London's new and unique Ashberg mansion
When a buyer is spending US$35 million on a turnkey townhouse or superyacht, they expect above-and-beyond attention to detail. However, standard luxury features such as hand-cut chandeliers, marble bathrooms, full size swimming pool or a Crestron Technology System are sublime touches, but they are also often taken for granted.
Modern clients are often sophisticated international super-rich individuals, and they have their own clear cut desires, anticipations and caprices. On one occasion, a designer struggled to sell interiors of a new superyacht to a demanding client. Nothing seemed to work, until it was discovered that this wealthy person absolutely loved their dog. So all the interiors designed became a nod to the dog.
But not for a serious professional. The key to any good space is having a natural flow combined with plenty of light - following the traditional power of Feng Shui. And this exactly is the design vernacular that was implemented at Ashberg House, a project that took three years to complete. The US$35 million new-build on Chelsea’s Cathcart Road, London, is named after the famous Ashberg diamond, an amber-coloured, 101-carat diamond once included in the Russian crown jewels.
The five-bedroom, five-floor home is characterised by an aesthetic of glass inside and out that gives an amazing feeling of space, maximising the flow of natural light around the rooms. Defining the space first is the key to having a good flow in a space.
With the open nature of Ashberg, there are vantage points where a visitor can see into several rooms at once. Ashberg’s design captures these vignettes, focusing on the artistry of the architecture, and allowing one to see into spaces over five floors of the house.
It all comes together as a home, centring the property around its staircase - an important consideration. The staircase’s position is very important as it dictates how many corridors the house will need. Locating it more centrally, as it was done at Ashberg, excludes the necessity of having as many linking paths as you would if you had it in the corner of the building.
In the central mezzanine is an enormous cascading chandelier handcrafted by glass maker Lasvit, which connects the ground floor with the garden below. Composed of over 140 glass ‘leaves’ in graduated colour, the ‘Falling Leaf Chandelier’ imitates the foliage of the trees in the garden.
In fact, more than ninety percent of the furniture and fittings are bespoke designed by Morpheus. The fitted cabinetry was made in Austria, the metal, upholstery and timber comes from the Far East, while the fine glassware hails from artisans in the Czech Republic. At this level, everything is custom made.
The swimming pool in the basement is arguably one of the home’s focal points. With undertones of James Bond, reminiscent of the sleek black oil spills in the opening credits of The World is Not Enough, the pool reflects the ceiling’s black-polished plaster.
In many conversions the client feels like they are going into the bowels of the Earth when they descend to the basement, but at Ashberg you have still got natural light. The pool was inspired by sculptor Richard Wilson’s 20:50, a permanent exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery made from recycled oil.
As a counterpoint to Chelsea’s traditional red-brick Victorian villas, Ashberg House certainly challenges the neighbourhood status quo. According to a lot of prospective buyers, they have not seen this before to this level in London - it is the rarity and uniqueness that is appealing.