Vendôme Mayfair
  Club: Vendôme Mayfair
  From: Night Magazine October 2008 Issue
  Date: October 2008


Mayfair’s new club Vendôme is not a venue for fickle wannabe socialites, but for the real VIPs – the people that the wannabes want to be: models, fashion designers, celebrities and probably even the odd royal. But far from encouraging self exposure, Vendôme brings us back to the heart of partying. Following the success of the award-winning Vendôme on Walton Street, which won best new bar at the London club and bar awards 2008, consultant Freddie Frampton embarked on a design mission to “bring back the dancefloor” through Vendôme, located on the former Pangaea site.

London’s burgeoning VIP scene, coupled with a tough economic climate, renders the late night trade a competitive arena in the UK. Exclusive leisure venues in the capital must carve out a niche in order to retain loyal, high spending customers. In the last decade London’s West End has seen a substantial growth in the minimalist designed “high end“ nightclubs, frequented by guests who like to see and be seen, can often be at the expense of actually having a great time. In the mid-nineties, the launch of venues such as the iconic Atlantic Bar and Grill, Momo’s Kemia bar, the Met bar and Saint, killed the dancefloor by encouraging guests to groove around the tables.

The 280-capacity Vendôme nightclub, which launched on 17 September, attempts to revive the atmosphere of the clubs of old by gravitating around a central LED video dancefloor, which circles a rotating DJ booth. This is one of the logistically intricate masterpieces of main contractor KLC and interiors guru Paul Daly; one is left wondering: how does a DJ booth continually rotate without twisting all the attached wires beneath?

The judicious and astute nature of its target clientele was evidently a pre-cursor for a venue lovingly carved with acute attention to detail and an eye for original design. Director Freddie Frampton oversaw the project fastidiously, vetoing several designs right up to the deadline to ensure Vendôme was exactly to taste. Under immense pressure, beginning in June and making last minute changes until the eleventh hour, KLC and Paul Daly, along with an unusually cluttered list of contractors, have delivered an exquisite nightclub.

The debut partnership of Paul Daly and KLC saw the fusion of creative expertise that was pivotal in the venue’s behind the scenes and front of house success. KLC has the added advantage of its design experience as GMP, so the duo collaborated with the joint priority of creating an entirely bespoke venue of the highest quality design. Said KLC’s Neil Morten: “Together we are a mega designer and designer-friendly contractor. There aren’t many contractors with our skill set and to be able to work so closely with a designer and help him craft his vision is unique. I’ve also had four nightclubs of my own and I’m an ex-DJ so that enables me to talk on a level with all the sub-contractors.”

KLC offers a turnkey solution to operators of VIP leisure venues, through initial consultation, design, construction, commissioning and end user training. Its Staffordshire offices house both design and build workshops, as does its base in Bangkok and its new offices in Dubai, where it is steadily making a name for itself. Neil commented: “We were the builder on the Vendôme project, but we’re a lot more than that because the synergy between us and Paul was fantastic. We learnt from each other. He has really pushed the boundaries in terms of design; one of the seating areas had eight subcontractors working on it – glass, upholstery, joinery, electrics, specialist electrics, signage, steel...and you’ve got to make sure they’re in on time and coordinate everything, and that’s what we did.” With no on site parking, and a small staircase leading down to the club, Vendôme presented a huge logistical challenge. Explained Neil: “The hardest thing was building the ring doughnut bar. We tried to make it in eight weeks, which was virtually impossible because they wanted it in stainless steel. We couldn’t get it down the stairs, so everything had to be manufactured off site, then broken down into little parts, brought down the stairs and reassembled on site.”

Paul has been highly influential in creating venues that consistently attract a diverse crowd from creative types to those in the Square Mile. Projects include Harlem in Notting Hill, Bison and Bird in Clapham and Mary Janes in Minories, London. He said: “I was asked to do this venue when the economy was turning but you cannot keep a good club down. And Vendôme Mayfair is a great club. Proper interior design actually reinvents space and this is a perfect example of reclaiming space after years of bad design. In X-Factor the average person knows if somebody is singing out of tune, but in design, the average person does not. If reinvention is what is needed, and not just lipstick, then design can do this. Vendôme Mayfair is a real design job for a real designer with a real budget. It is not a refit – it is a reinvention.”

Upon entering the club, guests are met by a futuristic/’70s look and feel that is distinctly Renaissance with peach tinged bevelled mirrored walls and an ornate 16th Century reception desk. They then descend past more mirrors down a staircase featuring faux snakeskin banisters. The opening night at Vendôme saw top models strut their stuff around the revolving DJ booth on a video interactive dancefloor (supplied by Lighting Effects Distribution and installed by Over Audio) that can display film footage, graphic effects or logos – a feature that cost over a quarter of a million pounds. The technology installation was also intricate; the rotating DJ booth demanded wireless DMX, the high design focus required Sound Ceiling’s “invisible” speakers that are hidden behind a Barrisol mirrored seamless ceiling, and the emphasis on good music meant Viba Sound implemented a state-of-the-art Nexo speaker system.

To the left of the dancefloor are a series of six VIP booths that seat 12 people, each unique, and each embodying a different brand, including a Belvedere booth by Jade Jagger, up and coming fashion brand Core, and Dom Perignon – an exclusive for the champagne house to host an area within the club. The Angel booth features a beautiful white angel figure hanging over the seating.

Over to the other side of the club is an eight metre long bar, which has a granite transformation’s top and an intricate coil of fibre optics installed behind smoked grey glass. Paul spoke of the synergy of the space: “The disk jockey is the Sun; the ring-bar is Saturn; the main bar is the Milky Way; the entrance is the Exosphere. Vendôme is out of space, in outer space. The specifics are irrelevant - view it as a whole, but most of all have fun on the dancefloor and it is cool again to be the idiot.”

The drinks list reflects the ‘70s retro/futuristic vibe, with some old classic favourites and some molecular mixology. Freddie, who has guest DJ’d worldwide from Ibiza to Moscow, has been integral to the music policy. He explains: “If commercial house is to the right and more underground to the left, then we lean 20 degrees each way. Think a little education with a lot of smile!”

Music is not the only education brought about by Vendôme; the venue breaks new ground with its debut designs, bespoke works of art and intelligent technology. Closed Neil: “My first impression of the project was that it was mad - in a nice way, because it really pushed the boundaries. There’s so much to the club - so many personalities involved, so many one off designs.” Vendôme is a rich tapestry of creative minds and one that looks set to capture the cool crowd for a long time to come.

Words: Rachel Esson
Images: Alistair Payne, Jim Ellam
From: Night Magazine October 2008 Issue




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