Robert Angell Interior Design and Into Lighting collaborated on 14 Hills restaurant and bar to create a luxurious oasis that celebrates the daylight yet creates dark, warm and intimate spaces in the evening.
14 Hills is a restaurant, bar and deli situated in the heart of London’s Square Mile. An all-day dining destination that transitions throughout the day: from the daytime grab and go deli, to lunches in the restaurant, after-work cocktails in the bar, before the sun sets on a sophisticated dinner in the restaurant.
The restaurant’s name was inspired by the fact you can see as far as the hills, perched atop the 14th floor of 120 Fenchurch street. City skyline views include The Shard, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and the Thames. To bring a sense of the hills being alive within the restaurant, interior design studio Robert Angell has created a lush garden style interior. The restaurant has a canopy of evergreen plants and seasonal climbers growing at its centre, with shrubs and several pergolas around the room too. Olive trees with long, organic branches help to enclose and zone the space, while collections of other botanicals feature heavily throughout the scheme to soften the interior and draw the scale down to a more personal level. The concept also looks at deconstructing natural forms to create unique yet simple artistic spaces.
The restaurant walls, for the most part, are glazed windows and therefore form a perfect environment for greenery. The interior designers wanted to tie in the Britishness that is so relevant to both the location and the client D&D. With nods to the English garden, the terrace and the greenhouse are prevalent in this design not just through the use of plants but also in the materials and textures used; elements of rattan and wicker are used in the furniture and throughout. Large overscale pergolas make the dining intimate and add warmth with natural timber finishes.
Light is extremely important in this project and is a big part of what gives the building its identity. Robert Angell studio celebrates light by looking at its effect falling through different materials such as glass, mirrors and metal and how light is refracted and warped dependant on the material it meets, as well as the rainbow of colours it produces.
A two-year project in the making, Robert Angell and Karoliina Laaksonen from Robert Angell Design International, worked alongside Into Lighting’s Darren Orrow, Anthony Stead and Rebecca Hines to create an opulent, stylish aesthetic with a warm and inviting atmosphere, conjuring the refined essence of a lush English garden. A relaxed, eclectic atmosphere for any occasion, Robert Angell studio has taken inspiration from the terraces, roof gardens and courtyards and gardens across the UK and created interlinking dining spaces that are welcoming and unique.
“We first became involved with the project in 2017 and worked closely with the client D&D on ideas for the restaurant, with the scheme evolving along the way,” Angell tells darc. “We knew we wanted to use the wisteria roof garden as inspiration and incorporate a garden into the scheme. This was developed into a series of indoor gardens capturing how we, as a country, brought amazing plants back to the UK and managed to cultivate them here. It’s a celebration of this coupled with an amazing ambience created by people in neighbouring gardens having fun in the summer in London. How we designed the lighting to capture this was crucial.“
Decorative lighting was very important for this project, as it is in all of our restaurant projects,” continues Laaksonen. “Not only did the lighting need to be functional but it was important to create the right kind of ambience with the fittings – whether it was the warm glowing pendants, beautifully decorated wall lights, column lights or table lamps, which draw the eye with colourful and interesting lightshades that contrast the green backdrop.”
Into Lighting was briefed to provide a theatrical and layered lighting scheme in order to complement the function of each space while creating intimacy. The illumination within the venue was key in highlighting the plush and refined finishes of the various materials used by Angell and his team, as well as enhancing the abundance of planting within the space. A series of bespoke decorative light fixtures from UK-based Illumination Lighting were designed to provide ambient illumination along with key focal points throughout. The control of the lighting was also a careful consideration to ensure smooth and low-level dimming within the various scenes throughout the venue’s opening hours; this was provided by a Mode Lighting Tiger dimming system.
The restaurant is accessed via lifts from the ground floor of the development. On exiting the lifts on the 14th floor there is a staircase that leads to the roof garden with the restaurant on the left and deli on the right. To enhance this area, planting is located in front of the restaurant entrance, illuminated via bespoke rechargeable spike mounted adjustable spotlights from Display Lighting.
The reception desk is the first element to greet the customer, this has been illuminated with a series of concealed linear LED fixtures from Enigma Lighting to provide subtle illumination to the front of the desk and provide a gentle glow to the ‘meet and greet’ staff. Carefully highlighted planting within the threshold is located to mask views to the restaurant beyond and give a taste of what’s to come.
A large, welcoming bar with swirls of burgundy and cream marble takes centre stage at 14 Hills with customers drawn to a bespoke suspended light dome with gold leaf lining and Jesmonite finish hanging above the bar. Taking the nature of deconstruction and location one step further, Robert Angell looked to the classic pinstripes and herringbones as a nod to the banking trade, which Fenchurch Street and the City is famous for. Elements of the pinstripe are seen in abstract forms throughout the venue, with punches of lime greens and tangerines apparent in the upholstery. Abstract art inspired by natural forms and materials have also been commissioned to add depth, interest and something totally unique to this space.
The large bespoke lighting piece above the bar is accompanied by a series of textured bespoke pendants also finished in Jesmonite, which sit perfectly above the glowing bottle steps in the centre of the bar. Concealed linear LED lighting gently washes the front of the bar with further concealed details within the bar top providing working light for the staff. Bespoke hard-wired tabled lamps situated on the bar top provide a supplementary layer of illumination and add a warmth to this area.
“As they are in the same space, it was important the restaurant and bar had a similar design language,” says Laaksonen. “Having said that, the bespoke decorative pieces create a real drama and focal point when entering the restaurant. The private dining room also has a large, custom-made pendant sitting over the long table – it’s different to the other spaces but still connected with the concept.”
Table illumination comes via discreet track-mounted adjustable spotlights from Enigma Lighting utilising Soraa LED sources (above the timber), while concealed linear LED lighting from Enigma Lighting features within the banquette seating planters to provide a subtle low-level glow and help the areas feel intimate and cosy.
The main dining space to the left of the bar comprises tables nestled under pergolas and between trees and planting. Bespoke pendants make use of a mix of Zico and Enigma Lighting LED filament lamps and are scattered throughout to provide a layer of ambient illumination and key focal points, while not detracting your eye from the stunning views across London. The tables are illuminated with narrow beam adjustable spotlights with a series of filters to warm the light and enhance the look of food offering on the plates. Honeycomb louvres help with glare control and a track lighting system from Powergear allows for flexibility when tables are moved into different configurations. As the day transitions into the evening the tables are adorned with bespoke LED rechargeable table lights from Neoz, with the warm 1800K LED light source and ivory fabric shade adding intimacy to the tables and diners.
The abundance of planting and trees throughout 14 Hills helps to create pockets of privacy and creates a feeling of the outdoors. Planting is illuminated via a series of Light Graphix spike mounted adjustable LED spotlights at low level with another layer of track spots providing lighting from above. A slightly cooler colour temperature was chosen for the planting to enhance the lush green colours of the foliage.
As you move further down the restaurant, an internally illuminated wine fridge delivers a point of focus while a series of internally illuminated suspended planters around the perimeter add a further level of illumination and draw the eye to the views beyond the windows.
The cosy private dining room mentioned earlier is situated in the far corner of the restaurant and accessed via a corridor past the kitchen. A series of bespoke pendants that again, use Zico filament LED lamps, lead customers down the corridor to the dining room beyond. Alongside the bespoke decorative feature lighting, this room is illuminated via concealed linear LED within the ceiling coffer with adjustable LED downlights focused onto the tabletop. Low level lighting to the planting and bespoke picture lights from TM Lighting for the artwork add additional layers of light while not detracting from the views through the glass on two sides of the room.
In the bathrooms, concealed linear LED lighting in the ceiling rafts provide a warm ambient glow while bespoke wall lights located between the mirrors provide functional illumination.
“The lighting created by Into is an absolutely vital part of the design,” says Laaksonen. “Lighting sets the mood, get it right and you create an incredible space that just ‘feels right’. We had some challenges on this project in terms of structural restraints – for example, we weren’t able to fix the column lights to the landlord’s columns, nor could we wire them through the cases, so we had to come up with a creative solution of decorative gold flex that hangs from the ceiling, this actually created a really nice detail enhancing the light fittings.
“We’ve also never worked with planting on this scale before. When we initially created the concept, our aim was to have a luscious English Garden and it was stressed that ‘more is more’ in this case. Every seat in the restaurant is full of interest with different details and different experiences – it envelopes you with its warmth.
“We are really happy with 14 Hills – everything and everyone worked towards the same goal and we have created and designed something that is fascinating and an experience to be proud of.”
By using warm, rich tones and materials that allow natural light to flow but glow at night Robert Angell and Into Lighting have created an environment that celebrates the daylight and as the evening comes the interior creates dark, warm and intimate spaces to dine and have fun. A dramatic, sophisticated and layered lighting scheme has been created utilising LED sources that provide a high quality of light with a warmth of colour temperature. Post dusk, the lighting scenes evolve to create a highly theatrical, yet intimate environment.