Luigi Esposito of Oro Bianco Interior Design transformed a London penthouse into a jewel of a residence in record time.
In 2011, a South Asian businessman who wanted a home base for his family, all in their 30s or older, fell in love with the Old Park Lane location of a London penthouse apartment. Prior renovations boxed what remained of period architectural details behind faux walls and ceilings but preserved the apartment relatively well. The new homeowners called on Luigi Esposito and his team at Oro Bianco Interior Design, London, to turn the two-storey heritage apartment into a modern, bejewelled grande dame. The clients had just one condition: the apartment must be turn-key ready in time for the 2012 UK Summer Olympics, 11 months away.
To meet the clients’ specifications, Esposito tore away the palimpsest of earlier construction and began from the bones. Bedrooms required ensuites, floor plans needed redrawing and window positions demanded preserving to satisfy a strict heritage mandate placed on the building, once the tallest in Piccadilly after it was built in 1904. Furniture needed sourcing and the restoration of exquisite artistic details called for extra attention.“That was the fastest project I have ever done at that scale and that rich in details,” Esposito told Taste of Life with a shake of his head. One year after completion, the project still invokes the anxiety of a close call. “Opening day of the Olympics, we delivered the keys.”
The family thanked Esposito and his team with a cocktail reception in their honour. It was the first of many parties in the 4-bedroom, 7,800 square foot flat with a spectacular view of London’s skyline. “The clients have a very active social life while in London,” Esposito says. “The son, a recent MBA graduate, is there most often and we designed the top floor specifically to his requirements. It’s a mix between a gentlemen’s club and a nightclub, very different than the rest of the home. The parents stay there about three times per year, a couple of weeks at a time before heading off to New York or Mumbai, India.”
It’s a whirlwind, jet-set lifestyle. Which is why the mother of the household requested that this dwelling’s lobby, drawing room, dining room, and living room perform double duty: grand entertaining space when interior French doors are open, but a “proper family home where they can relax together” day to day.
“Classical proportions, historic windows, doors and balconies make a strong design statement,” Esposito points out, a statement the family welcomed. But they didn’t want it to feel old-fashioned. New and old provide balance. There is a 30,000 piece mosaic of semi-precious stone inlaid into marble in the master bathroom, an 18-person dining table intricately crafted from exotic woods, and hand-painted glass panels by Gorman Studios of Vancouver in the main corridor and upstairs. Antiques are the main characters of each social room. “We were always trying to select something very exotic, very beautiful and unique and then bring a new design to comfortably sit next to it, bring character and soul to that historical building but make it present-day.”
If interior design were an Olympic sport, Oro Bianco would have enjoyed a podium finish. We’re not sure which we would enjoy more: the Olympic Games or two weeks in that home on Old Park Lane.