Don’t Rain On Aiden’s Parade
We sit down with Designer Michelle Derbyshire to discuss her work on the latest offering from Chester Racecourse, a luxury race day dining experience; Parade with Aiden Byrne.
What were your first thoughts about the concept?
When I was first approached about Parade with Aiden Byrne, I thought it was fantastic idea and I was really looking forward to being involved. The brief I received from Holly and Charlotte at A Styled Lifestyle instantly made me fall in love with the concept and it was something I could really envisage working. To me, Parade was intended to be a jewellery box in the centre of the racecourse; a really high end, luxurious and totally unique venue, ready to be discovered. To top it off, we have Aiden serving a delicious menu, coupled with a prime location and beautiful interiors, a truly winning combination.
How influential have you been in the development of the concept as a whole?
I felt really lucky coming in on the project at a time where I could still have a say on a lot of the elements. Being Australian, I’m very black and white in my attitude, so there were things I knew I wanted to incorporate and luckily the team were very receptive to my ideas.
What brief were you working to and have you deviated from it at all?
The brief was to create a luxury, high-end and comfortable venue with plenty of light, incorporating both classic and contemporary features. It was an interesting project for me because, as opposed to doing a normal restaurant where there are constraints such as materials to use, these weren’t much of an issue with Parade. However, with the space essentially being a glass box, there were limitations as you’d usually decorate the walls, but we managed to work around this.
Please can you explain the interior concept?
Being a viewing point for the guests was obviously of paramount importance, so Parade has glazed elevations. We needed to keep these windows free from decoration, which is unusual compared to other sites where you would typically decorate the walls. The solution we came up with was to shift our focus to the ceiling, which is a beautiful copper colour. The overall idea was to create a light, invigorating and luxurious summer space that has a classic feel rather than being trend driven. The colour palette is a muted mint green, gold and white paired with plenty of leafy plants. This is going to be the point of difference to other venues within the racecourse, which tend to have a darker, more masculine palette. There’s an overall air of luxurious comfort at Parade, with a mix of table and lounge seating for guests so that people have a variety of places to sit - from the viewing deck upstairs, to the bar and the restaurant.
As we understand, there’s been a tight turnaround on this concept. How long has the process taken from initial drawings to execution?
I started on the job at the end of February where it was literally a concrete slab. I remember looking at it and Richard Thomas turning to me and saying, “Are you up for the ride?” I always am, so it was a no brainer. We had to get to work straight away as construction had already started and the builders needed to know about fitting points and the such… a couple of weeks later we had produced a scheme.
What has been the most exciting part of the project?
I have really enjoyed working with the girls (Charlotte and Holly from A Styled Lifestyle) as they really understand the importance of attention to detail.
How do you feel Parade and the interiors you’ve created will set this new facility apart from other racecourses throughout the UK?
It’s really exciting from this point of view as I just don’t think there’s anything else out there like it. We deliberately didn’t look into other racecourses and their offer because we wanted to ensure we designed it as we would a normal restaurant, rather than a sporting venue. It’s not only a beautiful space but it has so much to offer. It’s a great all-round experience for the guest, which was really important to me when I agreed to take the project on. I think it’s vital to design to a space that is backed up by the food, service, wine and overall atmosphere and this is something I feel really passionately about.
Parade with Aiden Byrne The Racecourse, Chester, CH1 2LY
To book this exclusive race day hospitality experience, contact Kate Dawson:
t: 01244 304 637 e: firstname.lastname@example.org