An eclectic design history at Sanderson London

Sanderson Hotel

An original, surrealist 1970s red lips ‘Bocca’ sofa by Edra (opposite top), Pierre Paulin’s 1960s ‘Yellow Tongue’ chair and some charming dog portraits (opposite bottom) are just some of the whimsical design touches in the Philippe Starck-imagined Sanderson London hotel. Take a walk around to be transported to a “dream-like world”, says general manager Kelly Morgan of its aura. “Starck even purchased a Tom Sachs ‘Chanel Chainsaw’ from New York to place in the entrance.”

There’s a design legacy to the Sanderson that some may not be aware of. The Grade II*-listed modernist building, built in 1958 and designed by Jeff Holroyd of Slater Uren Architects, was originally the HQ and showroom for Sanderson Textiles. (It was, Morgan notes, one of the first buildings in London “to have a ‘curtain wall exterior’”.)

In line with this rich design history, each piece in the hotel is curated. “Philippe Starck made sure to include repurposed items, speaking to our sustainable approach but also to his own mantra of ‘things don’t have to be new to be beautiful’,” Morgan continues. If the branded power tool at the entrance doesn’t grab your attention, the retro furniture and artworks that fill the rest of the space will. Included are mosaics by Jupp Dernbach-Mayen, a hanging bubble chair, and decorative motifs from the 17th century – each corner of the hotel is utterly eclectic.

“The multicultural nature of London means creativity is found in every corner – restaurant openings, in exhibitions, in street art, but also in everyday life,” says Morgan of why they’re keen to reveal the narratives behind the designs inside the hotel. Back in 2019, the Sanderson celebrated the festive season with the work of London-based designer Yinka Ilori, who created a specially commissioned geometric Christmas ‘tree’ – made up of five colourful sculptures imbued with the hotel’s whimsical aesthetic.

The hotel’s permanent features are just as thrilling as the temporary installations. ‘A jewel box in a doll’s house’ was the starting concept of the Purple Bar, which holds an outré Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. But if it’s peace and quiet you’re after, head outside to the courtyard and experience a serene Japanese garden and its bamboo accents, a giant bonsai tree and black pebbles. Variety really is all.