Somerset House, one of London’s major cultural institutions, is now home to the brand new café and bar Pennethorne’s. Situated on the west face of the neoclassical building, looking out onto Lancaster Place and Waterloo Bridge, the new day-to-night venue has been named after Sir James Pennethorne — the highly-reputed architect of the 19th century who was responsible for Somerset House’s ‘New Wing’ (which now houses the café/bar) as well as other landmarks in London. As was the case with so many people of his era who travelled around Europe on what were then known as ‘European Grand Tours’, Sir James did the same to discover the architecture of countries such as France, Italy and Spain in the early 19th century. Clearly influenced by what he saw, this piece of history has also inspired the interior design as well as the menu at the new café.
SHH, the studio behind the venue’s branding and interior design, has done a great job in referencing the story of Sir James and the era he lived in but with a modern twist. Under the venue’s inky blue walls stand furniture in dark wood and bronze and a mix of new pieces and vintage finds, while a custom-made banquette in leather and navy blue velvet runs along the wall under the high windows that open out onto Lancaster Place. The elongated space is divided by a wall which has been covered with no less than 50 cameos of Sir James, each 25 cm high and an exact copy of the architect’s portrait. Visit Pennethorne’s Cafe Bar for freshly brewed coffee, beer, artisanal bakery items and eclectic small dining plates — ideally after a visit to one of Somerset House’s must-see exhibitions!
About the designers:
SHH is an architects’ practice and interior design consultancy, formed in 1991 by its three principals: Chairman David Spence, Managing Director Graham Harris and Creative Director Neil Hogan. With a highly international workforce and portfolio, the company initially made its name in ultra-high-end residential schemes, before extending its expertise to include hospitality and workspace schemes. SHH has won or been shortlisted for over 90 creative awards for its projects across three continents and its work appears several times a week in leading global design and lifestyle publications. In 2014 the company was named Interior Design Practice of the Year Award at the 2014 FX International Interior Design Awards and Best Large Design Studio at the London Design Awards 2014.
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