Seven stories above the Hard Rock Cafe in West London. That’s where Luigi Esposito found himself envisioning the potential of a 7,800-square-foot penthouse, set in a 1904-period building—a coveted cachet with an impressive view of the London skyline.
“Beauty manifests when you do what you love, and I love what I do.”
His initial design plans were inspired to go in a new direction when he discovered archaic details behind the walls.
“We began uncovering fragments of Classical architectural elements — ornate cornices, plaster-molding embellishments and columns”, says Esposito, the creative director of Oro Bianco Interior Design — an exclusive design house with a bespoke approach. “There is a profound joy in finding such beauty in unexpected places”.
While the building’s stone exterior is a flamboyant example of Flemish Baroque architecture, the building’s interiors were an incongruent anthology of design styles. Adapting to the times and different owners, the flats inside had morphed from grand mansions for American aristocracy and nobility in the 1900s to professional offices after the Second World War, and then as contemporary pied-à-terres for the nouveau riche enticed to live here in the district of Mayfair — the most expensive and exclusive postal code in Britain.
“When you walk into a room and there is a balance between the design, the proportions, the space, the lighting and the artistic elements, there is beauty”.
Protected under the conservation department, the integrity of the original architectural elements could not be removed, but they could be covered. As the floor plan was reconfigured and the plasterwork removed, true beauty was revealed. Molds were taken of the original architectural details and the refurbished embellishments subtly integrated, framing bespoke bedroom furniture and adding a sense of history to the expanded social spaces.
The Mayfair penthouse’s ornate lobby provides insight into Esposito’s design philosophy “to be unique — yet create something beautiful, balanced, elegant and timeless — equally respectful to the past and to the client.”
There is much for the eyes to feast on: a checkered marble floor, a pair of crystal chandeliers, and a Louis-XIV commode inlaid with tortoiseshell marquetry and mounted with Ormolu — a technique favored back in the 18th century by great French furniture designers, whose gilt-bronze pieces were as fine as jewelers’ work. Luigi Esposito’s love of fine furniture developed in his formative years with an Italian uncle who was an art and antique collector, and a Brazilian grandmother whose house was filled with extraordinary woodwork.
What may seem a small detail to some is to Luigi Esposito the pinnacle of artistry in this penthouse — a mosaic on the master-bathroom floor. The Pietra Dura floor “pays tribute” to his client’s Indian culture. Over 47,000 pieces of semi-precious stones such as amethyst, carnelian, lapis lazuli and mother-of-pearl were used. The highly-polished stone mosaic was made in India, photographed to the client’s approval, and then dismantled and recreated in London.
Like a true master in his field of expertise, Luigi Esposito stands back and admires the completed magnum opus. Seeing a project come alive after months of planning, and then shine with enduring patina, is his true reward.
“When you walk into a room and there is a balance between the design, the proportions, the space, the lighting and the artistic elements, there is beauty. I feel truly grateful to experience this balance in my life.”
Produced by Peggy Liu