 water vessels, each one filled with water drawn from the closest source of every Soho House - Mumbai has been collected from Juhu Beach by a local member, Amsterdam House from Westertoegang Canal, and Babington House from Kilmersdon Brook.

'The Brighton Beacon Collection is curated by Gemma Rolls-Bentley and brings together some of the most influential queer artists of our time - from newly emerging to

critically acclaimed contemporary masters. Its name reflects the notion of a beacon city in reaction to Brighton's global significance as an LGBTQIA+ haven. You'll see pieces from the likes of David Hockney, Prem Sahib, and Maggi Hambling.

'And, we couldn't talk about this House without mentioning the banana-shaped, infinity edge dipping pool designed for us by David Shrigley, who lives very close by in Kemptown. This is our first ever artist-designed pool and Kate Bryan recently interview Shrigley about why he chose the ripe banana as a metaphor for Soho House's arrival - it's a great read.'