News & Events

Creating a Vertical Village with Personality: Nicola Fontanella on The Stage

5th January 2024
Guest Post
Sky Lounge designed by Nicola Fontanella at The Stage in Shoreditch

Guest Author

Nicola Fontanella

Vertical Villages are the future of luxury property and here’s why. 

I believe The Stage is London’s finest newbuild apartment scheme and it embraces the growing trend of vertical villages. Firstly, wealth brings the ability to buy space and luxurious things, but if you’re living in a global city like London the space is very limited. Secondly, no matter how wealthy you are, you can’t buy time and it is infinitely precious. People want access to everything instantly because our time is so pressured. In our post-covid world, people have more respect for time and our priorities have been reset. Our new homes need to reflect this.

That’s why I think “vertical villages” are key for luxury living in our cities. Traditional apartment blocks are limited on what they deliver for a modern lifestyle. Instead, we need to look for schemes where every aspect has been thought about. Design-led apartments with thoughtful layouts and access to standout onsite amenities are a priority. The homes need to be situated in a new hub too; retail, restaurants, businesses and public realm where you can relax. Having everything on your doorstop is convenient and frees up time. You don’t need to travel to visit a sleek cinema or bar and socialise with friends, you can simply go downstairs.

The Stage was designed inside out, so every floorplan and layout maximise views and light, and how people will use this space day to day. The attention to detail is there whether a buyer takes an entry-level studio suite or a penthouse. The level of amenities offered at The Stage are unparalleled across London. Galliard was ahead of their time when they submitted the planning and began to conceive this dynamic offering for residents. In the USA, buyers enjoy hotel-style apartments and branded residences are booming across Europe but with The Stage I didn’t want to offer hotel-style living, I wanted to create a luxury home. 

Another huge draw of amenities is they bring life and volume to a space. Apartment blocks without amenities can often become ghost towns, especially in a city like London where people may be travelling a lot or not using this as their primary home. Having amenities on site encourages people to go beyond their apartment and mix with their neighbours, invite friends over, and socialise within their building. They foster human connection and help a space come alive.

What The Stage offers is a unique personality. It is often a challenge when marketing newbuild properties to give them DNA and a personality that can appeal to prospective residents. The beauty of The Stage is its genuine historical connection which means the site already has a narrative, this is just the modern phase of it. It is more than a fun marketing ploy to get people interested; this is a genuine corner of London’s history reborn for the next generation to enjoy.

Another draw is without a doubt the location. EC2 has grown dramatically as the development has taken shape. Before Shoreditch might have been seen to only cater to a specific type whereas now the area has grown in popularity, there are families, creatives, entrepreneurs and every industry here. This has become such a desirable postcode in a short space of time. The connectivity means you can travel across the capital or internationally with ease. London will always have a global appeal and in a development like The Stage, you can lock up and leave. People are now opting for a digital nomad lifestyle and the ability to leave a beautiful home, travel and return with peace of mind is a luxury.

The premium on space in our cities also means Londoners can’t typically enjoy this level of luxury, this level of amenities is akin to a billionaire’s private compound. Wherever you live in London, you perhaps couldn’t afford to have these amenities in your own home – the dual screening rooms, duckpin bowling alley, arcade games and professional meeting spaces – without being very wealthy. By living in a luxury development that caters to these needs, people get to experience this lifestyle everyday.

For our designs, we focused on classic London details and making these work for the space without going cliché. The pattern of dogtooth check links to iconic Savile Row: the herringbone flooring links back to 18th-century mansions. These details would not look out of place in Belgrave Square or Fitzrovia. For The Stage we’ve reinterpreted them to suit this modern vertical village in such a unique location.

At The Stage, the reality exceeds our ambitious plans. From a design point of view I believe the scheme has matured and become truly timeless. The building has been executed beautifully and I am beyond proud to have this as our first Shoreditch project in our portfolio. Good design doesn’t date, and good designers understand how people want to live.

About the author

Nicola Fontanella of Argent Design is one of the most sought-after interior designers globally, designing private homes from Shanghai to Miami to Mayfair. The Stage is Nicola’s first project in Shoreditch.