Ilkley Cinema opened in November 2015 as Europe’s smallest 4K cinema, with just 57 seats. It came to life from the dream of a local businessman who visited Wanaka, New Zealand in 2014 and found a small, creative and cosy cinema that he loved. From seeking key funding from supportive locals, to taking on an historic site that came with significant structural and spatial challenges, nothing about the evolution of this concept into a reality was conventional.
Ilkley is a Victorian spa town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, home to a discerning and relatively cosmopolitan community. From the outset, the key was to create the right feel and to create a destination venue that offered something different from the average multiplex. Founders John Tate and John Hewitt entrusted care of this most precious aspect to interior designer Bess Sturman of Sturman & Co in late 2014 after she pitched her concept and approach to them. Her brief was to bring originality, quirkiness and luxury to a derelict Victorian building that had formerly housed a nightclub.
Bess is the sole and principal designer at Sturman & Co, through which has brought her signature polish and mixed-era designs to residential and commercial projects across Yorkshire and the North since starting her practice in 2011. The Cinema is Bess’s largest commercial project to date.