It’s that time of year again for Pimm’s and lemonade, strawberries and cream, and the familiar purple and green of the oldest and arguably the most famous tennis tournament, The Championships, Wimbledon. Hosted by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), it is the only Grand Slam still played on grass. As one of the most prestigious events in the sporting calendar, the brief to design the interiors for The Champions’ Room was focused on creating an enjoyable and unique customer journey.
The Champions’ Room is the exclusive hospitality venue for the debenture holders at Wimbledon to provide an elegant and relaxing break with fine dining or afternoon tea. The restaurant has prime views of Courts 14 and 15, with the excitement on the hill just beyond. SHH Architecture & Interior Design (SHH) was commissioned by the AELTC as consultant to design and deliver fresh, elegant interiors in keeping with the guests and purpose of such a prestigious venue. The team created design concepts for the entire guest experience. Starting from the entry point, from the style of the interiors to the design of the tableware, they created a complete portrait for the restaurant in finite detail.
The existing entrance into the room was plain and restricted, and did not represent the calibre of the venue on offer. The team felt this sense of arrival crucial to the design, so re-configured the space, replaced the front door and commissioned a leather-wrapped door handle (like that on an old style tennis racquet) and created a beautiful, glazed, branded reception area, so guests would have a welcoming experience. New seating, a bespoke meet and greet desk, and beautiful flower displays have transformed the awkward space into an executive-style lounge.
As the space required flexibility for multiple chair configurations and various functions, SHH wanted to focus on revising areas that were not practical and create specific focal points with elegant refinement rather than construct an entirely new space. The team designed full-length timber scotia detail to cover unsightly areas, while integrating electric switches; this wooden feature continues to wrap the walls to add texture and durability. To ensure the matches are available for viewing but not to distraction, columns were built to house AV equipment. Rather than replace the ceilings, a clever baffle ceiling system was added to hide track lighting but allow accessibility for repairs and compliment the natural daylight.
The overall colour scheme for the room ensured a ‘nod’ to the iconic Championships. Carpet tiles in rich purple cover the floor with bar and serving areas created in stunning deep green marble sourced from Italy. Bespoke shelving was made in brass with movable parts to create flexibility for displays. To make the bar area more of a main feature, it was brought forward and organised into sections to create easier movement for the staff. To showcase the signature fresh seafood offer or strawberries and cream for afternoon tea, a beautiful buffet unit was designed incorporating a plumbed ice well, inset into a single piece of crackled lava stone.
In conjunction with British furniture craftsmen, Morgan’s, SHH designed bespoke dining chairs with rattan backs, purple leather straps with brass buckle aspects and leather cushions. Bringing the prestigious brand subtly into the details was done through the design of new crockery glassware and cutlery with a bespoke charger plate, napkins and menus. SHH also worked with the on-site museum to create walls of photography showcasing previous champions, displayed in floating brass frames.
The entire space was designed to create a wonderful customer experience – a true Wimbledon day out. This was reflected in the refinement of the space, exquisite details and subtle use of colour to reflect Wimbledon’s ethos and prestigious event it celebrates. Preparing and agreeing the finer details from the start allowed the project to run smoothly, within budget and delivered on time for the 2016 Championships.
Photography Credit: Adam Woodward and Alastair Lever
Project fact file
Lead Designer: SHH Architecture & Interior Design
About The Championships, Wimbledon: The AELTC is a wholly owned subsidiary of The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club Limited (“the Club”) and, on 1 August 2011, acquired all the assets and undertaking of the Club in relation to The Championships.
About SHH: Founded in 1991 by David Spence, Graham Harris and Neil Hogan, SHH Architecture & Interior Design is a London-based practice that is dedicated to working in commercial, residential and sports venue fields with integrity, intelligence and flair.
Providing expertise in architecture and interiors ranging from hospitality environments in large arenas to Super Prime homes and luxurious residential development. SHH thinks commercially as well as creatively.
The team comprises 50 talented individuals from around the globe, who bring rich diversity in thinking and creative design.
Recent hospitality projects include: restaurants at ExCeL London, Ascot Racecourse Parade Ring Restaurant, Wimbledon Media Room and the new Terrace Restaurant at London Zoo. The practice has won numerous awards over the 25 years of designing beautiful spaces.
For further information, visit: www.shh.co.uk