Copper Club

May 8, 2024

Renowned for its edgy interiors and creative branding, Run For the Hills studio, has transformed a cherished local landmark in Guildford, UK into a lavish three-floor multi-faceted club house. darc talks to co-founder and interior designer of Run For the Hills, Anna Burles, as she offers insights on the design and the necessity of decorative lighting. 

The collaboration between Run For the Hills and Copper Club began after the client stumbled upon some of studio’s portfolio in a magazine. Recognising the studio’s unparalleled fusion of interior and graphic planning offered everything the client needed from interior planning, bespoke art designs, and unique branding to boot. From there the brief was clear – to create a guest-experience with technical design, operational pointers, and detailed brand storytelling.

Located on the cobbled streets in Guildford’s high street this beloved building was once a tailor’s shop known as Burton’s. Now the building is open for locals to use, offering a member’s club mentality where guests can settle all day for work and play but without membership fees and exclusivity. It features expansive crittal style windows framed with a soft blue façade and hand painted gold signage inspired by its former life as Burton’s tailors.

The client was a huge fan of heritage features and its history as a popular tailor shop; hence the new logo displays a tape measure wrapped elegantly around fabric scissors. However, the building’s most recent incarnation as a sport retailer meant most of these architectural details had been ripped out. Despite its unfortunate dismantle of the original features, this gave Run For the Hills a complete blank canvas to work with. Restoring the heritage features were predictably difficult yet crucial to the design scheme, some of which included coverings and moldings, a statement staircase and a glass lift bringing a sense of its history outside and in.

Like any interior design, decorative lighting has a vital role in creating an essential atmosphere. With The Townhouse spanning across three floors and four zones of function (dining, drinking, working, and socialising), lighting is key to creating a seamless transition between each zone and has a quintessential role in enhancing the ambience with both its stunning appearance and ways of distributing light. Burles says: “Decorative lighting is incredibly important in all of our interior design projects and The Townhouse was no different. Even with the most amazing FF&E furnishing scheme and materials palette, a space feels naked without decorative lighting. Beautiful wall lights, mood enhancing table lamps (both wired and portable), and statement floor lights not only look stunning, but fulfil an essential role in creating atmosphere. A scheme isn’t complete without exciting decorative lighting and getting the balance right between architectural and decorative is key to the best interiors. Too much architectural lighting can feel clinical and too technical and guests can ‘feel’ the fittings and dominance. Not enough architectural lighting can be disappointing too as decorative lighting alone can’t create some of the effects needed to highlight beautiful finishes, furnishings, and joineries. The two really are co-dependent.”

Burles adds: “Our decorative lighting choices were designed to enhance the overall style of the space, using a suite of different-sized wall lights in antique brass, bronze, and iron finishes, some featuring glass, others woven shades. Lots of the fittings feature prismatic and reeded glass details, which create a lovely atmospheric glow and reflections around the fitting. Other choices have very targeted light where the light source is not visible, designed to do a different job of drawing the eye to the object the light fitting is highlighting (whether that’s a piece of art or highlight furniture). Overall, it is a curated mix of creatively sourced lights, from a mix of retailers we know and love, including some lovely vintage fittings from Pure White Lines, Murano chandeliers and Italian style Murano wall lights injecting a shot of glamour and sparkle.”

The ground floor represents a classic Coppa Club design with a vintage inspired timber cafe-bar and a laid-back cosy workspace, in a relaxed and stylish interior. Tonal textured walls layered with curated gallery art are illuminated by E2 Contract Lighting’s bronze picture lights, which set the scene on the ground floor for a fresh and inviting all day atmosphere. Designed to combine the best elements of both a workspace and a café/bar, lighting needs to ensure guests are comfortable whatever their needs. The rear ‘snug’ lounge isn’t flooded in natural light, so is lit softly by floor lamps and architectural lighting to spotlight the soft seating where guests can listen to the crackle of the fireplace. The lighting from low level table lamps and architectural lighting creates a natural flow between café-bar and workspace.

The journey continues in the brass framed elevator that gently transcends past the hand painted mural designed by Run For the Hills graphics and art team. The mural flows and changes from the ground floor’s neutral tones to a deeper and more lively mix of blue accents atmospherically lit with soft pink Murano wall lights by Pure White Lines acting as guides to the middle floor.

Now in the brasserie, the private dining space offers a homely and relaxed feeling for an all-day dining experience serving breakfast to late night dinners. Furnishings such as open banquette seating with contrasting rugs are highlighted by a central antique style chandelier also by Pure White Lines. Wall lights from E2 Contract Lighting add warm rays of light along with more bronze picture lights spotlighting the curated gallery art. The central stone fireplace is framed by a warm timber-stained bookcase with subtle vintage detailing, retro wallpaper with Soho House light fixtures placed cleverly around the bookcase. The nature of this space is designed to be homely and inspired by the glow of a fire therefore ambient lighting dotted around the space helps enhance the friendly and comforting atmosphere.

Burles says: “Some of the zones within the multi-floor venue, were developed during the design process – with the middle floor becoming more focused as a brasserie restaurant, with a different mood, function, and vibe from the informal ground floor. Still buzzy, but not a place for laptops, a space for food and drink to be celebrated across the table with friends, family, and colleagues.”

The final floor hosts a cocktail bar and lounge, a sanctuary where guests can enjoy draft pours, premium spirits, and signature blend cocktails. Nestled in the plush lounge sofas and cocktail chairs, guests can groove to the sounds from the in-house DJ under a dark moody blue ceiling. Burles describes the development of the top floor as “organic” with the design emerging with refinements in the final lighting and FF&E scheme. The statement copper bar and arched frame is highlighted in a pool of light using a combination of decorative lights, architectural lighting, and joinery to position its centrality. Alongside the bar Run for the Hills’ talented graphics team added a dramatic touch through a hand-painted canvas layered with a vibrant glow of amber neon light, which took inspiration from the staircase mural. The mid-level, warm ambience from the lighting acted as the perfect foil to the bar’s cooler interior colour palette of vibrant pinks, icy blues, and ochre yellows. In addition, the room is adorned with a gorgeous fireplace, rich velvet curtains and glows of moody low-level lighting from brass pendants and Murano glass wall lights – adding a je ne sais quoi to the overall furnishings.

“Decorative lighting is doubly powerful within a scheme,” says Burles. “It creates both a visual focal point, adding beauty to a space and is integral to the interior design FF&E scheme, adding metallic, glass and textile, material accents as well as layers of lighting. Our brief for the lighting was to create a mid-level, warm ambience, and the architectural lighting was key to this – creating pools of light and pockets of lighting picking out beautiful design details.”

The triple threat studio established another successful project showcasing its trademark blend approach of branding, in venue graphics and art, and interiors. From captivating highlight features, layering interiors, bespoke art, joinery and atmospheric finishes, the project exudes grandeur whilst maintaining a harmonious balance, further elevated by the decorative lighting.

Burles aptly concludes: “Lighting is the icing on the cake of any design scheme. A gorgeous interior is elevated into a stunning scheme with the addition of great lighting. Carefully placed and balanced lighting creates the right lux levels and tone of ambient light, which creates the right mood and energy within a space. Flexible lighting gives the opportunity for a space to discreetly morph into different vibes across the day – something which is particularly important in an all-day venue.”

Upstairs Cocktail Bar in Copper Club, The Townhouse in Guildford.