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March / April 2008

If you're going to launch an exclusive Lounge and Club, what better time than during the glitz of London Fashion Week?

 For their new club Maya, entrepreneurs Markus Thesleff and Marc Boyan did just that - coaxing some famous faces down the discrete steps of the West End venue.

Maya is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Markus Thesleff and Marc Boyan who, ironically, met over the bar. Boyan used to host and promote Café De Paris in its heyday when Thesleff was a valued customer. The friends both went on to expand their portfolios; Thesleff setting up Pangea in London and Marbella and Boyan forming lucrative media company Miroma International, which trades media space for stock or financial credits with bars, clothes brands and other companies.

With money in his back pocket, Boyan decided to pursue his dream of opening a new venue with Thesleff. Thesleff’s operational experience complimented Boyan’s extensive media background and together with other founders and managers of worldwide successful clubs collaborated to create one of the hottest teams ever to be assembled in London night life. GMs Mark Fairweather and Martyn Moloney are running the ship, with Marketing Director Jaspar Tay implementing “extraordinary and unbelievable” ideas to bring in a “cool trendy crowd”, says Boyan. The team’s portfolio includes Pangaea, Amika (mondo*dr issue 17.6), The Cuckoo Club, Movida, 43 South Molton, Milk & Honey and Café de Paris, to name but a few.

Inevitably the culmination of all this experience has set a new benchmark for social London, injecting a creative and hedonistic spirit into the West-End.
The exclusivity of the club is defined and inspired by New York’s velvet rope culture, rather than any members only maxim. Said GM Martyn Moloney, “We don’t see the point in running a members only policy because essentially you are making your best customers pay for nothing. Anyone can come to our club as long as they suit the style of our venue.” Boyan commented, “I have lived in New York for two years and I have met a lot of talent agents and A-listers, so I can bring that network to Maya. And Thesleff can add to it his experience of Pangea in the US.”

Maya cleverly blends the exoticism and élan of St Tropez, Miami and Las Vegas with fashionable London and the new euro scene. The Vegas-style service and amenities means its clientele will be pampered from the moment they step out of their chauffeured cars. The old Opium venue was chosen for its affluent area and proximity to fashionistas and big spending socialites. “The area is relatively untouched, apart from Crystals, and the area is going to grow and grow and grow,” says Boyan.

Leading personages from the creative communities, including Katie Grand, Chloe Sevigny, Mark Ronson and Jay Joplin, will be the club’s regular socialites. To be in possession of Maya’s strictly invitation only gold card will be something of a coup. Those who are ‘connected, fashionable and interesting enough’ will make it past the red ropes and down the entrance stairway to a marble reception where England’s only award-winning FogScreen, a mirage of ultrasonic waves and water particles, forms an optical curtain of moving image. “FogScreen projection screen is a new and exciting technology which allows a unique interactive branding tool for patrons and corporate clients alike,” states Markus Thesleff.

Thesleff contacted CBE Builders after they refitted Pangea in Piccadilly and Aviva at The Baglioni Hotel in Kensington as part of his projects. CBE’s Charles Baillie says: “It was a major strip out that took a week and a half because the former venue was full of heavy duty timber that was designed to last many years. In total the build took seven weeks; we moved a wall to make the venue bigger and flattened out all the nooks and crannies.”

Designer Julian Taylor explains the design concept of the venue, “We wanted to have a New York feel, so low key and not over-designed. We combined different elements like the brickwork, screens and leaf pattern to create lots of visual interest. The patterns with lighting really works; we wanted something soft and a bit glamorous that embodied longevity. If you put the gold leaf on a textured surface it means it sparkles more.”

Entering the club is rather like walking into a surreal film screen. Inside, the DJ box overlooks the dancefloor, designed to be the focal point of the club. Housed in a sleek, ribbed-oak booth, its location shows that the music and state-of-the-art sound system (Funktion 1) are what this club is all about; the lighting of the DJ unit ties it in with the architecture of the screens.  

Julian factored in the importance of the DJ booth from the very beginning. “The system was very important, that’s why we chose a Funktion One system - it’s one of the best systems in London,” adds Julian. Paul Craig, from sound and light specialists Showtec commented, “Our brief was to achieve a ‘wow factor’ sound and light experience in a relatively compact space. The client wanted the business to compete at the highest level and it was essential the technical equipment delivered.”

The design is completed by industrial ceilings, dark rich wooden flooring, potted palm trees, and tucked away lounge areas - all seductively illuminated by beaming, backlit walls. The screens and lighting were key to setting the atmosphere and mood. “We wanted a great backdrop; the screens have a falling leaf motif that adds a natural softness to the space,” adds Julian. Textured gold leaf walls juxtapose a natural touch with the contemporary design and install, as well as add luxury and glamour. A bronze mirror brings warmth to the venue and an expansion of space.

Maya notes that dancing is back in vogue, and has an entertainment agenda accordingly. Guests will be privy to celebrity DJ sets and impromptu performances from leading artists. Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell, Juliette & The Licks, Florence & The Machine and Queens of Noize have all performed at the club. London is the debut for Maya, which is planned to take root in Moscow and New York.





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