Donovan Bar’s New Design – Capturing the Essence of a Famous Photographer

July 19, 2018

Donovan Bar in Mayfair is one of those bars in London that everyone you speak to has heard of – well anyone who’s cool enough anyway.  Celebrating the great fashion photographer Sir Terence Donovan, if the walls could talk, we’re pretty sure they’d have some extremely cool stories to tell.

Part of Brown’s Hotel, Donovan Bar has always been known for its classic design.  That is, until now.  The restaurant still retains the character and long standing familiarity it always had, but the area has been transformed into a jaw droppingly beautiful space.  Courtesy of Muza Lab’s Inge Moore and Olga Polizzi (director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels), the impressive new design shows off some stunning and unique features, whilst retaining an air of exclusivity.

Meeting Inge at Donovan Bar for a spot of lunch and to chat about the design of the space, we occupied the best seat in the house – set back from the main area for privacy, but perfect for watching the bartenders mixing up cocktails from Salvatore Calabrese’s lavish menu of which has been split into four categories – high and low contrast and long and short exposure.  This ties in perfectly with Inge’s imaginings from the very beginning – that the bar would draw inspiration from Donovan and all elements of photography.

Inge’s portfolio is nothing short of amazing.  Her work spans the globe and every example she showed us gave a true representation of the character of each project.  From the Belmond Eagle Lodge in Botswana to the Kanuhura Resort in the Maldives, Inge’s highly skilled in building upon an existing narrative, to create a story through the design, which in turn translates into a special, memorable space.  One that is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on those who see her work.

Aside from the stained glass window of St. George which remains, the aesthetic transformation of Donovan Bar is pretty extreme.  There’s even a separate doorway from the street to the bar – its walls covered in the work of Sir Terence, like a private art gallery.  And there’s more to come inside (Donovan Bar has the biggest collection of his work in existence).  There’s the iconic photos you’ll notice – like Twiggy against the Union Jack backdrop, but also a number of works you’ll never have seen before.

And now, this photography collection is housed in the most stunning bar area!  Luxurious racing green, is complimented by whites and greys with the bar now a focal point.  Sit up at the counter on the high seats and you’ll be struck by the stunning, eye-catching glass bar counter with its shimmering bronzed base – drawing inspiration from the wet trays used in a dark room for exposure.

With light now flooding in through the newly designed windows, etched glass table tops, and lots of tonal layering, every feature is decadent, whilst drawing on the photography process.

In our semi-private booth, you’ll also notice the walls covered in some of Donovan’s slightly more risqué works.  They’re so sexy-chic, they sum up the place perfectly.

While the menu is small and the  food is simple and informal, it’s absolutely delicious – almost fine dining in a casual setting.  From pizza, to flaky fish with perfectly cooked golden chips, burrata starters and crisp white wine, it’s executed as well as the surroundings in which it is served.  Or of course, if you’re looking for something a little more substantial, you can book into the adjoining Beck at Brown’s.

Oozing with style and absolutely rocking its new design, there’s also a late night DJ on at the weekends, adding to its appeal as a destination bar rather than a hotel bar.  And while Inge’s style is most definitely ‘quiet luxury’, when it comes to design, Donovan Bar is certainly something to shout about.

Written by Luxuria Lifestyle UK’s Ashleigh Whitfield

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