Paint It Black

concrete tunes into British influences from classic punk and heavy metal to glam rock to create a series of moody spaces within The Perception bar and cocktail lounge at W London-Leicester Square.

Prepare for sensory overload. Amsterdam-based multidisciplinary design firm concrete, a former Gold Key Designer of the Year, is known for its inventive solutions and forward-thinking concepts. The Perception at W London–Leicester Square is no exception. Located on the hotel’s first floor, the Soho neighborhood bar and lounge reflects many facets of modern London, translating the city’s diverse eras and trends into a transitional hub comprised of seven high-energy zones.

Each pocket represents a unique aspect of British culture. Nearly 230 ft. of dazzling gold curtain curving around the cluster of intimate spaces creates a cohesive flow throughout the 4,900-plus-sq.-ft. hotspot. Here’s a digital tour through the striking venue’s series of transportive experiences.

Runway and W Lounge
Low seats rest on petrol-colored rugs at the lounge’s Runway entry, a broad passage extending from the welcome area. Black leather upholstery stitching in a Union Jack shaped pattern immediately sets the national tone.

Runway | The Perception | W London-Leicester Square | concrete

Runway. All photos: Starwoord/courtesy of concrete

The double-height lounge itself is semi-secluded thanks to a two-story cabinet with shelves that display the U.K. flag. English timber flooring extends along the wall and ceiling for a modern take on a traditional surface.

A step up, a wooden podium is home to leather booths arranged alongside the window. The design team gave each black stained oak table its own lamp to create a communal sphere for working, reading or dining. Twelve high tables, decked out with more than 24,000 British pennies, serve as the design’s centerpiece.

Eight different types of black bar seats placed in small groups around the tables imbue an eclectic vibe. Some stools are paired with designs by locally based product designer Jasper Morrison for a tailored effect. Flexible table set-ups—including an arrangement that forms a nearly 36-ft.-long reading surface—make the room adaptable to virtually any occasion. Circular pendants suspended at various angles add a modern sense of luxury overhead, while ceiling mounted fixtures can separate the room with customizable backdrops for a more exclusive feel.

Playback
Marking the starting point of the beaded curtain, this semi-private space’s curved sofas and circular light track separate the area from the wider lounge. A stained oak cabinet houses turntables and an extensive record collection, while black leather railing integrates the plug-ins for music equipment, which is placed on top of acrylic lids.

Playback | The Perception | W London-Leicester Square | concrete

Playback

Inside the space, a tailor-made sofa encircles a contemporary fireplace. Narrow-beam spotlights on three circular light tracks highlight polished chrome details overhead. A black marble cabinet top at the base of the fireplace functions as a side table and complements the black stained wooden floor.

Playback | The Perception | W London-Leicester Square | concrete

Playback

Recessed spotlights are also incorporated into the waving line of brass beads, imbuing a luxe glow. The space is also equipped with wireless headphones for silent discos.

Neat Bar
Designed as a hybrid between a classic English pub and a high-end cocktail bar, this circular zone riffs on natural tones with chevron teak and green marble. Brass foot rails and custom barstools with green leather upholstery add a classic touch to the modern bar.

Neat Bar | The Perception | W London-Leicester Square | concrete

Neat Bar

On top of a central island, green marble covers stepped, back-lit shelves displaying colorful mixers. A bottle rack above the bar is clad with glass panels ranging from lime to emerald. For the side of the bar facing the window, the designers added a raised floor with dark green carpet and armchairs upholstered with green leather and plush velvet.

Normal Gets You Nowhere
The design team took cues from the British punk era to give this booth its edge. Located adjacent to the bar, the space’s curved walls and steps are covered with silver-metallic, stud-look details, while the seating is upholstered in black leather.

Normal Gets You Nowhere | The Perception | W London-Leicester Square | concrete

Normal Gets You Nowhere

A black stained oak cabinet opens to create a DJ station. Circular fixtures and a cheeky green neon wall design amp up the party atmosphere.

Normal Gets You Nowhere | The Perception | W London-Leicester Square | concrete

Normal Gets You Nowhere

Pillow Talk
Here the designers created a cozy sense of escapism with an oversized oval daybed surrounded by ottomans. High-end materials in pastel colors add a hint of elegance, while light bulbs suspended from the ceiling imbue a dreamy feel.

Pillow Talk | The Perception | W London-Leicester Square | concrete

Pillow Talk

Wrapped into the curves of the beaded curtain, a brass-framed daybed and a loveseat upholstered in nude-colored fabric flank the area. Behind the daybed’s seat back, a pink marble surface serves as a table top. Piles of fluffy cushions, flying feathers and a nest-inspired lamp evoke a playful pillow fight.

Color Me Bad
Talk about attitude. For this space, the designers wanted to embody the spirit of rebellion and revolution, so they decked it out with flesh-colored leather sofas in three bold tattoo prints, all of which were designed for the hotel by Soho’s Frith Street Studio. Those classical English patterns and ribbed upholstery techniques are amplified by a spherical mirror ceiling, while dark wooden floor panels conceal the joinery between the sofas.

Color Me Bad | The Perception | W London-Leicester Square | concrete

Color Me Bad

Next to the booths, a contoured sofa wraps around a column. A window niche covered in black leather cushions and illuminated by an abstract neon Union Jack artwork—which creates a rose-tinted, filtered effect on the glass overlooking Leicester Square—pumps up the rock star vibe.

Revolve
Transitioning from grunge to glam, this double-height VIP area - is activated by a giant disco ball and dynamic lighting, casting a shimmering effect on the golden curtain. A rotating, red wooden platform in the middle of the room supports stepped seating that can face outwards to provide front-row seats or inwards for a view of the lounge. Recessed lights accent the platforms steps and sides.

Revolve | The Perception | W London-Leicester Square | concrete

Revolve 

Along the wall, a hidden bar is covered in black striped wallpaper. Its floor-to-ceiling doors open to reveal a golden interior and shelves reminiscent of the dressing room mirrors used in nearby theaters. The brass-clad bar front is topped by a black surface that can be folded inward, while the back wall of the bar is covered in golden mirror panels and black shelves, highlighting the bottles from underneath. For functionality, the designers added a black partition that can separate the space for private events.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS

DESIGN FIRM
concrete: Rob Wagemans, Melanie Knüwer, Hilka Ackermann, Eva Stekelenburg, Sofie Ruytenberg

ARCHITECT
Falconer Chester Hall

PROJECT MANAGER
Future 54

GENERAL CONTRACTOR AND JOINERY
Beck Interiors

DESIGN CONSULTANTS
Andrew Baker (design)
Clarke Saunders Associates (acoustic)
Ian Black Consulting (structural)
Maurice Brill Lighting Design Ltd. (lighting)
Strange Hill (bar)

ENGINEERS
Building Services Group (MEP)
Michael Slattery Associates (fire protection)

BUILDING CONTROL
Bureau Veritas

AUDIO/VISUAL
Limelight Automation Ltd

ART
Frith Street Studio
Kemp London

BAR
Concept Refrigeration

CURTAIN
Edge Interiors Ltd.

FLOORING
Hakwood NL

FURNITURE
Ambience design
Blue Dot
Channels design
Hay
Jasper Morrison for Emeco
Jasper Morrison for Magis
LaCividina
Muuto
Norr 11
RHA Furniture Ltd
Sancal
Tacchini
Wylies

LIGHTING
Frandsen
Ingo Maurer
JSPR lighting
Tom Dixon
Wästberg

SIGNAGE
Kemp London