Rundell Associates gives Harrods’ fine watch room a majestic marble makeover
In April, Harrods unveiled Martin Brudnizki Design Studio’s refurbishment of its wine rooms, and last month, it opened the doors of its colour-coded toy department revamped by Farshid Moussavi. Now, as its interior design overhaul progresses, the London department store has unveiled its new fine watch rooms; a 1,667sq m space comprising ten boutiques, VIP suites and an aftercare department. This significant space has been masterminded by London-based Rundell Associates.
‘Each department of Harrods has a very strong character, so it was crucial to create a special atmosphere in the new fine watch rooms, to set it apart from the other glorious spaces,’ says Mike Rundell, principal of the architect and design practice. When designing the rooms, he delved into Harrods’ architectural archive, noting that the fine watch floor once housed the footings of the department store’s never-completed tower – a design which also included a light well.
An ovular domed lighting feature, with markings evoking the hours and minutes of a clock, nods to this secret history. It is also placed above the most magnificent element of the space, a staircase with a back wall constructed from a single block of rare Cipollino Tirrenia marble, its homogenous veins creating a pattern akin to a ‘very grand wallpaper’.
‘We wanted to create a spatial experience where customers could delight in the look and feel of the materials,’ says Rundell. As well as the sinuous marble detailing, the space nods to luxury materials used in horology design. The ground floor’s mother-of-pearl-flecked terrazzo is inlaid with bronze strips, while the handrails of the staircase balustrades are finished in leather, evoking watch-strap skins.
The leather was selected from Spanish tanneries. ‘We wanted a pale leather, so it was important it should not mark when touched,’ says Rundell. ‘Nor should it have too much sheen’. He looked to London leather specialist Bill Amberg Studio for the final stitching and embossing.
The result is a conscious, appropriate space designed to reflect the rare world of fine watches and up-to-the minute, meticulous design.