Last week, the Royal Academy of Arts unveiled a revamped Academicians' Room as a private club for its esteemed members. Opened ahead of the London institution's highly anticipated Ai Weiwei exhibition, the exclusive room, located in the RA's Keeper’s House, is a grand Palladian space originally designed by Norman Shaw (RA, of course) in 1883.
Faced with the daunting task of creating a befitting space for the Royal Academicians (a discerning band of elected UK painters, sculptors, architects and printmakers) as well as their guests and members, was Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, who chose to implement a refined scheme modelled on the traditional drawing room.
‘Our inspiration was guided largely by the original Norman Shaw room,' explains the studio's eponymous founder. 'With its perfect Palladian proportions, fine paintings adorning the walls and light cascading from above, it felt like your quintessential English drawing room.'
Building upon the room's existing grandiose architectural detailing, the studio have filled the space with carefully sourced vintage furnishings to create an ambience that Brudnizki describes as an 'haute-bohemian feeling'. Highlights include 1960s library chairs in tanned leather, mid-century Italian chairs upholstered in dark green mohair, and 1950s and 60s floor lamps, all arranged across a colourful Mamluk rug.
In the centre of the space, a pair of red corner mohair sofas, designed in-house by the studio, curve into an S-shape; a four-metre-long green mohair sofa that sits at the far end of the room is also a bespoke piece by MBDS.
On the walls, a rotating display of new works from Royal Academicians such as Grayson Perry, Tracey Emin and Allen Jones instantaneously make this space the most exclusive art gallery in the city. ‘The Academicians’ Room at the Royal Academy will be the place to see and be seen in,' says restaurateur Oliver Peyton, whose company Peyton and Byrne will be managing the catering for the new space. 'Martin Brudnizki Design Studio has designed a beautiful setting that will bring together like minded people from across the arts world.'