Today, we have opened our new Members’ Room, a characteristic V&A mix of heritage, modernity and design ingenuity. The innovative design by architects Carmody Groarke converts a magnificent top-lit gallery on the top floor of Aston Webb’s Grade I Listed 1909 wing into a beautiful new dedicated space for V&A Members, outfitted with bespoke designed furniture and fittings.
Formerly a study room between 1916 – 21, and later the National Art Library offices, the transformation returns this room to its core principles as a place for contemplation, creative thought and enjoyment. Reinventing this vast space, the room brings cutting edge design together with contemporary furniture and interior decoration, whilst accentuating the qualities of the original building.
Members are able to enjoy a full range of casual and formal dining options provided by Benugo with table service. The hospitality offers range from hot and cold breakfast options, dedicated lunch menu, kids’ choices for families, an all-day café offer including cakes, and cream teas, a bar, and for the first time, a Friday evening set menu.
The new room is a cornerstone offer as part of a range of V&A Membership benefits that include free entry to exhibitions, a 10% discount in the V&A Shop, a range of dedicated events and subscription to the V&A Magazine.
Following hugely popular exhibitions such as David Bowie Is, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, and the launch of the V&A Exhibition Road Quarter this summer, the Museum has increased its visitor figures and gained the support of a significant number of new Members. The new V&A Members’ Room reflects the important role that Members play in supporting the Museums activities and collections.
Designed by Carmody Groarke, the creative adaption of the original gallery is part of the natural continuum of the Museum fabric; new designs subtly restore and retain existing character whilst bespoke lighting and furniture bring visitors closer to brilliant design.
The floor has been created using reclaimed parquet flooring taken from across the Museum and raised by almost half a metre to give views from the large existing windows to The Sackler Courtyard, the world’s first porcelain public courtyard, paved in 11,000 handmade tiles which opened this June.
The centrepiece of the Members’ Room is a monolithic terrazzo bar, a contemporary interpretation of the white marble entrance staircase to the room. The bar includes prosecco on tap, a range of bottled beers, wine, and bespoke cocktails including a unique Queen Victoria and Prince Albert cocktail, inspired by the Museum’s royal namesakes.
Sitting above the 20th century collections, the furniture provides a subtle link to the era, including a recommissioning of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto’s stackable 403 armchair from the early 1930s. Other pieces include chairs and marble coffee tables designed by Carmody Groarke and bar stools by HAY.
Large mirror installations create new perspectives to view the Museum, both inside and outside, via a light well that connects to the existing galleries below and original gallery light fittings have been reinterpreted in the design of a new fluted-glass luminaire hanging in glowing clusters overhead, designed by Carmody Groarke. A beautiful Alessi tea service, designed by Kristiina Lassus, brings hints of designer Richard Sapper up to the present day. The crockery is from Stoke-on-Trent based manufacturer Churchill’s, and the cutlery from Jasper Morrison’s cutlery collaboration with Muji.
The new Members’ Reception Desk is located downstairs in the former Exhibition Road Entrance Lobby, recently remodelled by Reed Watts Architects.
The new V&A Members’ Room has been made possible by the generosity of V&A Members.