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Malmaison York 

Embracing the beauty of brutalism

Interior Design

A beast made beautiful

Malmaison York includes 150 guestrooms and suites, a reception and lobby lounge, bar and restaurant, meeting and conference facilities, spa and gym.

Coined ‘a beast made beautiful’ we collaborated with Malmaison to transform a 1960s brutalist office building into this one-of-a-kind hotel. Our concept combines the building’s heritage with the brand’s reputation for playful, sassy schemes with tongue-in-cheek art.   

The design story

Our interior concept takes inspiration from the building’s history, York’s confectionary manufacturing and the 1960s art movement.

We sensitively restored eight levels of concrete floorplates, façade and waffle ceilings. Painted a vibrant Yves Klein blue, the waffle ceiling takes centre stage in the ground floor reception, and restaurant and rooftop bar. Walls and floors are purposefully understated. The pale tones of a textured and printed wallcovering and terrazzo contrast with black stained oak panelling and timber floors

The bar is made from curved black pyrolave bricks and elegant grey marble. Reflecting 1960s brutalist principles, this palette punches with bold colour block, mid-century graphic inspired, rugs and upholsteries. Original artworks by Elegant Clutter reference famous sixties artists Warhol, Lichtenstein, Hockney and fashion designer Mary Quant. 

Within the large open reception area, a bespoke high acrylic rod chandelier anchors the space.

Fragmented mirror wall art sits next to a giant “vandalised’ gold panel with different textures etched with text and poetry from historic York and the Vikings.

Iconic brass ‘flower pot’ pendants designed by 1960s designer Verner Panton hang from the ceiling.

Acoustic panels within the restaurant and bar feature a coral coloured 1960s print wallcovering. The wallcovering is also used in a large private dining room which also features a bespoke centre table made with a fluted valcromat base and multicoloured recycled plastic surface.

A destination restaurant and bar were carefully carved out to connect to the new purpose-built extension to the rear, also designed to a mid-century aesthetic.

The extension is home to an extensive signature Malmaison Work+Play meeting and conference facility with separate entrance, bookable meeting pods, breakout spaces with self-serve kitchens and its own bar: all receiving daylight from a centrally located clerestory.

The conference rooms and large ballroom are optimised to create divisible multifunctional spaces with feature marquetry veneer wallcovering and signature sculptural artworks based on Lichtenstein’s brushwork.

Designing a hotel within an existing building is always much more complicated than designing one that is new and purpose-built. The nature of the concrete floorplates, façade and ceilings required creative intelligent solutions. Rather than fight against it, we have embraced the spirit of the existing structure in the celebration of the concrete waffle ceilings and shear walls, instinctively connecting guests to the building’s heritage

David Harte Co-Head of Interiors at Studio Moren

The design for the rooftop bar is inspired by York’s industrial heritage and many green spaces.

On arrival guests are greeted by a large bespoke moveable glass wall.

In the bar, nature inspired upholsteries and soft furnishings contrast with Crittall dividing screens. The sunken design of the bar, and use of low reflecting and sound absorbing surfaces, minimises the impact on the local neighbourhood.

To help us work out the bedroom layout we built sample rooms to test different options. This led us to create wider than usual spaces allowing the beds to be placed opposite windows with views of York Minster and the River Ouse.

The bathrooms are deconstructed into separate WC and shower enclosures with a wide vanity across the room to create the bed wall. Glazing half way provides privacy and division between the sleeping and bathroom areas while keeping the room open and connected.

The open connection between bathroom and sleeping area meant we had to be careful in our choice of materials. 

Recycled coconut shell marmoleum line the wall where it meets the part height glazing, made from 97% raw materials and 3% post industrial waste, the marmoleum is produced using 100% renewable energy. The entrance flooring and shower enclosures are clad with large grey marble tiles and feature amber tinted slot windows to enhance the daylight.

Tan leather upholstery is punctuated with black metalwork and bronze accents.

Yves Klein blue, burnt orange, mustard yellow and the signature Malmaison pink – all key colours of the Sixties - are playfully positioned as accents throughout. Bold geometric patterns are applied in the wallcovering and fabrics to further link to the era’s architecture and design.

A wall mounted artwork cabinet conceals the TV and speaker system.

The artwork designed by Elegant Clutter subtly references the alchemy in the making of the famous fruit pastille of the nearby Rowntree’s factory and is complemented by smaller brutalist architecture inspired framed pieces.

Awards and nominations

  • Mixology Awards
    Project of the Year Finalist: Hotel
    Malmaison York
  • Insider Yorkshire Property Industry Awards
    Refurbishment + Renovation of the Year
    Malmaison York
Lothbury Investment Management
York, United Kingdom
Completed 2021
150 keys
Jack Hardy