Shawn Hausman first made his name by co-launching and overseeing the creative direction of Area, the most experimental, outlandish, art-plus-fashion, uptown-meets-downtown nightclub of 80s New York City. Since the early 90s, his eponymous design company has brought a uniquely experiential and idiosyncratic approach to the interiors of The Standard hotels in the US, as well as a wide range of other high-profile hotels, restaurants and bars throughout the States. His latest project is the interior design of The Standard, London, located on the corner of Argyle Street and Euston Road, in the throbbing heart of King’s Cross.
Back in the 80s and 90s, this once-notorious district was the Capital’s epicenter of drugs, vice, sleaze and crime–utilized during the 80s as a gritty backdrop in British films such as Mona Lisa, for example, or poignantly crooned about in the pop ballad King’s Cross by the Pet Shop Boys. One of Alexander McQueen’s earliest, edgiest catwalk shows took place in a clapped-out warehouse building nearby, in the mid 90s, before the late designer became world famous.
21st Century King’s Cross, however, offers a very different proposition; an array of fashionable boutiques, restaurants, bars, The British Library, a cinema, galleries and the globally respected Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, have all moved into the neighborhood in recent years. And all of them are to be found within a stone’s throw of the site of The Standard, London.
Our new hotel is housed in an iconic Brutalist building which was formerly the headquarters of Camden Council and a public library. Ever since it was erected in the early 70s, its uncompromising appearance had been adored by some, deemed an eyesore by others. By the time of its municipal usefulness coming to an end–the council staff relocated to shiny new offices behind King’s Cross station a few years ago—decades of traffic pollution had left its once-gleaming concrete exterior dulled and dusty, its interior was creaky and leaky due to a lack of ongoing maintenance. Many speculated this crumbling concrete structure was destined to be demolished.
For Hausman, however, the building itself and its incredible Zone 1 location, presented a mind-boggling mix of creative opportunities, as well as challenges (not least its ‘Listed’ status, which prohibits certain structural alterations ever being made). Here, Hausman discusses his initial perceptions about the project. He also reveals various inspirations and references, which led to design decisions intended to maximize human interaction and enjoyment of The Standard, London.