Simone McEwan / Olympic Studios Cinema, Cafe + Dining Rooms

Continuing on with the focus on London projects comes The Olympic Studios, Barnes. The renowned recording studio for the who’s who of twentieth century music legends including the Rolling Stones, The Who, Prince, and Nick Cave, has been transformed an independent cinema, café and dining rooms, and members club.

Built at the turn of the century as public performance space, it first became a cinema in 1910, yet since 2009, its doors had been closed to the public. The raw frame of the building was all that remained of the original structure. From this 'found space', the design created beauty in its rawness, and instead of layering over it, respectfully added to it with a richness in materials, furniture and colours; plump and welcoming sofas, some vintage pieces for familiarity, sensual textiles and textures be it raw linen, felt or deep pile velvet.

The solid materials make sense of and give identity to each space to create a feeling of belonging. For the lobby, mild steel of the staircase and bronze for the reception desk give a sense of permanence and tactility. For the café and dining room; copper as a nod to home-cooking, and in the member’s bar and cinema; brass, for more luxury and warmth.

The design concept of the Olympic Studios, London’s new Cinema, Members Bar and Café & Dining Rooms, has been created by Simone McEwan, previously Concept Designer at Selfridges and Design Director at Soho House Group, who embraced the legacy of the building and translated this into every facet of the Olympic experience. 

This is her first stand alone project. Simone also consults for Studioilse, Hobbs and Fortnum & Mason. Her philosophy is to be able to create an experience, to provide a stage for human connection and to tell a story. The design concept focuses on reinstating the building as a public space and centre for the local community by creating moments of theatricality and glamour alongside a welcoming domesticity and high level of comfort.

The Olympic Studios is a community hub and a space for cultural exchange, providing warmth, comfort and continuity for the locals across generations. It’s a meeting ground for good food, serious cinema and a place to reconnect with friends and make new ones, rather like being welcomed into a large family.

The Olympic Studios has a sense of permanence, a strong connection to the heritage of the place but firmly looking forward to create its own stories and provide the cultural glue for the inhabitants. It’s accessible and inclusive, welcoming and friendly, and a place to have fun.

The design treatment allows moments of drama, such as the dark and shadowy lobby which opens out into contrasting spaces to encourage a sense of wonder and anticipation, be it the light-filled café and dining rooms or the throbbing red heart of the cinema, mixed with domesticity; warm and inviting areas, comfortable seating and friendly welcome throughout. 

Olympic Studios

117 Church Road, Barnes

SW13 9HL

All images courtesy of Simone McEwan

Photography by Paul Raeside