The pains he has taken to create a warm atmosphere are obvious. In the long, narrow dining room, which seats 80, the decor is a mix of vintage ikat and antique Persian textiles, Jacobean oak and mahogany. “I wanted it to feel like a travelers’ lodge, an explorers’ den, a resting spot on the Silk Road,” he says. The walls are filled with loans from founders: black and white Warhol portraits of Liza Minnelli and Jackie O, photographs by Nan Goldin and Hiroshi Sugimoto, and vintage shots of alpine sporting events, courtesy of Sachs. The menu, Farman-Farmaian says, is “Italian and Persian comfort food.” His Piedmontese chef—who came from the kitchen at Harry’s Bar—cooks up such dishes as buffalo steak, zucchini pasta (from Elkann’s recipe), and pomegranate and dried fig salad.
Before launching the Beauchamp, Farman-Farmaian was a creative consultant whose clients included Chateau Marmont, the Waverly Inn and Annabel’s, where he worked alongside proprietor Mark Birley’s children, Robin and India Jane, to inject new life into the club. Shortly before his death, in 2007, Birley sold Annabel’s—along with Harry’s Bar and two other private eating clubs, George and Mark’s—in a move that created a black hole in London’s club scene. Many of Birley’s old-time staffers have fled to rival venues; Robin is setting up his own members’ club, while India Jane, along with other former Annabel’s pillars such as Nina Campbell, has become a founder of the Beauchamp, which will have a maximum of 500 members. Campbell, who is moving her interior design studio to a nearby street, says she plans to spend a lot of time at the new venue.
“The crowd is very young and very international,” muses the designer, who created interiors for Annabel’s when it opened in the Sixties. “I really hope I don’t look like mutton dressed as lamb.”