After years of planning, the Ned, Soho House's joint venture with the Sydell Group in the heart of London's financial district, will soon open its doors. In this sneak peek, discover how our designers channelled the charm of the era, embracing its eccentric spaces. The faded glamour of a 1930s transatlantic ocean liner was the starting point for the interior design of Sir Edwin 'Ned' Lutyens' The Ned. 'We trawled the bank's archives to find out what the building looked like in its 1930s heyday,' says interior designer Adam Greco. 'We were inspired by the attention to detail of the great ships of that era, such as the SS Normandie, as well as the opulence of the Orient Express.'
Don't forget to look up when you enter The Saloon, one of six dramatic event spaces on the historic sixth floor. The monograms that punctuate the ceiling each read MB, for Midlands Bank, and were designed by Lutyens himself. They also appear on the backs of bespoke armchairs in the boardroom.
The grand tapestry that wraps the upper walls of our biggest event space (appropriately called The Tapestry Room) was made around 1929 at Lee's Tapestry Works in Birkenhead. The design focuses on the coat of arms of the principal British cities and towns in which Midland Bank was represented, and features 120 different coats of arms.
A Grade-1 challenge
The building's Grade-1-listed status proved challenging, says Alice Lund, also a designer on the project, particularly when it came to the ground floor. 'When Sir Edwin Lutyens designed the bank, he installed 92 green verdite marble columns and hundreds of walnut-panelled counters for the bank tellers. The whole lot was protected by the listing and we had to work out how to fit nine restaurants and bars into the space.'
The old bank's reception area has been preserved - but now, instead of hundreds of people going about their banking business, more than 850 people can dine on the ground floor at one time.
Snug yet comfortable
Categorised from the intimate Cosy to the generous Lutyens Suite, the 252 bedrooms are each designed to represent the hierarchy of a 1930s bank. 'We designed three hotels in one,' explains Greco. 'A Cosy bedroom reflects the sort of place where a mail clerk might live, and has a warm feel and floral wallpaper. The Medium bedrooms are flashier, with matching Art Deco furniture - pieces we imagined might have been purchased with a junior banker's first bonus. The Large bedrooms would be occupied by a director and are furnished with luxurious pieces, like a grand four-poster bed draped with rich fabrics.'
You'll find our pure white House china and stainless steel House cutlery in the Ned's nine restaurants, while our Barwell crystal and goose down duvets and pillows feature in the bedrooms.
'My favourite space is The Vault,' says Lund. The Vault bar and lounge at The Ned is lined with more than 3,000 original safety deposit boxes. In the belly of the building, it is dominated by the bank's original stainless steel safety deposit boxes, and its two-metre-wide door remains a key feature. Once the formidable guardian to a multi-room bank vault, the 20-tonne door was made by Chatwood Safe Company - one of only two ever made - and was used as inspiration for the vault in the 1964 James Bond film, Goldfinger.
The vault once stored gold bullion deposits of £335 million - around £15 billion in today's money. Lund adds: 'We balanced out the severe geometry by creating a plush club space that will be used by Ned's Club members. The vault will now be a lounge bar serving Negronis and Gimlets, as well as small plates and snacks.'