The “naughty” top-floor Games Room features an erotic ceiling mural by Anj Smith and Laplace’s own interpretation in rug form of Louise Bourgeois gouache paintings of breasts. “Design, for me,
means everything has to have a functional meaning, everything has to be very rational,” he reflects.“But emotions became the drive, allowing me to do something brave.” Theatrical flourishes abound, among them the restaurant’s enameled-lava-stone bar and glossy ceiling, which bounce light across the room. Also in the mix of artist interventions are salt and pepper shakers in the spirit of Paul McCarthy and chairs by Matthew Day Jackson.
Three private levels nod to the Wirths’ homelands and countries of residence. Custom tartans by weaver Araminta Campbell wrap the Scottish Room, for which artisan Kelvin Murray has crafted a magnificent 26-seat oak table in collaboration with David Linley, the second Earl of Snowdon, and Gareth Guy has created a dramatic antler chandelier. For the Swiss Room, spectacular parquet floors by decorative artist Ian Harper pay homage to the Vertical-Horizontal Compositions of Sophie Taeuber-Arp. The Italian Room’s soft hues and ornate details evoke a Venetian palazzo.
Ultimately, Laplace explains, the Wirths’ aim is to bring people together. “Manuela and Iwan are food people. They love friends. They love to do all these things beyond just art.” He references Kronenhalle, Zurich’s famous 1920s bustling brasserie by Robert Haussmann, filled with famous artworks by Giacometti, Chagall, and Braque, as a point of comparison. “I always said to Iwan and Manuela, ‘You have to do the Kronenhalle of our time,’” reflects Laplace. “The Audley can be a new version of its spirit. It’s not a restaurant just for the sake of having a restaurant. It’s a meaningful gathering space.”