The Audley Receives Exciting Updates From AD100 Design Firm Laplace
By Fiona McCarthy
The Audley’s five-story 19th-century digs.
At first glance, very little might seem changed at The Audley, a traditional 19th-century pub in London’s Mayfair neighborhood. But the psychedelic ceiling, collaged by artist Phyllida Barlow, betrays exciting and curious things afoot. Reopened earlier this fall after three years of extensive updates, its building is the latest offering from Artfarm, the hospitality venture of gallerists Manuela and Iwan Wirth, two of the cofounders of Hauser & Wirth. Spread across five floors, the project includes the ground-floor Audley Public House and upstairs Mount St. Restaurant, as well as three levels of intriguingly themed private rooms. Expect “the unexpected to happen here,” says Ewan Venters, who joined Hauser & Wirth and Artfarm as global CEO last year.
Laplace cofounders Christophe Comoy (Left) And Luis Laplace.
A beloved bolt-hole where City boys have happily drunk pints alongside ladies and gents in black-tie, the pub still maintains its egalitarian spirit thanks to the AD100 studio Laplace, which shepherded the building’s overall transformation. Familiar old touches, such as the double-faced clock that hangs from the beamed ceiling, have been lovingly restored; a new bar has been aged to feel as if it’s always been there; and a piano invites impromptu sing-alongs. “I tried to respect The Audley’s historical features but push boundaries in making every room a bit of a surprise,” says firm cofounder Luis Laplace, who previously collaborated with the Wirths on their own homes in addition to galleries in Somerset, Menorca, London, and St. Moritz.
The new bar at the Audley Public House.
At The Audley, Laplace once again embraced the opportunity to work with Hauser & Wirth’s roster of renowned artists to create what he calls “an experience, something that is different where art can evolve.” Mount St. Restaurant’s mosaic floor by Rashid Johnson was painstakingly laid by hand, each piece of marble having been specially selected, then gently and repeatedly polished to bring out the stones’ vibrant hues. Architect and artist worked closely together to consider, as Laplace explains, “how to make a clear statement that it’s not decorative.” Adds Laplace:“Rashid’s work will provoke a lot of things in people—it’s powerful and I would also say it’s not pretty.”
The Audley Public House features reimagined interiors by AD100 designer Luis Laplace, with a ceiling mural by Phyllida Barlow.
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The “naughty” top-floor Games Room features an erotic ceiling mural by Anj Smith and Laplace’s own interpretation in rug form of Louise Bourgeois gouache paintings of breasts. “Design, for me, means everything has to have a functional meaning, everything has to be very rational,” he reflects.“But emotions became the drive, allowing me to do something brave.” Theatrical flourishes abound, among them the restaurant’s enameled-lava-stone bar and glossy ceiling, which bounce light across the room. Also in the mix of artist interventions are salt and pepper shakers in the spirit of Paul McCarthy and chairs by Matthew Day Jackson.
In Mount St. Restaurant, chairs by Matthew day Jackson and a mosaic floor installation by Rashid Johnson.
Three private levels nod to the Wirths’ homelands and countries of residence. Custom tartans by weaver Araminta Campbell wrap the Scottish Room, for which artisan Kelvin Murray has crafted a magnificent 26-seat oak table in collaboration with David Linley, the second Earl of Snowdon, and Gareth Guy has created a dramatic antler chandelier. For the Swiss Room, spectacular parquet floors by decorative artist Ian Harper pay homage to the Vertical-Horizontal Compositions of Sophie Taeuber-Arp. The Italian Room’s soft hues and ornate details evoke a Venetian palazzo.
Art covers the walls and floor in the light-filled Mount St. Restaurant.
Ultimately, Laplace explains, the Wirths’ aim is to bring people together. “Manuela and Iwan are food people. They love friends. They love to do all these things beyond just art.” He references Kronenhalle, Zurich’s famous 1920s bustling brasserie by Robert Haussmann, filled with famous artworks by Giacometti, Chagall, and Braque, as a point of comparison. “I always said to Iwan and Manuela, ‘You have to do the Kronenhalle of our time,’” reflects Laplace. “The Audley can be a new version of its spirit. It’s not a restaurant just for the sake of having a restaurant. It’s a meaningful gathering space.”
The Swiss Room, set for a meal.
In the Swiss Room, an Ian Harper floor inspired by Sophie Taeuber-Arp.