In Conversation with Tom Hingston

Considering his wide-ranging portfolio, chances are you’ve encountered the work of designer and creative director Tom Hingston. Having masterminded ad campaigns for Dior, album artwork for Massive Attack and The Rolling Stones, and even music videos for David Bowie, Tom launched award-winning creative agency Hingston Studio in 1997 and has sat at the helm ever since.

Hingston Studio’s latest venture is Primrose Hill pop-up Hotel 1729, an immersive experience created for venerable Champagne house Maison Ruinart, which used Farrow & Ball Railings to elegant effect in its single luxurious bedroom. We spoke to Tom about colour, crayères and collaborations, and learned a little about what’s next for the studio.

Front door of Hotel 1729 - Hingston Studio

Hingston Studio
HOTEL 1729

What does the Ruinart motto “living as art form” mean to you? How did it inform your response to the brief?

To us, this was about creating a fully immersive experience that touched all the senses – taste, sound, touch and vision. As soon as you crossed over the threshold of the hotel there was a direct synergy between what you see, what you hear, what you eat and what you drink. We spent a long time refining that, so it felt unexpected but at the same time seamless. We wanted it to feel like you were stepping into a dream…

What was your most unexpected source of inspiration for this project?

At the beginning of the project, we visited the Maison Ruinart in Reims. Underneath is an incredible 7km stretch of chalk caves, the crayères, where the Champagne is made and stored. It’s extraordinary. The height is 40 metres and the whole space is bathed in this yellow sodium light, because that’s the optimum conditions to store Champagne.

So, you’ve got this beautiful chalk-white cave washed in this amber light. Essentially, we took the grittiness and textural quality of the caves and transferred them into the hotel.

The Railings-painted bedroom at Hotel 1729 - Hingston Studio

Hingston Studio
HOTEL 1729

You chose blue-black shade Railings as part of the palette – what drew you to it?

‘Railings’ was used in the bedroom – the place where guests sleep, where they dream – so I loved the idea of it being a contrast to the rest of the hotel. We spoke about different shades of black that subtly changed appearance from day to night and Railings was a perfect embodiment of that.

Are there any elements of your own home present in the pop-up scheme? Any borrowed influences?

Definitely. I’m a huge collector of mid-century modernist furniture and so we introduced elements of that throughout the space. Our friends at Paul Smith collaborated with us on the curation of those rooms – so there were some really special pieces in there.

A statement table in Hotel 1729 - Hingston Studio

Hingston Studio
HOTEL 1729

You’ve collaborated with some incredible musicians in the past, but who would you love to work with that you haven’t already?

We’ve been fortunate enough to work with some brilliant musicians over the years and there will always be others we’d love to collaborate with. It’s a long list, so difficult to isolate just a few but the idea of working with Ryuichi Sakamoto really excites me. Or, on a completely different tip, Pharrell Williams. Both are masters in their individual fields and I’ve always enjoyed hearing them talking about their process and their work.

You’ve worked in countless forms across numerous industries. Is there anything you haven’t tried yet that you’d like to?

Our work has always embraced a mix of fashion, music, design and culture. We’re excited about the opportunities of bringing that mix into larger, more ambitious projects.

We’ve always wanted to develop our own product range, it’s something that’s been in discussion for years. And without giving too much away, we have something in the pipeline which is planned for launch late next year. We’ve touched on various aspects of product design for our collaborations with SOPH and Paul Smith but this will be very different and much bigger. As a studio, we always gravitate towards projects which allow us to really flex our diversity of skills.

Now that Hotel 1729’s run has ended, what’s next for Hingston Studio? Can you tell us a little bit about your next project?

It’s a really exciting time at Hingston Studio right now. We have one of the best teams we’ve ever assembled and a new studio space so we’re looking forward to allowing that to blossom. We also have a major curation/exhibition project coming up towards the end of the year, which is an amazing opportunity to put all those skills into play.

Carys Lowry-Carter


After a stint at the University of Oxford writing about books, Carys was overjoyed to happen upon a career writing about her other favourite thing: colour. A copywriter by day and singer-songwriter by night, Carys can usually be found scouring Pinterest for new interior ideas or noodling on one of her many musical instruments.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist