You often travel to seek new designers – which do you think are the most creative cities?
I think there is a lot of creative talent everywhere in the world and I always find something fascinating and inspiring in every city that I travel to.
However, when it comes to combining creative ideas with high quality of execution and innovative technology, Italy will always be my first choice. We source furniture, lighting and fabrics from Como, Venice and Florence regions. I admire the effort that our suppliers put into constantly improving their designs and technology—it’s an ongoing process and they never seem to settle for anything that is already ‘good enough’, but strive for nothing less than perfection.
As far as objects of art and artefacts are concerned, we have just started working with an artisan from Rome, whose collection of innovative surfaces we are planning to launch in our showroom in September. We also work with artisans from France, Belgium, Holland and Morocco. I am also excited about a project we are working on at the moment with a local glass artist, who I think is one of the most talented I have ever come across.
I understand you have just returned from Russia – was this for a current project?
We have two current projects in Russia, which are incredibly interesting. Our Russian clients’ aesthetic aspirations have been very inspiring for us and it’s both challenging and rewarding to find this perfect ‘East meets West’ design edge.
What do you find most important when designing a space?
People who will be using it. It’s about how the space will be used and how people who will be using it could benefit from our design. What would be the most logical and comfortable circulation for them, how can the limitations of the space be minimised or improved? A well designed space can inspire, stimulate, energise, comfort or relax, so all of these aspects have to be taken into consideration from the outset.
What is your favourite project you have worked on?
We completed a project in Queen’s Gate, Kensington earlier this year, which was a perfect combination of our client’s personal preferences and our designs. When these two aspects of the project are in harmony, the results are always rewarding. It was a good example of utilising every inch of the relatively compact space to make the most of it both aesthetically and functionally.
What are your key influences?
I grew up in many very different countries and I have always been fascinated by the impact cultural influences have on environments. I think a perfect interior environment is a space that incorporates cultural values from past and present in a contemporary interpretation. I admire historic influences, but can’t stand mock-period interiors. I believe that everything had its time and we shouldn’t live in the past. I admire certain elements from the past and there is an art to incorporating them into today’s way of life, which is what I think contemporary interiors are about.
Working with your husband, where do each of your strengths lie?
Alastair is a charted surveyor and his strengths are technical. He heads up the project management team and I head up the design team. We always start working on projects together. From the outset he tells me what can and can’t be technically achieved, so the design is developed in a logical way. It’s a great advantage to have this kind of expertise in the team.
With both of you as designers, how often do you end up redecorating at home?
There was a stage when we seemed to be redecorating non-stop. It felt like we were living on a permanent building site. When our son arrived three years ago, we kept repainting his drawings on the walls and reupholstering sofas on a regular basis, but now we decided to wait a little while until he gets bigger before we plan another major refurbishment. I already have a few ideas. A stone kitchen is on the ‘must have’ list.
You have transformed a variety of spaces including residential, hotels, and offices; what would be your dream property to design?
I would love to do a perfect country house or hotel—a space that would combine organically rustic influences with understated elegance.
Can you tell us a bit about the variety of materials you use, such as the recycled glass?
I love textures and am inspired by innovative solutions in surface design. What inspired me about recycled glass was the fact that it is an ecological material that looks like semi-precious stone and has the translucent values that can be used to create different atmospheres by back-lighting it.
What do you find most challenging when it comes to designing a space?
I like challenges and the worse the space is, the more interesting it is to transform it into something aesthetically pleasing. The most difficult challenges to overcome are usually technical, particularly moving pipework and walls without the budget becoming prohibitive to implement the design.
Any trends we should keep our eye on for the coming months?
I think the new trend for stone and concrete kitchens is worth noting. I have seen these designs develop and they are now starting to reach perfection in terms of design solutions.
There is also a trend for art in furniture, which was the main idea behind our showroom. It is not something to furnish the entire house with, but to create a few focal points that are both works of art and functional pieces at the same time.