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New film documents Royal Birkdale’s bold clubhouse transformation

11.53am 9th June 2021 - Innovation Centre

The transformation of Royal Birkdale Golf Club’s iconic Art Deco clubhouse by leading interior designer Sacha Dunnett has been documented in a new short film.

‘Bringing The Outside In’ tells the story of how the historic club and Open and Ryder Cup venue opted for a bold design approach, including the creation of a remarkable links carpet.

Interior designer Sacha Dunnett said: “Royal Birkdale’s clubhouse is an iconic Art Deco building and I wanted to create something unique, different and individual to the club.

“The idea for the links carpet design came from the first time I walked into the clubhouse and saw the amazing bay window: the view of the golf course says it all. 

“When I was doing my research, I found some old maps and aerial photographs of the course layout and I thought how amazing it would be to incorporate that into the design of the carpet, so when you are standing in the bar, having a drink after your round, the window almost becomes seamless. It’s all about bringing the outside in.”

In addition to the carpet design, the interior transformation features a new bar, designed by Fish Associates, reflecting the classic curves of the clubhouse architecture.

Bespoke furniture, including chairs and tables were also designed, again reflecting the Art Deco architecture, with upholstery by Muirhead, a renowned Scottish manufacturer of fine leathers – and supplier to Aston Martin cars and the Houses of Parliament.   

The ambitious plans for the interior required a vote among the Royal Birkdale membership. And while the committee was unanimous in its support, a few traditionalists required a little persuasion.

However, the vote was passed and from dour and tired rooms, a new, striking interior emerged, consistent with the refined style of the 1935 clubhouse, originally envisaged as a luxury liner sailing through the sand dunes and out to sea.

Royal Birkdale Managing Secretary Michael Sawicki said: “When the carpet came off the loom we realized how special it was. Even those who hadn’t been keen changed their minds.

“There had been times throughout the process when we thought, ‘Are we doing the right thing?’ But Sacha gave us the confidence that we were. She just delivered on everything.”

Dunnett, who previously designed interiors for The Edgbaston Priory Club, now hopes other private clubs will see the opportunity to take a bold approach to their interiors and create something unique and different for their members, including a growing number of female customers.

“I think British design and luxury has so much to offer, especially in golf, and I would love to bring more individual style into clubs, especially in the UK and the great private clubs of North America,” she added. “I was so pleased Royal Birkdale were bold and brave. You don’t achieve anything without being bold and brave, do you?”

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