Siblings Zoë and Layo Paskin have built a portfolio of venues, ranging from the award-winning nightclub The End to Michelin-starred restaurant Evelyn’s Table. Now they’ve 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 been working in design and the creative industries for several generations. How did that influence you and your interests growing up, and how did you find your way into hospitality? It was a very big part of growing up, from the way we were educated, the stories and the family meals. In our house we were a mix of second- and third-generation immigrants who all came to London in the late 19th and early 20th century. My family was defined by who they were, what they did and where they wanted to go rather than anything they had. And to that end, the main hing was working with their hands—from physical work to music and crucially cooking. They all brought different cultural influences.
The story begins in 1948, in Hoxton Square at our grandfather Lewis Paskin’s cabinet making company, Richard Douglas & Sons, within the now renowned industrial quarter, Hoxton Square. It then moved to our Father Douglas Paskin’s architectural practice, PKS Architects, which he started in 1973. And our Grandmother was a pianist, our mother a writer…
The End nightclub was your first major project. What drew you to opening a club? Music. It was the other formative part of growing up in London. Electro, hip hop, rare groove, acid house, all formed part of my youth and they exploded on the scene as I became a teenager. I was putting on parties by 15, record shopping every weekend with any money I could get together, and all throughout university, I was putting on weekly club nights. Our father came home one day after I had returned from university and said he had just seen these old stables in between Covent Garden and Holborn and said it would make a great nightclub, the rest as they say is history …
How have your tastes changed since that first venture? What has remained the same? Everything we do and have done involves others; it is the combined talent that creates the whole. Our aim is to always collaborate, develop, build, and deliver unique places that are best in class creatively. We tend not to repeat our ideas, every 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 something consistent about your approach to any new project? Bars and cafes share something very similar in that when people love them, they can become part of their weekly, even daily routine. This is a little less true of restaurants, but they may drop only to a couple of times a month and hotels a bit less again, unless you’re very lucky. But what is key for us, is that you want people to fall in love with them, the more they feel connected to what we’re trying to do, even unconsciously, the more you can build something.
Can you explain your process when creating a new space, from the original idea to the opening night? We take the building first and think of how we respond to that. Then we look at the core of what we’re offering. This all begins with sketches.
What did you want to say with the design and aesthetics of the Gleneagles Townhouse? We oversaw all the branding and identity for the restaurant and bars, working in tandem with the team there and at 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 to create an instant classic in the look and feel of The Spence. The logo a nod to the history of the Townhouse as The British Linen Bank. We also chose colours that we felt would add a softer touch to the grandness of the space.
Lamplighters allowed us to be more playful, taking the narrative and character (the Leerie) from the Robert Louis Stevenson poem. We also leant on the colours from the amazing Scottish sky that you see on the rooftop, which is framed by architect David Bryce’s Corinthian columns.
Did you pull elements and influences from the Grande Dame Gleneagles property or was it important for the townhouse to have its own identity? Yes, but in ways we were unaware of as the first pack we put together was during Covid and so we hadn’t had a chance to stay. There are many elements that link the two, from the design to the culture to even the dessert trolley.
Gleneagles is a unique place with almost a 100-year history of its own. So the Townhouse had to be the younger sibling, with a new approach for a new audience and generation or it would literally be a relocation.