The OXBO restaurant at Hilton London Bankside marks a design departure from the traditional aesthetic of the brand. The concept embraces its neighbourhood heritage as the primary source of inspiration. Working in conjunction with Twenty2Degrees as lead interior designers for this flagship Hilton London Bankside hotel, the client detailed a restaurant and bar (R&B) brief covering materials and performance, but Dexter Moren Associates (DMA) ultimately had the freedom to develop their own design concept. The OXBO is a destination all-day dining restaurant working from day to night serving a breakfast buffet for hotel guests and an a la carte menu during the day and evening. DMA’s design takes inspiration from the area, rooting the restaurant in its location and moving beyond the traditional brand image. They sought to create a concept that captured the urban grittiness of the location, mixed with refined nostalgic details and contemporary simplicity. By doing so they wanted to create a destination restaurant attracting local residents and visitors as well as hotel guests.
The main design challenge was to retain the 168-cover restaurant’s buzz throughout the day and evening. Decorative perforated steel screens provide privacy in the relatively large space as well as being strategically positioned to allow guests to be grouped within smaller areas. Merging the rustic location with nostalgic details and contemporary elegance; a pressed tin ceiling presents a bold statement, oak panelling adds warmth and the hexagonal black and white floor tiles contrast with parquet flooring. The yellow and blue tones of the William Morris inspired carpet add vibrancy. Original art works include a ghost mural painted by Diarmuid Bryon-O’Connor, this is a reference to a local original Rose Tea Mural on Union Street, Southwark belonging to James Ashby & Sons Ltd; a tea trade which dates back to 1850. OXBO’s mural pays homage to these reminders of its history as a trade hub. A menagerie of quirky papier-mâché animal heads by David Farrer are mounted around the restaurant, these are a playful contemporary take on old world English decor. Creative lighting installations and exposed rivets and screws echo the prevailing industrial theme.
The designer’s aim was to create a hotel that responds to the layered urban history of its neighbourhood in Bankside London. Heritage was key to the concept, DMA weaved subtle hints of old English charm into their design narrative through the use of traditional details, fabrics, natural stones and dark stained oak Parquet flooring and wall panelling, while maintaining a contemporary finish. Another key factor which helped determine and shape the scheme was the restaurant’s close proximity to the Tate Modern art gallery, as a result the team wanted to elaborate on this dialogue by selecting contemporary statement artworks that were responsive and provocative. Researching and unearthing historical facts about the Bankside area proved fascinating and very rewarding for the interior design team and they wanted to share these stories with the restaurant’s guests. Hilton London Bankside hotel represents the next generation of design-led Hilton Hotels and the OXBO destination restaurant is the epitome of this fresh new approach. It juxtaposes the old with the new and traditional urban culture with design features and signature artworks – offering its clientèle an immersive and distinctive dining experience.