Spanning five floors of a striking Georgian Townhouse on Rathbone Place, The AllBright is the first members club of its kind in the capital. As part of AllBright – an educational, networking and funding organisation for working women set up by entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow OBE and former Hearst CEO, Anna Jones in 2016 – the club aims to provide a dedicated space in which women can thrive personally and professionally.
For Wosskow and Jones, the club’s Bloomsbury location is a pertinent reference to the progressive ideals and vision of the Bloomsbury Set – a fascinating circle of writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists values and philosophy that operated during the 20th Century.
Indeed, the famed line “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” – first delivered by author and Bloomsbury set member, Virginia Woolf, in a series of lectures she gave to Cambridge’s women’s colleges in 1928 – is the framing inspiration for the club.
When it came to The AllBright’s interior, London-based practice No.12 were challenged with creating a fresh, contemporary environment suited to the diverse facilities on offer to members.
“We were recommended for the project by our close friends and industry colleagues ‘Dodds and Shute’,” explains Emma Rayner, co-founder of No.12. “We were selected for our design ethos, style, ambition and for the professional synergy we share with Anna and Debbie, AllBright’s co-founders, who recognised our business vision as two young and driven female entrepreneurs.”
Alongside the club’s assorted work spaces and meeting rooms, there are two lounge areas, dining rooms, an exhibition space, café, cocktail bar and wellness, fitness and beauty rooms – creating a full complement of facilities for work and leisure.
“Every floor of the member’s club needs to be flexible and able to be transformed to suit the weekly schedule of presentations, meetings, and parties that The AllBright organises for its members”
“We had to design with foresight to cater for a multitude of scenarios,” explains Emma. “Every floor of the member’s club needs to be flexible and able to be transformed to suit the weekly schedule of presentations, meetings, and parties that The AllBright organises for its members. Therefore, we spent a great deal of time space planning the building whilst taking care to uphold the design integrity and adhere to all Listed building specifications.”
Each named for a different member of the Bloomsbury Set and their associates, the five floors of the property are distinctive in their design. Indeed, Emma and Katie approached the architectural detailing by grading the colour palette of the building from light on the lower floors to dark on the upper. They have consciously avoided the colour pink, deeming it an outdated presumption of women’s tastes, instead opting for a fresh, elegant palette of mustard yellows, deep blues and bright reds, alongside bold geometric prints and a rainbow of marble surfaces.
The lower ground floor, named ‘Lopokova’, houses the club’s wellness and vanity areas, including a beauty bar, wellness centre for treatments and fitness classes, as well as changing facilities. Inspired by Russian ballet dancer, Lydia Lopokova, this serene, revitalising space features tiled vanity areas with grey velvet chairs, mirrored walls, brass sconces and wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler.
In ‘Morell’, on the ground floor, members enter into a bright, welcoming reception area and lounge that leads into a multi-use 40-cover café. Serving up an all-day dining menu, as well as evening bar snacks by female-led business Social Pantry, the café doubles as an exhibition space. No.12 has instilled an indoor/outdoor feel here, with a generous skylight that floods the space with natural daylight and a selection of leafy green plants.
Moving up to the first floor, ‘Bell’, members can make use of the flexible lounge and seating area with meeting and dining rooms. Here, a timeless and eclectic interior creates a particularly residential feel. New and antique pieces are used in equal measure, alongside a number of bespoke furnishings, like the striking monochrome bespoke sofas.
“A feeling of light and space predominates the second floor, named for Virginia Woolf herself. Offering further living, meeting and dining spaces, this floor maintains the integrity and heritage of the building with its original wooden floors and refreshed fireplaces”
“With regards to furniture, each piece should always be able to speak for itself in terms of usability, design, form and material,” Katie explains. “We always describe the FF&E process as a curation. We select from local and international suppliers, craftsmen & artists, as well as sourcing from antiques dealers and vintage furniture stores. The eclectic mix of furniture makes our space feel welcoming and comfortable with a cool and considered edge.”
A feeling of light and space predominates the second floor, named for Virginia Woolf herself. Offering further living, meeting and dining spaces, this floor maintains the integrity and heritage of the building with its original wooden floors and refreshed fireplaces.
Finally, the prosecco and cocktail bar on the property’s third floor – ‘West’ – creates a striking contrast with the light-filled, muted colour palettes of the lower floors. The powerful, deep blue walls here are complemented by rich gold and brass accents, marble-top tables and custom-upholstered perspex chairs.
“The materials used for the bar – grey tinted mirror, flecked terrazzo, brass and plush deep pile velvets – make this the ultimate luxurious hideaway,” says Katie. “Perfect for an evening sipping one of Social Pantry’s amazing cocktails, it is the boldest interior scheme in the building and never fails to impress.”
In keeping with AllBright’s raison d’etre of promoting female businesses, No.12 has used female designers and businesses throughout the project, finding furniture and accessories from Béton Brut and Sigma, Rebecca Willer and flowers by Abigail Ahern.
The AllBright also worked with David Bowie’s art curator, Beth Greenacre, on the artwork selection, which comprises pieces entirely by female artists.