Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Savoy Is Given a Grilling

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Savoy Is Given a Grilling

Article excerpt

Byline: ANTHEA MASSEY

BARBARA Barry is the Los Angeles interior designer chosen by The Savoy for the tricky business of bringing the hallowed Savoy Grill, that most English of institutions, into the 21st century.

On her first day back in England, straight from the airport, she headed to The Strand, eager to see the completed pound sterling1 million project.

Barry is not a woman to be intimidated by history. This chic and exuberant Californian, with a broad smile and a classic haircut, swept into the stately, 100-year-old hotel like a West Coast celeb. There were kisses all round and whoops of delight at the sight of her finished project. Until she saw the flower arrangements.

She didn't like the flowers. Large, sumptuous bunches of dark red roses set off with long wisps of grass were displayed around the room in square glass vases.

On each table a small fluted silver vase was filled with the same red roses surrounded by a stiff arrangement of green leaves. She ripped one apart, discarding the leaves. The flowers, apparently, should flow and have a more relaxed feel.

The manager scurried around, and a meeting was instantly arranged with the restaurant's florist. The flowers would now get the Barbara Barry treatment.

In the US, she is a household name. One of the country's top interior designers, her style is synonymous with a quiet, understated elegance, with a touch of retro Hollywood glamour.

She is often mentioned in the same breath as Martha Stewart. Her name has become a brand, attached to a vast range of products: everything from furniture and carpets, to glassware and textiles.

Barry made her excuses for keeping me waiting during the flower rearranging. "It is important to get the details right. That's why women make good designers; they pay attention to detail," she says.

The news that the Savoy Grill had appointed top chef Marcus Wareing - one of Gordon Ramsay's proteges - to update the menu and a Californian interior designer to revamp the restaurant brought a flood of letters to the 'It is important to get the details right. That's why women make good designers; they pay attention to detail'

hotel's owner, Blackstone. From the tone of the protest, you would have thought that the barbarians were at the gate.

But the natives have nothing to worry about.

Wareing has promised to keep the Grill's famous meat trolley, and Barry's redesign of the room, where Margaret Thatcher and the Majors are regulars, is subtle and grownup.

Barry is no stranger to iconic projects. She was responsible for the internal refurbishment of a house by Richard Neutra - one of the leading exponents of the modern movement in Santa Monica.

The house had fallen into disrepair, and keeping the house's strong link with its lush, tropical garden, was Barry's objective. …

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