Brit design star Lee Broom is the talent behind the marble-chic interiors of new London bar and restaurant Old Tom & English
BY SOPHIE DAVIES
British designer Lee Broom – aka Mr Marble – is a dab hand with grainy stone. During September’s London Design Festival, the only thing hotter than his hedonistic rooftop party at the Ace Hotel London Shoreditch was the elegant ‘Nouveau Rebel’ show at his Electra House boutique nearby. Marble lighting was the scene-stealer, especially the LED-lit Carrara marble 'Tube' lights, shaped like fluorescent strip lights but glowing with glamour.
Now Broom is behind the marble-chic interior design of new Soho cocktail lounge and restaurant Old Tom & English. Named after an 18th-century gin recipe (the spirit du jour), this reservation-only watering-hole is the brainchild of siblings Costas and Maria Constantinou, who collaborated with him on previous local venue The Arts Theatre Club.
Drawing on honest, traditional materials, Broom wanted to create a contemporary take on Sixties home entertaining, as if you’ve just swung by a mate’s stylish apartment for a sociable dinner or killer cocktail party. Solid oak ‘One Light Only’ pendants and slatted oak vertical panelling add to the retro vibe. Sofas and ottomans are a subtle grey, while hits of brass and red on lounge chairs and carpet up the ante.
But it’s sensual marble that rules at this sultry space, starting from the seductive marble 'Chamber' pendant lights suspended above the marble-topped, multi-level bar. A bespoke, post-modern marble fireplace surround dominates the main lounge, flanked by more marble care of sleek ‘Tube' lights, curvy coffee tables and 'Fulcrum' candlesticks. Broom’s sculptural crystal and marble ‘Globe' lights add to the mix of circular and geometric forms and signature cocktails are served in crystal ‘On The Rock’ glassware, boasting tactile marble bases.
“Marble features throughout in lighting, furniture and right through to the barware and tableware,” says Broom. “It’s a dream project for a designer and I believe it will be a real gem for Soho.” The bar is also a homage to Soho's naughty red light heritage, with rooms named after famous London madams and prostitutes, including Cynthia, Lulu and Nell.
Loungelovers in search of sin can sink into extended ‘Quilt’ sofas (originally for Heal's), while eagle-eyed design fans will spot bespoke updates of Broom's hero pieces the ‘Decanterlight’ and ‘Crystal Bulb’ recreated with new cuts.
Access to the basement venue is secret speakeasy style – buzz the bell at the heavy wooden door, then enter via a covert lobby. Inside, take your pick from pews in the bar, lounge or five vaulted cloisters, ideal for clandestine trysts or private quaffing. Drink aficionados can enjoy customised cocktails; foodies can expect twists on trad English dishes at intimate tables.
Each space within Old Tom & English has its own dedicated drinks service, such as a bar cart, revolving cocktail cabinet or vintage sideboard, from which waiters finesse your order (one even offers a surprise hatch to the bar). “I thought about the kind of personal service I like to receive, and the theatre of creating drinks in front of you or presenting food in a way which considers its interior, like you would at home,” says Broom. "The design has been created around those elements and much like the service informs the design, the design of the interior influences the service." Make ours a Martini...
Photographs: Luke Hayes