After opening Hostem and The New Road Residence, what’s a visionary creative couple to do? The answer for James Brown and Christie Fels was to establish the Blue Mountain School in London’s Shoreditch, a clubhouse, in their words, “dedicated to nurturing engagements and interactions between diverse practices.” Translation: The six-story brick structure, overhauled by 6a architects, serves as a place for inventive comrades to show their work and for others to browse, buy, and eat. It’s intended to regularly evolve, and currently houses among other things, the Hostem “fashion archive” on the ground floors, a multi-room gallery on the top, plus a perfumery, a listening room, and the London outpost of Tyler Hays’s BDDW.
Brown says his goal was to “create an environment where people can have a dialogue under one roof,” and that is particularly possible at Mãos, the resident restaurant, which has a single table for 16. Right now, it’s the proverbial room where it happens. Come see.
The architects worked in close collaboration with Brown and Fels: “We had intensive weekly design meetings with them for the better part of two years,” Fels tells us. “We project-managed the build ourselves, so we know how every element came together.”
The restaurant is run by Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes, a good friend of Brown’s, and was conceived by the two of them as a place to redefine the traditional dining experience: “Mãos was created with the humble dinner party in mind,” says Brown. “The design was to be domestic,” explains Watson, “but also to work hard for Nuno and his team. There’s an exciting tension between its professional performance and needing to feel at home. Guests chat to the chefs beside the vacuum sealer, blast chiller, and Japanese krono grill.”
The communal oak table was designed for the space by 6a and fabricated by Blue Mountain School’s in-house wood shop: “It had to be long to seat 14 guests, but also feel intimate and communal rather than ceremonial,” says Watson. The Comb-back Windsor Chairs are by Christopher Howe and have a surface that’s blackened by charring. The handwoven wall hanging is by Alexis Gautier, the first artist to be shown in the in-house Blue Projects gallery. It’s available via the Hostem Archive, a permanent collection of art, artifacts, and fashion on view in the two lower levels.
Shown here: grilled leak wrapped in kombu with raw cream and sour juices of mooli and cucumber. Photograph by Tomas Jivanda.
For more details and reservations, go to Mãos.
Thinking of plastering your walls? Go to Remodeling 101: Modern Plaster Walls, 6 Ways.