Online | Interiors

Core Strengths

London, UK

Warm, welcoming yet stripped back, Dedraft’s reformer pilates studio for Studio Anatomy is a calm companion to physical improvement

Architecture studio Dedraft’s latest project, a reformer pilates studio in Hackney, demonstrates the transformational power of design to create calm, serene interiors from seemingly unpromising raw material. “The original space was a run-down, first-floor commercial unit with an unassuming entrance directly off the pavement,” says Dedraft’s Grant Straghan. “However, its one saving grace was the number of windows allowing the largely open-plan floorplate to be bathed in natural light for the majority of the day.”

To meet the client Studio Anatomy’s brief for a warm, light, pared-back interior, the space was first gutted. Suspended ceilings and commercial carpet tiles were ripped out, while the hard lines of openings between rooms have been softened by installing generous arched apertures instead – which were prefabricated off-site to meet a tight fit-out timeline.

The three main areas of the studio – a reception, changing area and the studio itself – have a consistent palette of materials, with warm, honey-coloured oak joinery for changing areas and storage, chalky lime plaster walls and a poured resin floor, with generously draped sheer fabrics adding a softness and sense of abundance against the harder surfaces.

The combination of the arched openings, lime-plaster walls and beautiful daylight seem to do something magical to the interior, creating an ever-changing three-dimensional play of light and form; to Straghan, the plaster “affords the space a further depth, allowing it to take on a multitude of tones, depths and visible patterns as the natural light changes throughout the day and season.”

In the reception area, terracotta tiles clad the marble-topped reception desk, the terracotta’s matt, rougher surface contrasting with the more luxurious marble countertop; a water-dispensing station in the corner of the room repeats the same materials. Archways are repeated here across other architectural elements: there’s a large framed mirror recessed into stepped lime-plaster arches, and an arched niche with oak display shelving and storage for a fridge below.

The main studio, its floor area largely taken up with reformer pilates machines, is a sun-soaked space with large arch-shaped mirrors facing the run of windows. Straghan says that there were certain design considerations that were especially pertinent to this being a pilates studio: “One careful consideration was the use of non-slip flooring, because of the presence of water and sweat, and the movement of up to 12 people at any one time, both around the studio and transferring to the machines.” He describes the micro-cement floor as a “seamless, tactile blank canvas” that “eliminates the need for an additional anti-slip surface treatment or for joints that can also be unpleasant underfoot.”

Dedraft’s work for Studio Anatomy can’t give you a stronger core or better flexibility, but it is an important prelude and companion to the practice of pilates itself. Enter the studio and its serenity immediately puts you in the right head space; see and feel the daylight all around you, and connect that a little bit more closely with nature. “The pared-back interior removes all the visual confusion that exists elsewhere outside that ground floor entrance door,” says Straghan. “Simplicity is key, and Studio Anatomy is a prime example of a refined yet functional interior that both welcomes and frees its clientele from the complexities and confusion of daily life, with the pilates being the primary focus thereafter.”