The Sanderson, London

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Entrance to the Sanderson, picture by Morgans Group LLC, from the Sanderson.

JE and myself had the privilege of staying at the Sanderson hotel in London when we were there earlier this year.

Upon entering the hotel

The Sanderson opened on 25 April 2000 and after a great success of St. Martins Lane, Ian Schrager again teamed up with Philippe Starck to create, what to me is a fairly eccentric hotel with an ecclectic mix of too much money and not knowing what to do with it, although they have phrased it rather differently in this article. A quote from the article:

In a world where style is knocked off and mass-marketed at the speed of light, Schrager is keeping alive those most endangered of artistic species: experimentation, risk-taking, innovation and originality. Sanderson is all about charm, poetry, excess, glamour and elegance. It is an ironic combination – a balancing act – between extravagance and simplicity.

While I do agree on the originality of the idea of the design at the Sanderson, the “balancing act” as mentioned above, came across as none too well executed since the putting together of the pieces of art / furniture came across more as an indecision than statement purposeful.

The lobby at the Sanderson, picture by Morgans Group LLC.

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The ’60s murals and mosaics clashed specifically with the enormous and out of place Louis XV armoire. Set that right next to the African chair, an etched Venetian mirror and you hardly get sophisticated but rather, confused. Something that is most definitely difficult to categorize and impossible to define. One could almost get a headache out of looking at all the fantastic furnishings that would have indeed cost quite a bit to procure.

Another view of the lobby at the Sanderson, picture by Morgans Group LLC.

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Along the floaty white walls of the lobby on the far end, hangs this design feature, the Bubble Chair. This feature I actually liked because it looked fun and inviting.

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Picture by Morgans Group LLC.

In fact, I couldn’t help myself but sit and swing it it for awhile.

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Picture of myself and Lachmi, a previous school mate of mine whom I’ve known since I was 13.

The story of the Bubble Chair

The “bubble chair” was initially intended to be the telephone chair for the Finnish designer Eero Aarnio. The Bubble Chair (Bing Bong), designed in 1968, is made of Acrylic and Chromed plated steel.

The reason why the bubble chair hangs from the ceiling is, as Eero makes clear:

There is no nice way to make a clear pedestal”. Once again Eero designed a chair which swallows up and isolates the seated person, providing a sense of isolation even in a room full of people.

Bing Bong was the name given by Asko. The American importer Charles Stendig called it Bubble chair.

There is a big 70’s revivals and Aarnio’s furniture has become fashionable once more.

Quote from Eero Aarnio:

The idea of the chair was very obvious. We had moved to our first home and I had started my free-lance career in 1962. We had a home but no proper big chair, so I decided to make one, but some way a really new one. After some drawing I noticed that the shape of the chair had become so simple that it was merely a ball. I pinned the full scale drawing on the wall and ‚sat’ in the chair to see how my head would move when sitting inside it. Being the taller one of us I ‚sat’ in the chair and my wife drew the course of my head on the wall. This is how I determined the height of the chair. Since I aimed at a ball shape, the other lines were easy to draw, just remembering that the chair would have to fit through a doorway. After this I made the first prototype myself using an inside mould, which has been made using the same principle as a glider fuselage or wing. I covered the plywood body mould with wet paper and laminated the surface with fiberglass, rubbed down the outside, removed the mould from inside, had it upholstered and added the leg. In the end I installed the red telephone on the inside wall of the chair. The naming part of the chair was easy, the BALL CHAIR was born.

The room

A picture of a room at the Sanderson

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Picture by Morgans Group LLC.

While the furnishings in the lobby could have well given me a headache. I thought the lounge, new-age elavator music that accompanied us right to our room was perfect for the mid-afternoon check-in.

Upon entering the room, I was personally floored by the design and layout of the area. It was indeed one of the most stylish hotel rooms I have ever been in and the entire setting was distinctly more harmonious than the horrendous clashings in the lobby.

Sleek metallic side tables, with glass walls separating the bed from the bathrooms, sleek showers and wash basin. Beautiful to the eye.

A picture of the bathroom with its glass walls and glass compartments to place your belongings.

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Picture by Morgans Group LLC.

I thought it clever that they should hang the picture on the ceiling instead of the walls of the room since the best place to be contemplating a painting is indeed when you’re lying in bed. So, first thing I did was to drape myself over the bed, since the entire room looked built for the single purpose of rest. And possibly, good sex, rounded off with the calm contemplation of the painting on the ceiling.

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But it was all too soon that I began to realize how unpractical these designer items around us were. For one thing, the bed is always made up with a draping shawl over one corner. For what purpose would that serve since it would cost more than £100 if you removed it and took it home as a souvenir. I never wanted that shawl on the floor or at my feet so I perpetually removed it from the bed to prevent it from getting stained or torn from stepping all over it.

The other thing that irritated me was the little round metal clock that kept rolling off the sleek metal table at every touch of the side table. In the picture of me on the bed, you’ll notice to the right of the picture a clean and empty metal table? That’s because the clock had already rolled OFF IT as I plunked myself on the bed for the photo taking! So if you sat down just a tad rough on the bed, the clock would roll of the table and smack itself onto the floor. In the span of 7 minutes, I had that little clock roll off the side table three times. I eventually had to put that clock flat on its face to prevent it from rolling off the table once again. And having done that, I could hardly tell the time anymore.

While I was fine with the glass walls separating the bed and the bathroom, JE was obviously not becoming friends with the posh glass panels that were finely covered with chiffon like curtains. At first, all I heard was how he complained that he could never tell curtain from wall and thus kept bumping into the wall. And then I heard it – THUUNG!! – he had really bumped himself silly, walking straight into the glass wall, where he thought it was just curtain. Evil as it may seem, I nearly rolled off the bed laughing at the sound of him bumping into the glass wall.

It also didn’t take us long to realize, in our first shower, that it was totally impossible to turn on the tap or the shower if you had soapy hands. Your hands would simply slip and slide all around the all too sleek cylindrical handle to the shower and washbasin with no effect.

A kinky feature that I liked about the shower was how it is so strategically placed in height, aiming at “the middle kingdom” if you just stood there, naked. This feature, was discovered by JE who shrieked to high heaven when he first turned on the shower with COLD WATER.

The next morning, at about 7 am, we were headed out for breakfast and the alternative, lounge, new-age music was STILL playing. Now that gave me another headache of sorts. Least they could do was to stick to lounge music, a softer kind of lounge music.

But we did have fun

But with all our misgivings about the Sanderson and some unfortunate experiences, I wouldn’t say that our stay at the Sanderson was a total negative.

The customer service was good, though they seemed to open the door more for JE than me. And one could really get used to the oddities of design at the Sanderson. For one thing, this Salvador Dali red lips sofa, is a softer kiss ass furniture than the one at the V&A I sat on during my last visit to London in June, 2007.

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I also had my fun on what I call, “the long couch” in the lobby.

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There were distinctly some areas in the Sanderson I particularly liked and one of those would be the Courtyard Garden. It had a perfect ambience of quiet and relax, a place to have drinks and mingle at one’s own time.

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And the billiard room which featured a purple billiard table. Yummy! It was in here that JE and I spent some time to escape the crowd from the Long Bar on a Saturday night.

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Picture from Morgans Group LLC

Will we go back to the Sanderson?

At the current rate for a room here I think we would kindly pass on the urban spa hotel and go for the Ritz. We could perhaps drop in the Long Bar / Courtyard Garden for a drink when next we’re in London.

Note:
All official pictures belong to Morgans Group LLC. taken from the official Sanderson website.
All personal pictures were taken by JE on a Sony Ericsson i810 mobile phone.