Tell us more about your background and how you wound up in the interior design world…
My background is Italian-Brazilian, but I have lived in England for most of my life, having landed in London’s Notting Hill in my late teens. I have always been drawn by the huge design heritage of those varied locations. I knew I would do something within the art world, but I never really knew what it would be. My early years in theatre production brought me to London. From there, I started working in fashion, which opened my eyes to a new world and sensitivity towards form, volume, and craftsmanship. The rest developed from there…
Where did you train/gain your most formative experience? What skills and knowledge really stuck with you from here?
Having spent many years in the fashion business, I got deeply involved in visual merchandising and product placement within the fashion houses I have worked on. My close friends at the time, who were successful architects and had been in the business for many years, always said I should go and train as one. According to them: “I had the eye for it.” I finally decided to go and study design. One day, one of those friends called me up and said that they had just landed a tremendous crown estate redevelopment project of a 2,000 sqm listed building in London and urgently needed help. I got my first job in a design studio within my first month of university. I have trained as an interior architect at the University of the Arts in London at the Chelsea College of Art and Design and at the London College of Communication. Those were unbelievably busy years but equally pivotal to my personal development. By the time I had finished both degrees a few years later, I had completed over eight private client and hospitality projects across London and continental Europe.
Where does your passion for interiors stem from, and what inspires your day-to-day work?
The curation of spaces and how they have the capacity to silently articulate ideas and feelings and influence who’s within them really speak to me as a human being. Humans have always been expressing themselves through how we gather our belongings around us since the beginning of time — think caves and drawings around them or artefacts found in through archaeological discoveries. As designers, we have the privilege and responsibility of shaping how spaces will be utilised and perceived. Both with our private clients and brand partners, we are collaborating with people’s aspirations and dreams, and one takes this very seriously. This type of partnership really excites me and keeps me going. Working through initial abstract ideas onto tangible design solutions and the narrative around them is thrilling. As a studio, these values are shared by the wider team, and collectively, the work produced reflects this spirit.
Tell us a bit about 1508 London: what are its areas of expertise, what’s the company’s mission, and what design philosophies and principles does it adhere to?
We are a design studio specialising in private residential, hospitality and multi-unit developments, as well as yachts and product design, delivered from offices across four continents. As designers, we always believe in a collaborative approach, and our designs are derived from measured principles. We will always research and immerse ourselves in each project’s history, geography, and local architectural vernacular. Our expertise extends across all design and construction stages, from feasibility studies, planning applications, and conceptual and detailed design to monitoring construction on-site, procurement, dressing and hand-over.
How would you describe your designs to those who don’t know about them? How do they stand out against other those of other companies?
Always derived from measured principles. We will always research and immerse ourselves in each project’s history, geography, and local architectural vernacular. We are obsessed with narrative, with purpose, and the why’s and how’s. This ranges from the experiences we are developing and how they will be perceived and impact the end user to our supply chain and social and environmental impact.
Do you have a signature style or favourite characteristics you always include in your designs? If so, why are these key in your eyes?
We truly believe in the quality, purpose and magic that happens when a client and designer sit together to discuss a project. This sentiment is shared by my fellow Principals and the entire team. No project is too big or too small; our passion for design means that we get excited by each project’s particular intricacies and challenges, and we give each and every commission the same level of care and attention to detail they deserve and need to make them successful. It’s always about the project; it is the star of the show.
Above images: interiors of a home at Cipriani Residences Miami © The Boundary
Tell us about some of your latest projects and what they entail?
One of our latest and most exciting projects is Cipriani Residences Miami. We are collaborating closely with the Cipriani family to redefine luxury in the Brickell neighbourhood. Our design vision offers a sophisticated and fresh feel to the spaces while incorporating the rich history and tradition of the Cipriani brand. We also designed all the interior spaces for Mandarin Oriental Residences, Beverly Hills, the first new condominium realised in the iconic neighbourhood in over a decade. This was the first project we designed in the United States, which has made the collaboration with the developer, SHVO, very exciting for us. We took our design inspiration from the surrounding Californian landscape and a connection to the unique setting that is Beverly Hills. The homes evoke refined detailing, timeless elegance, comfort, and a connection to nature, perfectly embracing indoor-outdoor living.
Following the recent opening of the Miami Studio and 1508 London’s expansion in the Americas. Could you share more details on this, including how you are achieving this and why it is important to you?
The opening of the Miami studio is a huge milestone and an accolade for our collaborative nature. We are now four offices strong, allowing seamless delivery globally. The silver lining of the last 3 years is that we have adapted well to working cross-continentally, so leading projects from our London head office is now second nature. On the ground in Miami is a fantastic design and business operations team who will deliver the 1508 London vision and expertise, enabling us to service our clients domestically in North America. This was made possible by visionary patrons and partner brands who believed in our work and our partnership approach to projects.
The recently completed Mandarin Oriental Residences, Beverly Hills, has been a superb debut project in the Americas. Working proudly in collaboration with the developer, SHVO, this property has been a catalyst for new opportunities, making it a natural move for 1508 to plant roots in North America. We have now been appointed to work with the iconic Cipriani brand on their Cipriani Residences Miami, a branded living experience blurring the lines between residences and a brand synonymous with hospitality excellence worldwide. Our Client, Mast Capital, tasked us with designing all residences and amenities of the new 80-story Arquitectonica-designed building. Located in the heart of Miami’s financial hub, Cipriani Residences is set to redefine luxury in the Brickell neighbourhood and is most certainly an iconic addition to the skyline of the Magic City.
What does the life cycle of a project look like from start to finish? Who and what does it involve?
Although the way we go about designing Cipriani Residences Miami and Mandarin Oriental Residences, Beverly Hills differs vastly, it always starts with an idea, followed by a meeting with the client where details can be discussed. Once agreements are exchanged, we follow a very structured approach to each design development phase. Initially, during stage 1, we will make the relevant enquiries, analyse the brief and then challenge the architecture and its constraints aiming to maximise spaces and opportunities. This is followed by a concept phase where we develop a narrative based upon some key design principles we have identified from the architecture vernacular, brief and aspirations for the project. This phase is where the narrative is contextualised by assessing it onto the architecture through key gestures and design elements. We will painstakingly research precedents and inspirational imagery, materials and forms which best represent the message and apply those principles to the original architectural narrative through visuals and diagrams so the design can be visualised and scrutinised to perfection. This phase is where the magic truly happens, and it’s incredible to come out of it armed with the tools to move onto a more pragmatic but equally important phase of the design process where those ideas are fully detailed and pass through an array of consultants and different practices so that it can be built. All of the above is truly collaborative, and the client/design team are in constant communication.
What are some of your favourite aspects of working in the interior design world?
I genuinely believe in the power of design and how it can impact our lives. There is a lot to be said about the craftsmanship of master artisans and artists we work with, which I’m besotted with. The passion and intrinsic levels of execution and detail they dedicate to their work are just mind-blowing.
What about challenges? What are some that you face, and how do you overcome them?
Due to the world pandemic, the supply chain in most industries got majorly affected. It is not different from ours, and I believe many in the design community are thinking laterally about how to overcome these logistical constraints. We are trying to think locally as much as possible in all geographies. Celebrating local craft and minimising elements such as shipping, amongst other initiatives.
Any achievements or wow moments in your career that stand out thus far?
We are constantly evolving and ever-changing, so does the highlight truly ever happen? I am very fortunate to work with the most talented team in the business right now. Each one of them are legends in their own right. This most definitely makes me proud and grateful.
What do you think are important areas to address for the future of interior design?
Sustainability and all its initiatives. We are working hard at it, thinking laterally, and challenging ourselves to champion this philosophy amongst the entire team.
What’s next for you and the company?
Our move to the US market is an honour and a testament to the work we have been developing as a design studio to date. I would like to think we can build upon this and our success stories, such as our first US project, namely the Mandarin Oriental Residences, Beverly Hills, located on the West Coast. We hope to continue to work with as many inspirational and exciting projects and partners as we can in the near future. I am very excited to see the incredible Cipriani Residences Miami project through and the 1508 expansion across the US.
To find out more about Leo Bertacchini and 1508 London, visit the links below…