Siblings Zoë and Layo Paskin have built a portfolio of venues, from award-winning nightclub The End to Michelin-starred restaurant Evelyn’s Table. Now they have launched their own creative hospitality studio, Paskin & Associates, to coincide with the opening of their first hotel project, Gleneagles Townhouse in Edinburgh.
Your family has worked in the design and creative industries for several generations. How did this influence you and your interests, and how did you find your way to hospitality? It was a very big part of our childhood, how we were raised, stories and family meals. In our home we were a mix of second and third generation immigrants who all came to London in the late 19e and early 20e century. My family was defined by who they were, what they did, and where they wanted to go rather than everything they owned. And for this purpose, the main thing was to work with their hands, from physical labor to music and especially in the kitchen. They all brought different cultural influences.
The story begins in 1948, in Hoxton Square, in the cabinetmaking business of our grandfather Lewis Paskin, Richard Douglas & Sons, in the now famous industrial district of Hoxton Square. He then moved on to the architecture firm of our father Douglas Paskin, PKS Architects, which he launched in 1973. And our grandmother was a pianist, our mother a writer…
The End nightclub was your first big project. What prompted you to open a club? Music. That was the other formative part of growing up in London. Electro, hip hop, rare groove, acid house, everything was part of my youth and they exploded on stage from my adolescence. I threw parties at 3 p.m., bought records every weekend with all the money I could muster, and throughout college I threw weekly club nights. Our dad came home a day after I got home from college and said he had just seen those old stables between Covent Garden and Holborn and said it would make a great nightclub, the rest as they say belongs to history…
How have your tastes evolved since this first adventure? What has remained the same? Everything we do and have done involves others; it is the combined talent that creates the whole. Our goal is to always collaborate, develop, build and deliver unique places that are creatively best in class. We tend not to repeat our ideas, each project is its own character in its own story.
In addition to clubs, you have opened restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and now a hotel. How is opening a café different from opening a bar, a restaurant different from a hotel? Is there anything coherent in your approach to any new project? Bars and cafes share something very similar in that when people like them, they can become part of their weekly or even daily routine. It’s a little less true for restaurants, but they can only go down a few times a month and hotels a little less unless you’re very lucky. But what is essential for us is that you want people to fall in love with them, the more they feel connected to what we are trying to do, even subconsciously, the more you can build something.
Can you explain your process when creating a new space, from the original idea to opening night? We take the building first and think about how we respond to it. Then we look at the core of what we offer. It all starts with sketches.
What did you want to say with the design and aesthetics of Gleneagles Townhouse? We oversaw all branding and identity for the restaurant and bars, working in tandem with the team there and in Ennismore. The architect, Charlie North, has done a fantastic job of bringing it all back to life, but with a new identity – the building has a real presence and is beautifully ornate. We wanted there to be a reaction to that and create an instant classic in the look of The Spence. The logo is a nod to the townhouse’s history as the British Linen Bank. We also chose colors that we thought would add a softer touch to the grandeur of the space.
The lamplighters allowed us to be more playful, taking the narrative and character (the Leerie) from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem. We also looked into the colors of the stunning Scottish sky you see on the roof, which is framed by architect David Bryce’s Corinthian columns.
Did you draw elements and influences from the Grande Dame Gleneagles property or was it important that the townhouse had its own identity? Yes, but in a way we weren’t aware of as the first pack we put together was during Covid so we weren’t lucky enough to stay. Many elements connect the two, from design to culture to the dessert trolley.
Gleneagles is a unique place with nearly 100 years of history. So the Townhouse had to be the younger brother, with a new approach for a new audience and a new generation, otherwise it would literally be a relocation.