James Latham supplies Decospan wardrobe panels and HIMACS bathroom surfaces for ultra-modern Barbican Estate apartment refurbishment.

Residential renovations specialist, Francisco Sutherland Architects, was recently approached by a private client to refurbish the interiors of their ultra-modern penthouse duplex in Frobisher Crescent, Barbican, London.

What began as a simple redesign of the property’s bathrooms quickly evolved into an ambitious project, including: floor replacement, designing bespoke oak wardrobes and specifying a new kitchen.

At the heart of the brief was the aim to achieve a cool, contemporary and consistent aesthetic, with an uncompromising focus on quality.

As lead architect, Ana Francisco Sutherland, explains, “The client, rightly, expected excellence throughout the space, which led us to source only premium fixtures, fitting and finishes. Product selection is a challenging process, and attention to detail was crucial. It was from here we started to collaborate with partners with a reputation of providing the very best in their category. This included James Latham (Lathams), whose incredible knowledge of decorative materials helped achieve the desired outcomes.”

As a leading UK distributor of high-quality architectural materials, from this initial engagement, Lathams played a central role in the project, recommending suitable materials for both the bespoke wardrobes (Decospan Veneered Panels) and bathroom finishes (HIMACS Solid Surface).

Style and Substance

Exploring the architect’s design proposition further, a semi-circular theme was developed to evoke the shape of Frobisher Crescent, complemented with a subtle palate of greys and whites, accentuated with features in warming oak and walnut.

One unique element, central to the design, was a set of oak wardrobes built into the apartment’s master bedroom. Designed to an exacting set of dimensions, Sutherland realised she would need to work with a material which achieved the look and feel of oak, but is lighter and easier to work with.

She approached Lathams, where the expert specification team was able to identify a perfect solution: Decospan Querkus Oak Natural. A Lathams UK exclusive, Decospan’s responsibly-sourced Querkus range combines an MDF core with natural timber veneers to produce a panel which offers a real oak finish, at a fraction of the weight and carbon cost. Furthermore, it has lower long-term maintenance requirements and greater adaptability for future modification.

Surpassing her requirements, Sutherland adds: “The finish achieved on the wardrobes is incredible. I was particularly impressed with the quality of the veneer, the authentic feel of the surface and how well-bonded it is to the MDF core. Furthermore, the uniformity of the graining has enabled us to achieve a curvaceous consistency, fluidity and rigidity which would have been near-impossible with solid oak timber.”

Form Meets Function

Lathams also advised on the surfacing for the apartment’s two bathrooms. The architect was looking for a surface which balanced form and function, able to withstand the daily rigours of a regularly used environment, whilst maintaining its visual appeal and guaranteeing safe and hygienic spaces.

HIMACS is renowned in the global specification community for manufacturing fantastic-looking solid surfaces which also deliver maximum resistance.

Working to the architect’s calming, grey-toned aesthetic, the Lathams team consulted with the specialist surface fabricator, Deeley Fabrication MK, helping them select the perfect colour match.

HIMACS Alpine White, an elegant and understated décor, with integrated sink, was chosen and applied across all the bathroom’s vanity units. Made from a blend of 75% natural minerals and pigments set in an acrylic matrix, it’s a tough, germ-resistant and easy-to-clean surface. Worked from large sheets, in a similar way to wood, it can be cut to fit almost any angle without compromising on performance.

Commenting on the use of HIMACS Alpine White, Sutherland says: “Selecting materials appropriate for bathroom or washroom environments requires a careful balance. You want something which looks great but can also be easily maintained to the highest levels of hygiene. HIMACS has a well-deserved reputation for high-resistance surfaces which also look stunning. The subtlety of this surface complements all the other elements in these rooms, stylishly providing an unobtrusive, but essential function.”

In conclusion, focusing on Lathams involvement with the project, specification manager Debbie Northall says: “Francisco Sutherland Architects’ team came to us with a very clear, specific vision of how they wanted the space to look. Both exclusive to Lathams in the UK, Decospan and HIMACS are long-time partners and their products are of the highest quality, both in terms of looks and performance, making them a natural choice for this project. It’s yet another example of how we’re helping UK specifiers find materials that are the right fit for their requirements.”

To find out more about Lathams’ unrivalled catalogue of decorative materials, visit its Digital Showroom, a powerful new platform to enhance product selection.