Refurbishment of a Grade II listed Victorian hotel

The Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel is situated in a Grade II listed building, in the historic ‘Old City’ area of Bristol. Ian Haigh and Central Design Studio have combined the buildings rich history with the vibrant street-art scene to influence their refurbishment and used furniture manufacturer, Sylvan to bring their vision to life. 

As their starting point, Haigh and Central Design Studio were inspired by the ornate Victorian architecture, but wanted to mix this with the strong, artistic spirit that exists in Bristol.  The result is a fresh lease of life for the locally renowned building, with a subversive creative streak combining to dramatic effect.Hotel bedrooms by Central Design StudioWorking with Bristol-based gallery and internationally celebrated street art festival Upfest to curate the art, the building features over 500 pieces by local artists, including bespoke commissioned installations by Gemma Compton and Cai Burton.  In addition, Central Design Studio has collaborated with emerging textile designers Kitty McCall and Midula Dey to develop unique upholstery fabrics for the guestrooms and public areas. The building will also feature wallpaper prints by Elli Popp, and printed fabrics by Claire Gaudion and Jon Burgerman.

Furniture and lighting for the project has been bespoke designed by Ian and the Central Design Studio team, including a feature chandelier in reception with handmade glass panels by artisan Jo Downs.

Sylvan were confronted with new and fresh challenges as the project incorporated an eclectic mix of materials including metal work, bespoke laminates, plywood and fabrics which utilised skills from the across the factory to ensure the successful delivery of the project.Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel 30 (1) webThe restaurant and bar is a Keepers, an F&B concept developed in-house by Accor. In line with the Keepers ethos, the space features an eclectic mix of found objects and salvaged materials, inspired by the famous St Nicholas Markets – or St Nicks as it’s known locally – opposite. Overall, the restaurant and bar has a relaxed neighbourhood atmosphere, intended to instantly feel like a firm local favourite.

Interior Designer Background

Designer Ian Haigh established Central Design Studio in 2010 and they specialise in leisure and hospitality design. Over the last five years, Central Design Studio has carved a reputation for designing relaxed and informal interiors. They, very purposefully, do not just have a ‘signature style’, but rather an underlying design philosophy often focussing more on how a space feels, not just how it looks.

Working with artists, artisans, craftsmen, manufacturers and builders, they pride themselves on delivering personal and coherent projects.Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel 21 (2) webFurniture Manufacturer Background

Sylvan was founded in 1995 by John Gregory and Peter Fowler both of whom had previously lectured in Furniture Studies. The company now specialises in manufacturing hotel and contract furniture and have worked with interior designers, architects and other companies on a wide variety of projects.  Sylvan obviously work with larger chains such as Accor but also work exceptionally well with small independent chains and boutique style properties.

For more information about Sylvan visit


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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