In a previous life, the building was the home to Imperial Chemical Industries, the country’s creators and largest manufacturers at the time, of the familiar and enduring material Perspex. And the vast apartment itself? It was the Chairman’s Office. With spectacular views of the Thames, Grade-II Listed 9 Millbank was originally designed by Frank Baines, a staunch supporter of the conservation and preservation of buildings for which he had a global reputation. The Portland-stone exterior is flanked by 1920’s sculptures from Charles Sargent Jagger. The four effigies represent the industries of chemistry, agriculture, marine transport, and construction, or the four pillars of ICI.
It is a very considerate exterior and with the apartment named after the 18th century artist, Thomas Gainsborough, who was known for his inventive and original approaches, we needed a fitting ambience to match. The first floor of the apartment boasts an open-plan entertaining and living room with parquet herringbone parquet flooring. An original 1920s stained glass roundel depicting the allegory of Britannia is set in the middle of The Gainsborough’s sweeping 10ft windows.
As a team, we approached this project as a restoration and we worked to capture the grand majesty of the original features. The apartment was already adorned with rich walnut panelling and intricately floral-carved door frames; I wanted to ensure our designs for this extraordinary space allowed the beautiful bones of the building to breathe and take centre stage.