Yinka Ilori transforms afternoon tea at Bulgari Hotel, London
September 2022 sees the Bulgari Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge celebrate its tenth anniversary through a collaboration with multidisciplinary designer Yinka Ilori, whose exuberant vision for an afternoon tea is served in the Bulgari Lounge.
Bulgari commissioned the London-based British-Nigerian designer to use his distinctive visual language, which draws on his multicultural heritage, in a unique interpretation of the popular afternoon repast. Ilori’s work is underpinned by a firm belief that art and design should be accessible to all; using the city as his canvas, he reimagines spaces to encourage a sense of community and invite audiences to engage with his work and its surroundings.
Ilori’s joyful combination of colour and pattern perfectly complements the elegant glamour of the Bulgari Lounge, which has recently been redecorated as part of its anniversary celebration. Traditional afternoon tea stands have been reimagined as bold artworks in the form of fantastically colourful stacked spheres – a motif that pulses with energy and life, and recurs with an exciting takeover of the building’s façade, as well as on the linen napkins.
Ilori comments, ‘I am extremely excited to have worked with Bulgari Hotel London for its momentous tenth anniversary. My designs for this collaboration celebrate London’s cultural mosaic and the joy of coming together over food. The tea stands are based on the geometry of the sphere and the meeting of different cultures, and I hope people will gather at the hotel and enjoy a vibrant and colourful dining experience through the afternoon tea.’ Fittingly for a brand whose heritage is rooted in high jewellery, the cakes presented by Bulgari are gem-like – neon-hued and dazzling, and designed to complement the striking geometry and colouring of Ilori’s work.
The designer joined forces with award-winning Italian pastry chef and chocolatier-in-residence, Gianluca Fusto, whose carefully considered creations, sweet and savoury, are a delight to the palate as well as the eye. Guests may select from a menu of fine and rare teas, including a Scottish black tea named ‘Nine Dancing Ladies’ of which only one kilo a year is made.
For those that prefer a different kind of drink in the afternoon, Ruinart champagne and cocktails are also listed. The launch of this special afternoon tea experience coincides with the opening of Ilori’s first institutional show at the London Design Museum (showing now, ‘Yinka Ilori: Parables for Happiness’), as the city also celebrates the London Design Festival 2022 and gears up for Frieze London.
Which makes the Bulgari Lounge the perfect haven for a refreshment stop as you take in the capital’s art and design events. Should you wish to take a piece of Ilori’s work home, a limited-edition of 200 Yinka Ilori x Bulgari Hotel London napkin sets are available to buy. §