HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE INTERIOR DESIGN INDUSTRY?
I think interior design got into me before I was aware of it. As a teenager my focus was in the arts, and I was fortunate enough to be blessed with an unconventional resumé, which was predominately based around an essential amount of work experience and apprenticeships. A pivotal point for me was certainly at 20 years old, when I embarked upon organising and building my first loft space on my own, which was undoubtedly a catalyst to what I am doing today. This led me into a period of working in both property and design, and then ultimately with Philippe Starck. I founded my company in 2002 with a view of establishing a design business that would specialise in both hospitality interiors and commercial residential projects. Today we work globally, with an enviable client list both in the hotel industry and the commercial residential arena.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGNS?
My philosophy is very simple. For me, the most important aspect of design is seeking components that are authentic and will stand true in time. This is at the heart of every project we undertake.
I don’t tend to follow trends, and instead strive to create spaces that are indigenous to their surroundings. However, there is a definite thread that runs through our work that links them all on an aesthetic level. Perhaps it’s a slightly more handsome feel, or the fact that we tend to incorporate more raw, architectural materials within our work.
WHERE DO YOU GET INSPIRATION FROM?
I tend to find inspiration in all manner of things, but I’ve always been drawn to architecture, and this often translates in the use of raw materials and exterior finishes that I incorporate within our work. I often layer different types
and clear simplicity, so I find that as a combination works well. That said, it really depends on the DNA of a building as to what works best. The local environment, as well as the people that will use the space, are key when thinking about finishes and fabrics, so we tend not to be prescriptive in our approach.
Personally, I tend to avoid trends and instead I focus on creating spaces that possess a timeless quality. That said, I have often sought inspiration from modern architecture, and many of our projects include materials traditionally used for a building’s exterior. The use of industrial elements such as exposed brickwork or structural ironmongery with softer, warmer tones and textures is a great way to add attitude and character to a space, which I think we’ll see more of as people continue to experiment more with unusual design finishes.
DO YOU HAVE A SIGNATURE STYLE OR FAVOURITE DESIGN CHARACTERISTICS?
Art is certainly something that plays a key role within our work. I believe that art is to a designer what punctuation is to an author. When we designed SIXTY SoHo in New York, we commissioned a set of limited-edition pieces by one of my favourite artists, Harland Miller. The pieces add an edge to the guestrooms and enhance the residential feeling we aimed to create.
I also tend to focus on creating a space that is both indigenous to its surroundings and timeless in design. Drawing upon the local culture, the history, the climate and the atmosphere of a place, we seek to create a design DNA that embraces the character and identity of the space in which it is set. So, with that said, materials are sourced from all manner of places depending on the individual project. We are currently working on a resort in Mexico and we have sourced all the furniture items locally, which is something quite special. Everything from the lamps to the headboards have their own story, which adds another dimension to our design. Another example of this is an eight-bedroom mountain chalet we recently completed in Switzerland. For the entranceway, we combined locally quarried quartzite with timber panelling, embracing the local flavour and materials of the building’s setting from a contemporary perspective.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PROJECT?
Each project is as unique as the next, as are the clients that we work on them with. That said, it was always a dream to work with Four Seasons, so it was a proud moment when they approached us to design the Four Seasons Private Residences Fort Lauderdale. The brand was keen to appeal to a younger clientele, and we have relished the challenge. We have sought to look back to a heyday era in Fort Lauderdale, a time of Chris-Craft Boats and Capri pants, reminiscent of the European Riviera, with a more relaxed elegance using Mid- Century Modern furniture and beautiful travertine floors.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
We are incredibly fortunate to have so many exciting projects in the pipeline. We were appointed by a prestigious hotel group in Japan to create the design DNA for a new hotel brand, with the first one having opened in Osaka 2020. It is such a privilege working in Japan, and indeed on such an exciting project. As well as this, we are continuing our work on a 200-room hotel in Hollywood, and I am also delighted to be working again with the Harilela Group on its new hotel development, The Hari Hong Kong, in the city’s lively Wan Chai District. In addition to our work with Four Seasons in Fort Lauderdale, we are also working with them once again at the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown.