Guests in London’s cultural salon
Aug 25, 2015

London’s “Spring” restaurant in “Somerset House” not only has many a tempting epicurean delight, but is a real titbit in terms of design, too. Milanese design and contemporary art combine on a historical basis, quite literally. As Australian interior designer Briony Fitzgerald chose to use only high-quality materials for the rooms, such as Dinesen oak floor boards that are made with wood which is almost 200 years old.

Somerset House was built in 1776 in a Classicist vein and is today considered one of the prime office addresses in London. With it countless spaces for exhibitions, dance performances and concerts, the impressive ensemble is also a major event location in the British capital. In early 2015 a hitherto unused wing was refurbished and now serves as a restaurant: In the chic salon and the adjacent atrium with its olive trees, chef Sarah Flyckt dishes up many a delicacy. The interior designer preserved large parts of the original building, so the mood is set by snow-white pillars and high windows with rounded arches. And refreshing zeitgeist is delivered in the form Mario Bellini’s “Cab Chairs” in camel-brown leather and a wall installation by Brazilian artist Valeria Nascimento, who has a “swarm” of wafer-thin of porcelain butterflies waft across the wall.

The restaurant is so friendly, bright and inviting above all thanks to the harmonious color gradations: tender beiges, grays and rose tones which give the salon a feminine note. Fitzgerald emphasized the use of natural materials, such as leather, copper, marble and wood, because they so strongly convey a sense of plain elegance. For the floor, the choice was sturdy Dinesen floor boards from the “Heartoak” series. They fit the ambiance perfectly and with their unusual widths of up to 50 centimeters and a length of up to six meters point up the spacious, warm and high-grade feel of the premises. The surface of the boards has been treated with white oil, meaning the wood shimmers brightly and combines perfectly with the colors of the walls and ceilings. And their beauty also stems from the details: tiny tears, resin deposits and individual grains lend the floor a slight albeit unobtrusive texture.


Somerset House in London is the cultural heart of the capital, with dance performances and countless art exhibitions. The Classicist building next to Waterloo Bridge as designed in 1776 by architect Sir William Chambers. Photo © Dinesen

Lucullian delights and contemporary art in the “Spring” restaurant: The flower painting by artist Emma Peascod with its gold and silver patina is a real eye-catcher. Photo © Dinesen

The original backbone to the building was in part preserved during modernization. Milanese Mario Bellini’s leather-covered “Chab Chairs” bring a breath of fresh air into the old interior. Photo © Dinesen

Briony Fitzgerald chose only superior materials, such as wood, leather, stone and copper. The Dinesen floor boards from the “HeartOak” line are up to 200 years old and give a homely feel to the salon. Photo © Dinesen