Tuesday, 30 August 2011

So, what are you up to at the end of September?



I can’t believe that it’s already that time of year again… a time for London to embrace the interior design industry and for designers to run maniacally around large open spaces filled with temporary stands, drink gallons of fizz and consume far too many canapés. As has become the norm for me, it’s also a THE most frustrating week in the year where I typically receive a multitude of alternative invitations to do nice things, which this year included; accompanying my hubby on a business trip to NY (with first class upgrade!!!) and a relaxing break in an Alpine chalet. However, on balance, I think I am going to enjoy being in London more (particularly with hubby out of the way)… and for me, if the Tom Dixon party is the pickled liver of Design Week, then Decorex is the beating heart – and the running theme at Decorex this year is ‘Cherished Places’ or, for me, 'Sanctuary'… Sanctuary is an interesting concept as the interpretation is deeply personal - it can mean something very different to everyone. It is also something that can remain aspirational and elusive, particularly if you live in a city like London … and, from a design perspective, it can encompass the home in its totality or relate to very specific and unique spaces within the home.

Understanding what Sanctuary means – Decorex is collaborating with Maggie’s to promote their latest centre in Nottingham - designed by Paul Smith and Piers Gough, it provides a truly amazing space where anyone affected by cancer can gain hope and solace. A true Cherished Place removed from the sterile hospital environment that provides a respite for patients and relatives. Can’t wait to attend the seminar on ‘Maggie’s Teapot’ to see the space and the inspiration behind it…

Defining your Sanctuary – Decorex has also asked several top interior designers to share their most Cherished Places – places of sanctuary ranging from country retreats to memories from their childhood… It’s a fascinating question and has just made me realise that I could do with a weekend away…

Creating your Sanctuary - To help turn clients’ homes into Cherished Places, Decorex has brought together a fabulous array of suppliers… from 39 exhibitors in 1978 to over 300 hand selected interior firms today. There will be something for everyone… and amongst it all, the inspiration to help your clients achieve the individual, the aspirational and the elusive. Oh, and there’s the Martin Hulbert champagne bar too (my little Cherished Place and sanctuary at Decorex).

Below are a couple of examples of suppliers who will be at the show…


(Image from Pinch Designs)

(Image from Abbott and Boyd)



Friday, 26 August 2011

Light Bulb moments...

Some American bloke called Thomas Edison once said (quite famously if you believe all the hype on the WorldwideInterweb) that...

‘Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.’

Now, don’t get me wrong, he sounds like a pretty smart guy, but given that he only invented (amongst other things); 

  • The electric light bulb (incandescent and not the energy efficient nonsense with the strange eerie white light) 
  • The phonograph (gramophone for the older generation, record player for the middle aged and Technics 1210s for the younger folk), and 
  • The moving picture camera (used to be called a camcorder in the good old days when everything had a single purpose; now it’s merely a secondary function on a mobile phone...) 
...I’m not sure he really knew what he was on about when it comes to interior design...

Inspiration is at the absolute heart of the design process - there’s perspiration, yes (and lots of it), but designers thrive on inspiration. It’s the spark that ignites the flame. It’s the key ingredient. It’s the Critical Success Factor (or CSF for the corporate types). It’s the Simon Cowell on the X Factor (for the Saturday night prime time televisual types)... I could go on with this, but you get the idea.

The purpose of this shorter than normal blog (did you read the tome on tiles last week??? - I deserve a little break...) is to highlight just how important everyday inspiration is to all designers and, more importantly, to illustrate that you can find inspiration and design concepts absolutely everywhere...

Let’s start with the basics. The starting point in the development of any interior design scheme is a concept. Concepts are a fundamental element of the design process as they form the basis for the colour schemes and the feel of the overall design. Across all disciplines of design, from fashion designers to graphic designers to garden designers (green and leafy is a big thing for them...), we all use concepts to provide us with that initial spark of inspiration.

The concept helps to convey the feeling and mood that the proposed scheme will create. It is also the overarching anchor for the project. For me personally, it is absolutely critical as a colour reference - more often than not I will take the original concept for my design with me when sourcing to keep me on the ‘straight and narrow’ when selecting fabrics and finishes.

Concepts can be taken from anything... paintings (old and new and created by the great, the ordinary or your two year old child), pictures of other interiors (often taken from magazines and, importantly for legal reasons, not plagiarised), innocuous photographs (of food for example) or, as is the case for me at the moment, high fashion! Many designers are also inspired by some of the great artists - for example, Matisse (due to his extraordinary sense of colour) has inspired everyone from Tricia Guild to Paul Smith. Have you ever noticed the strong correlation between the Paul Smith signature lines and ‘The Snail’ by Matisse? I suspect that Matisse came up with the original concept and then Sir Paul added the naked ladies...

A strong concept image can be hugely beneficial when designing a scheme to the point where, if it is a powerful and compelling enough image, the scheme can actually design itself... (not literally and I should point out that this does not diminish the need for the hugely cost effective services of a top interior designer - nobody in particular springs to mind).

As I alluded to above, recently I have been using high fashion imagery as concepts for many of my projects. More specifically, I have used the images as the inspiration for the colours in the schemes that I have been using in each of the rooms that I have been designing.

In the images below I wanted to illustrate how effective this can be as a relatively straightforward principle... I have paired high fashion images with interiors to demonstrate how a designer can use an image as the inspiration for their design...

(Images from Greige and The Style Files)
(Images from Girl of the Sun by Sigrid Agren & Patrick Demarcheier and Ruby Rhino)
(Images from Griege and Plastolux via The Diversion Project)
(Images from Style Bust by Chris Benz and Fresh Home)

So, back to an inspirational closing statement from Mr Edison - I fear that I haven’t given him quite enough credit for all he has accomplished. After all, he did come up with the basic principles of mass production that now dominate our world and we couldn’t live without... I’m thinking Top Shop, Zara and H&M rather than Ford or Toyota...

‘Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something.’

Not a bad missive to bear in mind when seeking out your source of inspiration...

Friday, 19 August 2011

On the tiles…

Did you know that the phrase ‘a night on the tiles’ refers to the noise, or ‘unholy din’ that cats used to make on British rooftops at night? Apparently the phrase originates from the early 1900s and we use it now to describe the aftermath of a big night out (a night usually fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol and involving ‘throwing some tasty shapes’ on the dance floor). Anyway, all very interesting, but absolutely nothing at all to do with my blog this week. This week I am going to provide an introduction to choosing tiles for inside your home - it can be a bewildering and time consuming process (read ‘soul destroying’ if you are a bloke), simply due to the wide variety of tiles available, variability in quality, size and finish and complicated further by the sheer cost of it all. A daunting prospect... well, maybe...

So, why are we on the tiles this week? Well, I don’t want to blow my own trumpet (it’s more of a kazoo, or a vuvuzela), but this weekend I am one of six hand picked designers at the Surface Open Day, providing complimentary advice to clients on how the use of tiles can elevate schemes in the house and garden from the ordinary to the sublime, without actually costing the earth.

For those you unable to make the open day (details are on the Surface website), here are some of my top tips to bear in mind when tiling your home...

I’ll start by stating the obvious (as usual) - within the home there are four main areas where you might consider using tiles; the entrance hall (high traffic so need for something durable), the bathroom (waterproofing), the kitchen (both for cleaning and durability) and outdoors (well, you aren’t going to use carpet, are you?). Below are the key considerations for each of these different areas. 

BATHROOMS 

The bathroom is the most obvious place in a home to find tiles and, as noted above, this is mainly for waterproofing, cleaning and hygiene factors - and to be frank, wallpaper isn’t really going to do the trick. In fact, many paints (unless designed specifically for use in a bathroom environment) won’t last long either.

Many people don’t realize that the size of the space you are planning to tile (either in full or in part) will drive some specific considerations that you need to take into account, primarily the size of the tile and the colour.

Size of Tiles: When it comes to tiling your bathroom size really does matter (although my husband might disagree). If you choose your tiles wisely you can make your bathroom look larger and more airy than it actually is. Obviously, if you make a foolish decision you can successfully achieve the exact opposite of this...


Tiles come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, ranging from the ‘accepted standard’ up to very large field tile formats - that said, the ‘standard’ tile is fast disappearing as most manufacturers provide a huge menu of size options (which can make decisions even more difficult). While it's not wise to use very large tiles in a small space (they will dwarf the room), a medium-format tile will give a much sleeker look than smaller tiles, which inevitably show more grout lines... However, it's important to look at the positioning of the fixtures and fittings before deciding on a tile format. If the bath, toilet and sink are all in close proximity with very limited wall area between them, smaller tiles would actually create a much better flow and coherence to the design.

That said, a big trend for 2011 is to use large statement tiles to create a seamless look (so, very few grout lines, which is also a good thing from a hygiene and cleaning perspective). Stating the obvious once again, but large tiles are particularly suitable for large, spacious bathrooms (including those with high ceilings) or en-suites where you can carry the tiling through into the bedroom.

It is also worth noting a more subtle point - large areas of tiling look more convincing than small ones (relative to the size and scale of the room and its features). A bathroom tiled floor to ceiling looks elegant, whereas a rectangle of three deep tiles along the length of the bath just looks cheap (remember your student accommodation or your first rented flat in London).

Colour of Tiles: There are several ways in which you can make a small bathroom feel larger. Light coloured bathroom tiles (i.e. white or cream) can make small spaces feel much bigger as they reflect the light much more effectively than darker colours - this in turn gives an airy and spacious feel to the room. However, if plain white is a bit too bland for your tastes and you need something a bit more Marmite, try adding interest and contrast with tiles that have an unusual surface texture. You can always add colour in the form of towels and accessories later.

Using the same colour for the wall tiles and the floor tiles will also give your bathroom a more spacious feel (note - they don’t have to be the same sized tiles). To enhance the seamless effect within the space, you can also use a similar coloured grout with the tiles (which also helps blend in the grout lines more effectively).



Image form Furniture Fashion by Group 41 Architects

Type of Tiles: If you’re talking floor tiles, texture is an absolute must. It sounds like common sense (because it is), but many buyers are still seduced like magpies (or is it cuckoos?) by lovely shiny tiley things and then end up skidding around all over the place every time the floor gets wet - great for a laugh on occasion, but only until someone who watches daytime telly (usually carrying a box, a ladder or something sharp) gets a minor injury and sues for damages, which seriously increases the expense associated with the tiles. Generally, the rougher the texture, the less slippery the tile when wet. Alternatively, chose smaller format tiles such as mosaic where the grout joints and tile edges themselves lend the extra grip.

When it comes to the walls (where it is harder to walk and to fall over), shiny tiles look ‘tres chic’ (‘very chic’ if you don’t speak French), sleek and reflect light very effectively - as a result, they are a good all rounder (and another candidate for small or dark spaces).

KITCHENS 

These days, tiles are found in the majority of kitchens, ranging from small splash back features behind hobs and sinks, to fully tiled kitchen floors and walls.


Image from Style Files


Given that the kitchen is perhaps the most frequently used room in the home (I think I may have said that about quite a few rooms), often an entrance to the garden, a sleeping area for pets (as well as a zone for systematic destruction of the home from the inside out) and storage for heavy domestic appliances, it is important to choose a floor tile that is hard wearing, scratch resistant and easy to clean.

Size of tiles: As with bathrooms, for very small kitchens you should consider small/medium floor tiles to create a better and more effective flow. Larger format tiles look best in kitchen areas that are fortunate enough to have a lot of floor space - so, where a large number of tiles can be laid without cuts.

Type of tiles: Due to its hard-wearing properties the most common choice is a porcelain floor tile (no, not quite like teacups) for the kitchen. Alternatively, natural stone tiles (travertine, quarry, slate) can offer a fantastic and distinctive effect.

A further consideration is cleaning and hygiene; grouts can now be bought with antibacterial additives - these are great in food preparation areas as they prevent the growth of bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. They also help prevent discolouration of the grout over time (which is also an issue in the bathroom given the amount of water flying around and the fact that it is often damp and humid or ‘hot... damn hot... hot and wet...’ as Robin Williams would have eloquently put it in Good Morning Vietnam).

ENTRANCE HALLS

Hallways receive the highest footfall in the home, hence it is important to choose a floor that is supremely hard wearing. Check that the tile wear rating (PEI rating) is suitable for the area in question. Also make sure that the tile is scratch resistant and easy to clean

If outdoor shoes are going to be frequenting the floor (for those people who don’t freak visitors out by asking them to remove their shoes immediately when they arrive), then it may be preferable to choose a darker coloured floor grout, which will in turn influence your choice of colour for the tile or stone itself.

Wall tiles are also a great way of making a statement at the entrance of your home. I love the image below, particularly as it also combines stone and wood...


Image from Houzz Jessop Architects

OUTDOOR FLOORING

If tiles are for outdoor use then they need to be able to resist the weather - this doesn’t just mean water (but it doesn’t include wind and it would be stupid to include earthquakes because they’re just destructive). If you live in the UK or another part of the world with frost conditions and temperature variability/volatility, then you will need to ensure your tiles do not absorb too much water (which can expand and damage the tile when it freezes and cause serious cracking). These types of resilient tile for outdoor use are known as vitreous or impervious. A vitreous tile typically absorbs less than three percent of its weight in water and an impervious tile less than half a percent.

Type of Tiles: Your best bet is to choose a porcelain tile for outdoor use because of their very low water absorption; alternatively, some types of natural stone are also suitable, including slate which has very low water absorption levels (even less than 1%). A considered choice will ensure that your tiles don’t crack during the deep and bleak UK winters that we have become accustomed to.

OTHER IMPORTANT GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

1. Tile Co-ordination: This sounds rather obvious but do not ignore the surrounding colour scheme when choosing tiles. Simply bearing in mind the colours that will match well with the overall design can make the task of choosing floor tiles so much easier.

2. Underfloor Heating: Floor tiles may feel cool on bare feet, but this can often be driven by the surface underneath the tiles (more often than not concrete). So, for example, tiling onto wood (which can ‘breathe’) will create a warmer feel than tiles that are placed on top of concrete. Underfloor heating will add luxury at a surprisingly small cost. It adds little to the thickness of the floor tiling so can be installed in most instances and it frees up valuable wall space.

3. Maintenance: If you are purchasing natural stone tiles (i.e. travertine, marble, slate), they tend to be quite porous, so you may need to apply a seal to stop the tiles absorbing water (particularly if using outside). Make sure you get the right advice for sealing and treating the tiles before and after fixing (and then work out if this is the right tile for you).

4. Price: At the least expensive end of the scale is a standard sized ceramic floor tile. Moving up in price you are getting into the territory of porcelain tiles and larger formats (or indeed mosaics). Luxury natural stone is likely to be at the top end of the price scale and can also be a little more expensive to install due to the extra labour involved in fixing and sealing. View tiles as an investment, not a cost - according to the ‘trusted estate agents’ (who we haven’t heard from for a few weeks - they’ve been on ‘oleday), tiles can add value to your home so be prepared to invest money and time. Pay a little more and get something that really makes your bathroom special. Never compromise on quality, which can still be picked up at great prices if you know where to look and what to look for.

5. Contingency: Always purchase an additional 5-10% more tiles than you actually need. This allows you (or the tiler) to compensate for cuts and breakages and ensures that you have the same batch/shade should you ever need additional tiles (or have a little mishap). Most companies will offer a refund on unused boxes of tiles if you do want to return extras after the work is complete.

6. Attention to detail: In the end the success of all tiling in the home depends on thorough preparation, careful calculation and attention to detail. Enough said.

So, that’s it for tiles. Come and join me at Surface tomorrow if you are in the Greater London area - closest airport is probably Heathrow for those of you who are so intrigued that you are planning to fly in specially. We’re also quite close to Battersea Heliport. But as it’s work, work, work tomorrow no ‘night on the tiles’ this evening for me - more like a full ‘day on the tiles’ tomorrow. You never know, next week we may start thinking about ‘painting the town red’. Sorry. Best I could do. Very long blog this week. Tired.





Friday, 12 August 2011

I really wish I’d bought that Banksy...

I have hinted at the importance of artwork in previous blogs, so this week I have decided to do a shorter blog (it is the summer holidays after all...), with a few very practical top tips when thinking about art for the home (particularly wall hanging art, as this represents the majority of art in the home). It is worth bearing in mind that art is not just an important element in the design of a room; if you have a good eye and choose carefully, it can also be a very lucrative investment...

Statement objects and artwork can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a room, especially if they are pieces to which the eye is naturally drawn (to be clear, this doesn’t mean huge sculptures of Greek Gods, tacky family portraits in oil or ‘super contemporary’ paintings that could have been done by a three year old and have no more than a random splash of ‘super bright’ attention grabbing colour - I’m not being critical of contemporary/abstract art - I love Mark Rothko, but give me a tin of blue paint and I could churn those babies out by the truck load - joking!!!). Many designers will in fact design a room with a particular statement object in mind, whether it is a piece of wall hanging art or a sculpture (in honesty, these days it may even be a light or a chair - modern design has very successfully blurred the traditional divide between ‘furniture’ and art).

So, when thinking about artwork for your home as part of the design process, it is worth considering the following:

Consistency: A collection of artwork looks fabulous when linked by scale, style, colour and subject matter (such as black and white photography - in fact, what I am really saying is a series of linked black and white photographs). Consistency can vary room by room throughout the home, but some level of consistency in each definable space is important. Stating the obvious once again, but artwork should also complement the broader style and colour scheme of the space

Scale: Scale plays an important role in the impact and effectiveness of your artwork. For instance, if you have an open (think ‘big’) and airy space (think ‘high ceilings and lots of natural light’), with architectural interest (think ‘properly old and not self adhesive decorative coving’), consider introducing a gigantic piece of statement artwork. A single piece of art in a large space can help strike the perfect balance between the architectural assets of the room and the furniture. You may also want to consider linking it with a series of smaller pieces, grouped separately in another area of the room (to create extra interest and to improve consistency).

Symmetry: Symmetry and asymmetry are important things to bear in mind when displaying pictures. Symmetrical groups of art are a great way to bring greater impact to a room and to emphasise each of the individual pieces, even if each picture is, relatively speaking, quite small (when compared both with the size of the room and the size of other pieces of art elsewhere in the home). Asymmetry can be as equally effective, but it does create a different feel within the space (less formal and less structured). It is very fortunate that asymmetry does work as my husband has found that this is the predetermined outcome when I ask him to hang more than one piece of art (when it comes to DIY, he’s got all the kit, but he’s still sh...)

Cost: Don’t be restricted to (typically pricey) artwork from a gallery. Artwork doesn’t have to cost the world - you can frame anything; maps, postcards, posters, wallpaper, even record sleeves... all of which can be as impactful as something from a gallery (and infinitely more personal). Don’t underestimate how much impact a frame can have when wrapped around an everyday item... All that said, remember, art is also a lucrative investment - so, if you do have some cash, do take the time to investigate the market, compare different pieces and ensure you are adequately equipped to make an informed choice

Framing: The way in which you frame a piece of art (or everyday object) has a huge impact on whether it will be successful and effective in your home. Good framing enhances your pictures, while bad framing just, well... looks bad (and, worse still, cheap). Perfect framing enhances your picture and draws the eye to the image. For example, consider framing an ‘arty’ postcard - it will be far more impactful if you use a large mount which draws your eye to the postcard in the middle of a blank space than if you use a frame the size of the card. Also remember that frames are meant to complement your artwork. Don’t let the frame overwhelm the image.

Hanging: In general, artwork should be hung so that the centre point of the picture or grouping is at about eye level for the average person (I say average person very deliberately as my hubby and I are not the tallest people in the world, so if we followed the eye level guide for us our art would be nailed to the skirting board). While this principle won't be possible in every situation, it's a fairly good rule of thumb to bear in mind. However, you should also think about how pictures interact with the furniture and objects around them - in some circumstances it may be worth forgetting hanging convention and positioning your artwork low over a console so that it is ‘read’ by the eye as a group with the furniture around it and display items on it. Stating the obvious once more, but artwork and photographs framed and propped up on shelves or fireplaces offer an informal way of displaying art and can look very effective when combined with other objects.

Below are a few examples of interiors where the artwork has a real impact on the feel of the space...


Image from Houzz By Ed Ritger Photography

Image from Matt Martino
Image from Style Files by Andyland
Image from B&B Italia

Image from Adriane Strampp By Sean Fennessy

So, what’s the story behind the Banksy? Well, a number of years ago my husband saw a Banksy he really liked for sale in a gallery for about £9k (expensive, but not silly if bought as an investment). In honesty, it probably could have looked pretty good in our study (‘could’ being the operative word), but I dug my (Jimmy Choo) heels in at the time because I wasn’t completely sure and we didn’t buy it... the very same Banksy is now worth more than £150k... Complete disaster and something my husband will not let me forget (as he still wants a Banksy but can’t actually afford it)! I should have just redesigned the study around the art, but then hindsight is a truly wonderful thing... at least the heels weren’t damaged.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Donde está mi hotel del diseñador?*

Given that we are smack bang in the middle of the holiday season I thought I would depart from my recent series of blogs and share details of my surprise whirlwind weekend trip to Madrid (booked by my devoted hubby to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary - although, all that good stuff said, only two years to go until we reach seven years and then I might consider trading him in for a younger, richer and fitter model). Surprisingly (I am expressing surprise because my husband booked the weekend), we stayed at the Hotel Puerta America and, if you are anything like me and love design and super cool contemporary interiors, you will absolutely adore this place (and then some)...

Hotel Puerta America is a hugely successful collaboration between several of the most eminent and innovative architects and designers from around the world. The hotel literally represents the who’s who of interior design (I have all the geeky ‘marked up’ pictures in my library of ‘best of’ design textbooks to prove it), and it’s all housed in one modern building (with an alluring selection of bars and restaurants to complement the hotel itself). For someone like me who is passionate about design, it was fascinating to have the opportunity to understand how 12 different and inspiring architects and designers interpret exactly the same space on each of the different levels within what, if I am being fair, is a fairly standard building. In short, the results are absolutely astonishing - each floor felt like a totally different space and provided an amazing wealth of diversity, both in terms of design and the actual experience of being in the lobby area of the floor or in the rooms themselves. I should at this point explain that you can actually go on a tour of the hotel - it’s not one of those scenarios where you roam the floors and walk into what you think is an empty hotel room and find someone standing naked or, worse still, doing something naughty...

So, as I said, each of the floors has been conceived by a top class designer and each showcases something entirely different and unique... From the colourful, impactful and sleek lines of Marc Newson (Floor 6) to Kathryn Findlay’s white Tatooine** inspired pods (Floor 8 - where we stayed in one of the Suites!), to the industrial feel of the purely stainless steel Floor 4 (designed by Plasma Studio). Alongside this, there are more design ‘heavyweights’, including; Sir Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid (with a floor of flowing organic lines) and Jean Nouvel. There genuinely is something for everyone here - from curvy minimalism, to bright red bathrooms that feel like the dressing room for a movie star (minus the rider that specifically demands only the yellow M&Ms, a large bowl of ‘white powder’ and pink fluffy bunnies), to strange combinations of vibrant colours, wood, glass, Corian and stainless steel - all combined very effectively in one ‘five star’ luxurious space. 



  • First Floor : Zaha Hadid 
  • Second Floor: Sir Norman Foster 
  • Third Floor: David Chipperfield 
  • Fourth Floor: Eva Castro and Holger Kehne (Plasma Studio) 
  • Fifth Floor: Victorio and Luchino 
  • Sixth Floor: Ron Arad 
  • Seventh Floor: Marc Newson 
  • Eight Floor: Kathryn Findlay 
  • Ninth Floor: Richard Gluckman 
  • Tenth Floor: Arata Isozaki 
  • Eleventh Floor: Javier Mariscal - Fernando Salas 
  • Twelfth Floor: Jean Nouvel 

(Floor 1 – Zaha Hadid - Image by Rafael Vargas)
(Floor 6 – Marc Newson - Image by Rafael Vargas)
(Floor 4 – Plasma Studio - Image by Rafael Vargas)

It really is an extraordinary pastiche of styles honoring the best in the industry - in some ways it will probably become a gallery... a tribute... an illustration of the most influential designs of our time...

As you walk in through the frosted glass entrance you are immediately immersed in a fabulous organic reception designed by John Pawson (where you are presented with an ipad to view the 12 different floors and to choose where you would like to stay). We chose a suite on the 8th floor designed by Kathryn Findlay. The pure white room is Star Wars inspired, with organic shaped seating and white sheer curtains used to separate all the different areas including the bathroom and standalone bath - simply divine, although I don’t envy the cleaners or recommend puppies...



(Floor 8 – Kathryn Findlay - Image by Rafael Vargas)
(Floor 8 – Kathryn Findlay - Image by Rafael Vargas)
(Floor 8 – Kathryn Findlay - Image by Rafael Vargas)

The spacious public areas have received just as much design attention - from the elegant Lagrimas Negras Dining Room, by Christian Liagre (one of my favourite designers) to the minimlist Marmo Cocktail Lounge, with its gleaming Carrara Marble bar top (where a serious amount of Cava was consumed during the course of the weekend).



  • Public Areas- John Pawson
  • Restaurant- Christian Liaigre
  • Landscape- Harriet Bourne and Johnathan Bell
  • Lighting- Arnold Chan
  • Lighting- Jason Bruges
  • Garage- Teresa Sapey
  • Bar - Marc Newson
  • Architectural Project- Felipe Saez de Gordoa



    (Marmo Cocktail Lounge - John Pawson- Image by Rafael Vargas)  
    (Lagrimas Negras Dining Room - Christian Liagre - Image by Rafael Vargas)


    Somehow it works perfectly, all hanging together as it would in a gallery of the finest in contemporary art. The unifying themes are luxury, comfort, embracing different concepts and, importantly, a no-expense spared attitude towards budget. An awesome weekend away where my husband earned a few extra brownie points - I might just keep him for a few more years... I have heard there is a similar hotel in Copenhagen that I may just want to visit for our next anniversary.

    *Where is my designer hotel?

    **Tatooine is a fictional planet from the Star Wars saga. It rests in the distant Outer Rim, beyond the reaches of Republic and Imperial law. Even the Trade Federation lacked a presence on the desert planet. Poor, with very little industry to boast, Tatooine is a mixture of hard-working locals attempting to extract a living from the unforgiving environment and transients visiting the world for... oh, you get the picture...
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