Luke Hughes and Company, recent news

Mercers' Company Court Dining Room, London

Mercers’ Company

March 2017

Works at the Mercers’ Company, the premier Livery Company of the City of London, have been going on discretely for more than fifteen years, bringing some of the 1950s interiors into the modern age.

The Luke Hughes® team first worked on the chapel and the ‘Ambulatory’ event space. Recently we have supervised the new layouts for the Court Room and Court Dining Room, including a new lighting system developed in conjunction with Sutton-Vane Associates and the complete redecoration and re-gilding of the coffered ceilings. The new lighting in the Court Dining Room means that for the first time, table layouts can allow for meetings, reading and dining.

The furniture involvement has allowed for continuous use of the existing furniture, albeit refurbished.

For more on our Mercers’ Hall projects, see:

Mercers’ Hall Case Study

Mercers’ Chapel Phase 1 completes

Historic Meeting at Mercers’ Hall

Heraldic Gates at Mercers’ Hall

Keystone Academy High School Library Reading Area Beijing

New library at Keystone Academy, Beijing nears completion

January 2017

As the Luke Hughes® team add the finishing touches to the impressive high school library at Keystone Academy, Beijing, all is on track for completion this February.

Keystone Academy is a Chinese private school in operation since 2014. This authorized IB world school is founded on three keystones: bilingual immersion in Chinese and English; building character and community throughout its residential setting; and promoting Chinese culture and identity in a world context.

Classrooms, offices and learning environments at Keystone are designed with students and teachers in mind. High ceilings, large windows, and intelligent layouts make for inviting spaces that facilitate student learning at every turn. The design of the new high school library, with an equal mix of Chinese and English books, is seen as critical in extending the cultural identity of the school, enabling inquiry-based learning, and playing a key role in attracting prospective students.

Luke Hughes® was first commissioned in January 2016, with the brief to create a space that finely blended eastern and western aesthetics and sensibilities with a reflection of the 21st century - especially in a digital world dominated by the world-wide web. The design team approached the project with a concept that has evolved from their extensive involvement with other libraries, creating a tangible learning environment and academic experience that embodies the very spirit of the institution it represents and which is encapsulated in the firm’s ethos of Furniture in Architecture.

24 tonnes of furniture, 85% made in the UK, duly arrived on time, on budget, ready for installation in the 820 sq metre library at the end of August 2016. Apart from the practical matters of providing shelves for books and readers spaces, the new library includes provision for temporary exhibitions, specialist teaching rooms, and a rare-books section. Some of the space retains some flexibility for rearrangement, for presentations by visiting academics, poets and musicians.

Further enhancing the academically stimulating environment are some individual artistic commissions including bronze door handles in the forms of Welsh and Chinese dancing dragons by sculptor Jill Watson and stone letter carving by Caroline Webb.

‘We’ve consciously taken some of the furniture forms illustrated in silk paintings from the Ming and Song dynasties and given them a contemporary twist’ says company founder Luke Hughes.

The library is already in use by enthusiastic students and their teachers. Kacy Song is the Director of Libraries and has been a vital member of the library’s design and development team. She firmly believes that a library is a place where all human wisdom comes to life and it is where you can really ‘talk’ with the wisest people in the world. Her enthusiasm is reflected in her response to the new library facility: ‘Places where the qi (energy) not only draws you in but also speaks of other eras (and values) are so rare. The Jin-dynasty poet, Tao Yuanming, wrote in “The Peach Blossom Land” about a fisherman who stumbled on a magical village where, on entering, visitors lose their sense of time and forget to leave. That is what the library feels like. One of our G11 students commented “there must be magic glue on the carpet - I can’t seem to want to leave!”

Founding Prinicipal Malcolm McKenzie remarks ‘When we talk about student life at Keystone Academy we talk about the heart and soul of our school community. We recognize that not all learning takes place in classroom settings. We commit to and value student learning that takes place independently and the library is a case in point where our students can explore areas of interest, make connections and enjoy unexpected discovery. We want to build a library that will capture imaginations because it is built to endure’.

25 Years Designing for Cambridge Colleges Queens Theatre Emmanuel College Hopkins Architects Cambridge

25 Years Designing for Cambridge Colleges

October 2016

The Luke Hughes® team were joined by guests, many of them clients over several decades, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of designing furniture for Cambridge colleges on 11 October 2016. The event was held in the Queen’s Theatre at Emmanuel College, a building designed by Hopkins Architects for which Luke Hughes® designed and manufactured all the furniture. It was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1995.

The first Luke Hughes® Cambridge project was a set of dining hall chairs for Corpus Christi College in 1991, which are still in excellent condition after quarter of a century. At the time, the bursar Robert Stopford wrote ‘individually they look elegant, together and filling the Hall they are magnificent. I always knew they would look good and enhance the Hall but they have exceeded my expectations by a wide margin…thank you for the very considerable time, effort and patience you devoted to producing a design which satisfied our many (and changing) criteria and which will give us pleasure for many years to come’.

This 25th anniversary occasion included a discussion between Oliver Caroe, architect and Founder of Caroe Architecture, and Luke Hughes, reflecting on the important role furniture plays in any building of distinction, in particular major university buildings, and how priorities have changed over recent years.

Caroe Architecture and Luke Hughes® have collaborated on many projects for Oxbridge colleges and are currently working together on the New College Song School.

Learn more about our academic clients here.

City of London School for Boys library

A New Library for City of London School for Boys

September 2016

On 23 September 2016 Sarah Fletcher, the Head of City of London School for Boys, cut the ribbon to open the new school library to staff and students, where Luke Hughes® has designed and manufactured a range of furniture.

The design objectives included not only making the library brighter and more comfortable for study, research and recreational reading, but also to offer more flexibility in the teaching spaces. Equally, the refurbishment offered the opportunity to open up some of the astonishing vistas across the Thames towards some of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Ellis Whitcomb, the Assistant Head, wrote ‘I just want to say what a pleasure it has been, dealing with a team who are so clearly passionate about what they do, always positive and one hundred per cent professional … nothing but a positive attitude and helpfulness … their enthusiasm and professionalism infect everything around them’. The Head describes it as a library ‘now worthy of a university’.

This library project has been another fast-track design scheme for the education sector in general, and libraries in particular. Luke Hughes® has now completed nearly thirty similar projects. Learn more about past projects here.

Athenaeum Club Garden Room Pall Mall Library

The Athenaeum Club

July 2016

New walnut bookcases and display cases have just been installed in the Garden Room of the Athenaeum Club, a striking Grade 1 building originally designed by Decimus Burton in 1824. The pieces are made in walnut with patinated copper escutcheons and will house the club’s expanding library collection - one of the most comprehensive private libraries in London.

The club has in the past commissioned from Luke Hughes® a large amount of furniture including new display cases, bedroom furniture and occasional tables.

Over the last thirty years, Luke Hughes® has designed furniture for a number of notable London clubs, including the Reform, Oxford and Cambridge, Garrick and Beefsteak.

Read more about our institutional projects here.

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