Space odyssey: Smallbone’s ground-breaking new retail concept

Words by
Jemima Sissons
Photography by

4th January 2021

Discover how the bespoke kitchen and furniture brand is fusing interiors, art, fashion Michelin-starred food and VIP screenings in an exclusive corner of Knightsbridge

Well-polished Knightsbridge is no stranger to well-heeled boutiques, soigné ateliers and one of the biggest “concept stores” in the world — the grande dame that is Harrods. Yet there is, quite literally, a new kid on the block, which is set to offer a groundbreaking and forward-thinking twist on retail. Unlike many other concept spaces, its roots aren’t in fashion, but interiors. Famed for its hand-built kitchens and interior architecture, Smallbone has now taken over a vast four-storey 15,000sq ft space on the corner of Ovington Gardens and Brompton Road and with it will come a whole new vision. Smallbone will be offering everything to make the home beautiful — whether it’s the kitchen, dressing room, study or media salon. 

However, it is also spreading its wings to offer so much more than elegant design for one’s abode. For starters, the enormous space allows for luxury cars and sweeping artworks to be on display in a gallery-like setting. Then there is Samsung’s “The Wall” — the biggest such screen installation in the world and an awe-inspiring floor-to-ceiling cinema-quality leviathan, which gives an almost unparalleled opportunity for screenings, as well as streamed concerts and artwork displays.

Space odyssey: Smallbone’s ground-breaking new retail concept
A world first, Samsung’s “The Wall” comprises a six-metre screen, which will allow opportunities for private screenings and art displays

Invited guests can enjoy collaborations with florists, drinks brands and chefs, art talks and soirees with industry mavericks, intimate fashion shows and salons with thought-provoking discussions. VIP ateliers are also available for private clients. Choosing the marble or rare stone on your whip-smart kitchen island will only be one aspect. You might as easily come away with a new bespoke walk-in wine cellar as a limited-edition print by an artist, skills honed from an omakase masterclass with a Michelin-starred Japanese chef, or maybe the latest Aston Martin on display in the building’s atrium. 

Bringing this new 360° retail element to the judicious patrons of SW7 and beyond is Ron Shemesh, chief value creation officer at Lux Group Holdings, Smallbone’s parent company. 

“The aim is for the showroom to offer a shopping experience in which visitors can immerse themselves in a multi-sensory experience,” Shemesh explains. “Rather than simply browsing kitchens, we are placing clients in a space in which they will enjoy spending time, where they can explore, unhurried, everything we and our partners can offer, and where bespoke creativity can be appreciated in person.” 

Then there is Samsung’s ‘The Wall’ — the biggest such screen installation in the world and an awe-inspiring floor-to-ceiling cinema-quality leviathan

The long-term goal for Lux Group is to further engage and invest in luxury lifestyle brands and cross-pollinate luxury offerings from art, home design, joinery, soft furnishings and other sectors, so this can be seen as the start of a new ethos for the 42-year-old Smallbone brand. 

Opening in January 2021, the expansive new showroom provides an impressive stage for this new venture. Original architectural elements such as cast iron pillars and wrought iron beams bring an industrial aesthetic to the vast space. There are nods to the company’s rural craft roots, too, with a wall featuring hundreds of wood panels made in its Devizes workshop.

As you enter the vast space, you are enveloped in deliciously scented air, courtesy of the sculptural floral works of McQueens flowers — known for dressing hotels such as Claridge’s and the Mandarin Oriental. The flower company’s VIP concierge will be on offer to arrange weekly or one-off deliveries of flowers, as well as private bespoke tutorials for all budding florists. 

Space odyssey: Smallbone’s ground-breaking new retail concept
The heady scents of McQueens flowers — known for dressing hotels such as Claridge’s and the Mandarin Oriental — greet visitors

The £2m screen that makes up Samsung’s “The Wall” is unmissable, an 8K display measuring six metres across. Using micro LED technology to deliver a clear picture, it contains more than 34m pixels, enabling ultra chroma technology to bring super-vivid colours. Guests will be able to sit back and enjoy anything from the latest James Bond film to exclusive screened concerts.

Equally showstopping is the bar, crafted from American black walnut with ebonised stringing and dovetail wedges, with the surrounding walls clad in sleek Brazilian Sequoia brown granite cut along the grain. Here, guests can take part in masterclasses with mixologists and expert-led tastings of super rare spirits and wines. 

“It has ample space for demonstrations, tastings and private dining experiences. The past months have given us time to dream up ambitious new plans,” Shemesh explains. 

Space odyssey: Smallbone’s ground-breaking new retail concept
The showstopping bar is crafted in American black walnut, with the surrounding walls clad in Brazilian Sequoia brown granite cut along the grain

It is also something of a stellar party space, so expect collaborations with interior and fashion designers, and luxury brands to host whatever form of soiree the current challenging times will allow (hopefully its full capacity can be showcased by spring 2021). Keen to champion all forms of art, Shemesh says they are in talks with well-known galleries and curators to put on rolling shows and private views. 

When it comes to cuisine, guests can look forward to invitation-only dinners from Michelin-starred chefs, as well as everything from sushi-tasting menus to masterclasses with some of London’s top culinary talent. 

The brand’s heritage, of course, lies in kitchens and these will be heralded in all their glory. It is, after all, a company built on fine joinery and craftsmanship, started in 1978 in the Wiltshire village of Devizes. On display will be its stand-out new Icarus collection. Alongside this, customers will be able to browse the new Mulberry, Naples, Brasserie and Macassar Collection ranges.

Space odyssey: Smallbone’s ground-breaking new retail concept

Smallbone's new Mulberry Collection range

Each has a very different look and feel. Mulberry, for example, is sleek and streamlined, with its signature grey stain overlaying sustainable European oak cabinetry, while Naples features slats of walnut or oak and has a contemporary feel. The Brasserie kitchen, with its emphasis on wood, is warm and welcoming, while the Macassar is crafted from rare, dramatically striped ivory wood veneer. 

“By seeing our products in person, we hope that people will be able to appreciate the creativity and craftsmanship that goes into all our work, from how each piece of wood is selected by hand for the quality of its grain, to how our cabinetry is constructed and perfected by our makers,” adds Shemesh. 

There are other collaborations, too. The sleek floors are by Senso, the world’s first sustainable and fully recyclable natural flooring, made using poured resin that renders them highly durable and able to withstand many years of family wear and tear. The showroom will showcase Senso’s Grain collection, inspired by centuries-old Italian terrazzo floors, and Superquartz, which combines finely ground quartz and biopolymer resin to create a unique fragmented floor pattern. 

By seeing our products in person, we hope that people will be able to appreciate the creativity and craftsmanship that goes into all our work

Meanwhile, Italian company Officine Gullo — which specialises in high-end metal kitchen collections, professional ranges and specialist cooking appliances — finds an accommodating space here. A classical freestanding prosciutto slicer and professional barbecue are showcased alongside luxury kitchen accessories.

Ultimately, says Shemesh, the aim is for visitors to come away inspired by its ambitious vision. “We want the showroom to feel like the most desirable home, with beautifully curated interiors accompanied by hand-picked personal touches such as one-off artwork on the walls.”  

Watch this space... 

Smallbone is one of the official partners of Sphere's 2020 winter issue.