Wood from a felled street tree and reclaimed architectural timber from a salvage yard form the furniture in two hotel suites that designer Jan Hendzel revamped for London’s Town Hall Hotel in time for the London Design Festival.
Suites 109 and 111 are located on the first floor in Town hall hotelwhich is housed in a converted Grade II listed town hall in Bethnal Green dating back to 1910.
Each of the apartment-style suites has a living room with kitchen next to a bedroom and en-suite, which Hendzel is equipped with custom-made furniture. Like all of the furniture maker’s pieces, these are made entirely from British timber.
But for his first interior project, Hendzel took an even more hyperlocal approach, aiming to find all the necessary products inside the M25 – the motorway that encircles the British capital.
“We started with the idea that we could buy everything in London,” he told Dezeen during a tour of the suites.
“Some timber has come from Denmark Hill, some has been reclaimed from Shoreditch. And we used Pickleson paintwhich is a company right around the corner, literally two minutes from here.”
The reclaimed lumber came in the form of pine rafters and columns that Hendzel found at an architectural salvage yard.
These had to be scanned with a metal detector to remove any nails or screws so they could be machined into side tables and tactile steel-brushed domes used to decorate the suites’ coffee tables.
In Suite 111, both the dining table and the rippled kitchen fronts are made from one of the many sycamore trees that line the capital’s streets, giving them the nickname the London plane.
“This London plane is super special because it comes from a tree that was picked up outside Denmark Hill train station in Camberwell,” explained Hendzel. “We couldn’t find timber from Bethnal Green, but it’s the closest we could get.”
For other pieces, materials had to be sourced from further afield – although all are either made in Britain or by British brands.
Hendzel used British ash and elm to create mirrors and benches with intricate hand-carved grooves for the suites, while the patterned carpets in the living spaces come from West London Studio A Rome Fellow via Nepal.
“People in Britain don’t make carpets, so you have to go further afield,” Hendzel said. “Same with the upholstery fabrics. You could get them here, but if they’re quadruple your budget, it’s out of reach.”
Hendzel’s goal with the decor was to create a calm, subdued version of a hotel room, removing all the “extras” and instead creating interest through rich textural contrasts.
This is especially evident in the custom-made furniture, which will now become part of his studio’s permanent collection.
Among them is the Wharf coffee table with its reclaimed wood domes, worked with a wire brush to reveal the intricate veins of old wood and offset against a naturally rippled table top.
“It’s a genetic defect of the tree, but it makes it extra special and catches your eye,” Hendzel said.
The coffee table, like the neighboring Peng dining chair, is finished with faceted knife-drawn edges reminiscent of traditional stone carving techniques. But while the table has a matte finish, the chair is finished with beeswax so its facets will reflect the light.
Unexpected details such as loose tongue joints, typically used to make tables, characterize the Mowlavi sofa and armchair, while circular dowels draw attention to the wedge joint that holds their frames together.
In addition to the bespoke pieces, Hendzel incorporated existing furniture such as the chest of drawers from his Bowater collection presented at LDF in 2020. Its distinctive undulating exterior was also translated into headboards for the bedrooms and cabinet fronts for the kitchens.
These are paired with crinoid marble countertops from Mandala Quarry in Derby, with rough-hewn edges offset against a perfectly smooth surface, revealing the fossils calcified within.
“It’s a kajillion years old, and it has all these creatures from many moons ago that have fallen into the mud and died,” Hendzel said. “But then when they get polished up, they kind of look like Ren and Stimpy.”
Going forward, Town Hall Hotel plans to recruit other local designers to overhaul the remaining 94 rooms.
Other installations on display as part of LDF this year include a collection of rotating public seating made from blocks of granite by designer Sabine Marcelis and an exhibition of “sympathetic repairs” to sentimental objects such as the V&A museum.
The photography is off Fergus Coyle.
London Design Festival 2022 takes place from the 17th-25th September 2022. See our London Design Festival 2022 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information on the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place during the week.