Afroditi Krassa Brings an Urban Edge to Hilton’s TwoRuba
With London’s Tower Bridge area abuzz with new hotel and bar openings, competition for customers is fierce. Recognizing this, last year the Hilton hotel group enlisted the creative talents of dynamic London interior design studio Afroditi Krassa to refurbish Two Ruba, the 3,200-square-foot bar and restaurant at its London Hilton Tower Bridge location, which opened in September 2014.
Channeling an aesthetic and an attitude that the studio defined as “urban opulence,” the bar is laid out over four levels along the length of the hotel’s ground floor. “We have a notion of Hilton being quite luxurious as a player within the market,” explains the studio’s founder and namesake, Afroditi Krassa, “but at the same time playing it quite safe. We wanted to challenge this old fashioned notion of luxury, by making it a bit more relaxed, a bit younger and a bit more urban.” Meticulously put together, the color palette incorporates grey purple, dusky green and copper tones with an emphasis on texture, avoiding what Krassa describes as the ‘sea of beige’ effect that is so synonymous with luxury interiors.
From the hotel lobby, visitors are invited upwards into the bar, passing through a series of gentle levels. from dining, working, lounging and drinking, each level has been assigned a different function subtly defined by exacting table and seating heights. “Hilton wanted it to work all day and all night,” Krassa tells us. “It’s a space that has to cater to people having a 2 pm meeting all the way through to local workers having 9 pm cocktails.” She continues, “We didn’t want the areas to feel very different, we wanted them to feel as one and for visitors to sub consciously find the right seat.”
The furniture is a mix of bespoke pieces designed in-house by Krassa’s design team and items sourced from brands such as Stella Works, Moroso, Michael Young and Buster and Punch. The look mixes old English Gentlemen’s Club with elements of East Asian style and is a deliberate move away from the “typical Hilton interior.” The most ambitious and risky element of the design process was the installation of a tactile aluminum curtain that envelopes the entire space. “I had to get this curtain by hook or by crook,” remembers Krassa. “It was right there form the beginning.” By far the most costly element of the space, the lightweight mesh curtain was imported from Canada where it was made to order. “It defines the space,” summarizes Krassa. “In the daytime you have this more open lobby, which is important in terms of orientation, and at night time it creates a more intimate type of space—it softens the building’s glass elevation and diffuses the light in a very beautiful way.”