Hospitality Design

Over the past several months I have been designing holiday accommodation aimed at the luxury end of the market – far beyond glamping, these buildings are intended for those who want the very best on their getaway breaks. They are about to go into production, and I am so excited to be able to share them here.

HOW?

I sort of fell into this whole scenario by accident. Initially I was asked to design the interiors by the development and manufacturing companies involved, but I ended up designing the entire buildings as they liked my ideas and encouraged me to do them. I also agreed initially to work on them as they are made from carbon neutral materials – using amazing new technology and products to recycle and reuse materials. I am passionate about sustainable design, and so this really piqued my interest. I was also challenged to create a design that would be fabricated off-site, and then shipped in to construct so as to avoid as much disruption to the landowners as possible. They can be totally off-grid; water, power and waste can all be managed in a sustainable way as well. What’s not to love?!

Once the designs are done, a structural engineer and the manufacturing company take over to make sure they are fit for purpose and fulfilling all building regulations. Although I am a designer, I am not a qualified architect so these measures are 100% necessary. We have an amazing alternative to standard foundations, these buildings sit on what basically look like huge screws. These are embedded in the ground, and can go near tree roots, on uneven ground, into a lake bed and so on.

THE DESIGNS

I designed 3 different houses based on natural shapes – The Seed, The Poppy & The Bud. They comprise of an octagonal inner house wrapped in an external skeleton of curved, linear struts which embrace the inner house. The sizes and configurations vary, offering choice to the customer in terms of scale, site and cost. They are raised above the ground to elevate the views, two have roof terraces, and the other had an internal balcony so that you can be above the canopy to take full advantage of the views and location.

THE DETAIL

We also commissioned some fly-through videos to show how the designs look in place, although I had built them in 3D I needed some superior rendering and animation skills to really bring them to life – they look amazing.

With the whole Covid scenario, the desire for holidays in the UK has really changed, and these are perfect for staycations when set in beautiful landscapes and woodlands. The company has had amazing feedback for them, and orders are coming in. I have to pinch myself occasionally from what started as a doodle in a meeting (below) to the realisation of the final product.

The starting point….

Restaurant Design

During the lockdown I was asked to design a restaurant for a new development being built in SE London – a luxury destination restaurant spread across 4 floor and with astounding views across the city which are crying out to be celebrated.  The local area has a rich history which was reflected in the design elements such as metalwork, glass and other materials.

Each level has a coherent design which changes and morphs slightly as the guests rise through the building.  There are wide-open and then more intimate spaces to choose from as areas to dine in.  Roof terraces mean cocktails can be enjoyed whilst taking in the views.  The site is one of the highest in London, so you can literally see for miles.

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The site has a basement kitchen and service area, plus a ground floor area which is a smart cafe in the day and a welcoming pre-dinner drink bar area for the restaurant at night.

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This ground floor space has a lift which take the guests to another level (in many respects…)

CAGE LIFT AREA NIGHT

Guests exit the lift on the 3rd floor, into the first part of the main restaurant with views straight ahead across SW London and a terrace.

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From this level a bespoke staircase leads up the 4th floor.

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The 4th floor has 360 degrees views around London and is walled entirely in glass.  To the East the views are of the City of London with landmarks such as the Shard illuminated at night.

SOUTH STRAIGHT no walking lady

By day, this area of the restaurant has a retracting roof, so good weather can be enjoyed under a protective canopy which creates beautiful shadow patterns.

the light!

In the central area of this floor are private dining pods with living walls and light portals to enjoy the stars at night overhead.

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The plans are to use the restaurant for notable chefs to take residencies, creating a gourmet destination for guests set in luxurious surroundings.

Working on student designs in isolation

The recent outbreak and isolation strategies have made it possible to work in my own studio in my home for the current University project.  I am designing a new site for the restaurant Box-E in Bristol, to include a light fitting design with a prototype model.   We wearer supposed to be having a big Crit this coming Tuesday, but now I think it will have to be virtual instead.  Although the latter part of the project is simply not possible without the fabrication facilities at my University, I have managed to get on with the rest of the work thanks to my trusty (but quite slow) Mac and subscriptions to programs like Autocad, Adobe, Sketchup and VRay.  The student rates for subscriptions make it just about affordable to use these programs, and if not there is always paper, a scale ruler and a pencil -a reversion to the old ways of designing before computers were invented.

The pro’s of this current situation are that I am not wasting 3 hours a day travelling to and from University.  It should only take 40 minutes as the bird flies, but I meet up with all commuter traffic usually, so spend a lot of time sat in jams.  This is not all negative as I have a clear ‘thinking’ time, which has got to be good for my mindfulness and wellbeing  – as long as I don’t get road rage…  Plus I get to listen to lots of music and podcasts thanks to Spotify and BBC Sounds, so I can arrive at my destination bursting with information and inspiration.  But I am also finding that being at home and not travelling this week makes these 3 hours really count as productive time.

Another pro is that I can set my computer to render whenever I want, especially overnight without worrying that I am hogging a machine from other students.  I also don’t have to pack a huge amount of bags every morning with all manner of equipment that I ‘might’ need, lug large portfolios or make a packed lunch.

The con’s are that I cannot use the amazing facilities at University at the moment, especially Fabrication where I can get messy and experiment with making things.  The technicians are really helpful and so full of skills, and as I have done a lot of the induction training on machines I can normally just get on with making samples, trying new things etc.  I also miss the  extensive library where there are a lot of magazines, periodicals and books on interiors and architecture to browse, the internet is great for information but it’s too easy to scroll and miss something compared to looking at a book in hand.

Also,  I have developed a bad habit of not really bothering to get dressed straight away now that I am stuck at home.  I have answered the door twice this week to delivery men, had a 2 meter chat with neighbours over the fence, and taken out the bins, all whilst clad in my dressing gown and at around 4pm.  Mental note: must try harder….

But in spite of all of the craziness of this week, I have still managed to build my final scale model, finish my autocad and sketchup designs, create visualisations and organise my samples.  My A1 boards are done and were ready to be printed tomorrow, (now to be electronic), and I also made a start on other Uni work such as my portfolio.

Considering that I am also working 2 days a week (also now from home), being a mum, feeding the family, doing the laundry, cleaning, gardening and running a house… I think I am doing OK!  Maybe I deserve the pyjamas and dressing gown scenario after all.

 

Concrete Light Portal Brick System

I investigated concrete as a material for my Dom-Ino house project.  I wanted to create a wall of bricks which created a clear boundary for a stairwell of a house sunk into the ground, but also which allowed light to enter the space and create interesting moving patterns and reflections on internal mirrored stainless steel walls.

I experimented with making voids in concrete brick shaped blocks.  I used squares and circles as the void shapes, which were a reference to my client who frequently uses geometry in his work.  The concrete was made from a variety of mixes using dyes.  A red tone was added to lessen the industrial grey of standard concrete, and help the wall blend into the surrounding rock face.  I found a concrete which uses 70% of slag furnace waste instead of Portland lime, which is far more ecologically practical than standard mixes.

I experimented with embedding materials into the concrete; ground glass, recycled plastics and metal.

On some models I used mirror internally to see if that would reflect light even more, but it was removed in the end in case it created extra strong light beams that might start a fire.

 

A scale model shows how the wall would behave, with strong light shapes moving through the voids as light is moved around the bricks.

Visualisations of how the wall would work in practice:

STAIRS and woman

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Autumn Fair 2019

This week I visited the NEC for The Autumn Fair, which is an exhibition for buyers covering homeware, gifts, fashion, retails solutions, home decor and more.

HOME DECOR

It is a vast space and was packed with exhibitors from across the globe.  There was colour trend forecasting also on offer, with 4 distinct trends and co-ordinating colour palettes – Dome, Scarcity, Gorge and Ritual were the themes:

Moving through the exhibition, in which there were literally hundreds of stalls, the next stop was home decor and lighting.  There were some lovely companies showing.  Coach House were particularly elegant and had a wide range of styles with a strong emphasis in oversized lighting:

I discovered a new brand called One World, and love their oversized furniture and accessories:

Plus I found a fantastic lighting company called Light & Living from the Netherlands, featured below.  Every light was beautiful, and I love the mesh pendants (which incidentally a lot of brands featured so they will be a big thing in 2020).  Their lights were beautiful, although very heavy so the practical designer in me popped out as I pondered the way to hang them safely on a standard British light fitting..

So looking at trends for 2020 home decor, colour is definitely creeping back in, even if the sophisticated greys/blush combos and Hygge remain popular.  I am really happy to see some colour after years of pale greys though….

SUSTAINABILITY

On another positive note, there was a large emphasis from exhibitors on sustainability.  I spent ages talking to a Chinese manufacturer from the Shaoneng Group about their products made from sugar cane and bamboo waste pulp.  They apply it to disposable food retail products, but it could also apply to many other home items.  It is biodegradable, water and oil proof and much more.  A wonderful product, especially for take aways and similar food outlets.

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So definitely an interesting place to visit and see what is on offer, how it is made and what some companies are doing to help sustainability and recycling.  This month I also will be visiting 100% Design & The London Design Fair, so watch this space for more ramblings…

How a pot of paint can cause chaos…

In the last couple of weeks I decided to repaint my sitting room.  It has been the same colour for ages, and I felt an update was in order.  I am getting very drawn to orange at the moment, and as the room has a lot of light and high ceilings, I felt that it could take a dark tone and create a different feel to the existing colour.  This is the room as it was…

It was originally painted in Drab, a now discontinued Farrow & Ball paint.  I chose a strong orange by Valspar called Storybook Sundown to replace it.  I have orange elsewhere in the room in the rug, upholstery and cushions and this colour complimented them the best…

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So with 5 litres I started to paint.  You  know that moment when you think ‘Hmm, not sure if I am liking this…?”, well it came pretty soon after the first coat.  I have been so used to the previous colour and this is so out of my comfort zone that I started to to think I had made a mistake.  But I decided to continue to see what would happen.

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BUT… once it was done I loved it.  Really vibrant, rich and cocooning.

Now this is where the chaos started… when I say chaos I mean a nuclear chain of events starting from the initial one pot of paint.   My sofa now looked really insipid against all of the other bright colours.  The room needed something stronger/darker in colour/tone to work with these walls.  The current sofa is a Wesley Barrell Knole, and cost a huge amount when purchased.  It is quite tired now and has been an old faithful for over a decade, so I thought this would be the time to revamp it.  Investigations into re-upholstering it revealed it costs as much if not more to do as getting a new sofa.  The seat cushions alone cost £500 for new inserts, not to mention 15m of fabric and upholstery costs.

Egged on by my daughter we set out to find a new sofa.  On my wish list the main priority was NEVER HAVING TO EVER PLUMP ANOTHER CUSHION AGAIN.  This has been the bane of my life with sofas, and actually if I add the hours spent doing it I could have learnt a new language or trekked across a country instead.  So number one priority was a sprung seat and back sofa.

Research then ensued; size, shape, fabric, finish, durability… The internet is great for hunting, but I want to see them in the flesh too and sit on them to see if they are comfortable.  A bit like Goldilocks and her chairs – too firm, too soft or just right?  A sofa is a big expense as well, so once a shortlist had been made we set off in the car on a sofa bouncing mission.

Stop one was a high street store that had not been on my wish list, but was on the way to another shop.  As we mooched about I spotted the perfect sofa; sprung, buttoned and available in the fabric I wanted. It was in DFS, is called the Trafalgar and is a modern version of the chesterfield with buttoned seat and back, plus proper springing.  The shape is more angular than the traditional rounded chesterfield but that is why it looks so nice.

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The detailing is lovely, with upholstery studs along the front:

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But this colour is too pale and I wanted a richer more textural fabric.  And voila, in their books I found:

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The perfect velvet; not shiny like a lot of modern versions but lustrous and deepest black.  And so reader, I ordered one.. and it comes in about 6 weeks to reface the old faithful Knole sofa (which incidentally is going to a very good home where it will be loved  for many more years).

So that was Chaos Element No 1.  This pot of paint has now cost me a new sofa.. but it doesn’t end there.  I like the idea of adding in more black to define the room, so black lampshades have now been ordered for the lamps around the room in black, and passementerie trimmings have been ordered to jazz them up.  That’s Chaos Element No 2.

On top of that I have now started hunting for new curtains to add more drama and tie up the room visually as the current ones are lovely, but look quite pale now compared to the other colours going on in the room, and that’s a 10ft tall bay window to negotiate as a starter.  Not something you can use readymades on easily… so let’s call that Chaos Element No 3.  I’m thinking watered black silk puddling on the floor would be a bit special…

With that I will sign off, as I need to plan how to create these curtains on a budget, but so they don’t look it.  All this from just one pot of paint…

 

 

Finally… The Bathroom is now finished.

During a very hot week 3 of us were crammed into the very small bathroom as it was refurbished. My plumbers valiantly ripped out and refitted, and I hovered a lot and worked in the evenings on redecorating it.

Here are the finished pictures.. much fresher, no more leaks and hopefully it will stand up to a few years of use well..

New W.C., wall tiles, boxed in plumbing, flooring, lights, taps, mirrored cabinet and sink cabinet:

The scratched and stained bath and shower curtain were replaced with a new steel bath and clear pivoting glass screen:

The walls got fresh bathroom paint and new flooring was laid:

My daughter can change accent colours with towels and accessories. This lovely vintage window pane came from The Beehive in Devizes:

The sink, cupboard and taps came from Victorian Plumbing and add useful storage with mixer taps with ceramic discs on lever handles. These are chrome with ebony levers. The simple large rectangular tiles have dark grey grout that won’t discolour with age, and are a welcome change from the bevelled metro tiles which are currently in most bathrooms.

This wire storage unit fits neatly in a corner and adds some more storage in the room and a little bit of an industrial vibe.

I am really pleased with how it came out, especially given the tiny size of the room. There was no way if reconfiguring the layout, which did save money as I did not have to move services, but I had to measure everything over and over to make sure it would fit as well as create much needed storage.

This was what I would call a low budget bathroom, as I sourced fixtures and fittings from suppliers direct, which saved a large amount of money than if I had bought from high street stores. Plus I did all of the decorating and flooring. But I think it looks far more expensive than it actually cost, so I am very pleased as a result… 🙌

Bathroom Revamp Planning

My daughter lives in a flat in London, and recently informed me that the bath tap had died a sorry death.  So it’s my job to fix it as the landlady.  The current fixture and fittings are a bit worse for wear, with inherited items like a cracked sink, warped bath panel, a wobbly lit mirror and a hair dye splattered bath.  To fix the bath tap meant pulling out the bath panel as well as a lot of joinery, so it made more sense to just rip out the whole lot and start again with a fresh new set of fittings.  When she moved into the flat we gave the room a lick of paint as seen below, but it really needs a whole new lotta loving…

The room is very small, with no daylight, but good ventilation installed already.  There is an extruding section of wall along one side, which hiders the ventilation and electrics, and at the base of this wall is also the run of pipes which are boxed in.  The room size is 2.2 x 1.6 m, so there are no real changes of layout possible, and I do not want to start moving plumbing and soil stacks as it is a) costly and b) does not offer me another choice of layout.

We did think about replacing the bath with a large shower, but I think this can be off-putting for resale.  So we have kept the layout, and will just have much nicer fixtures and fittings to revamp.  I have found a builder who comes highly rated, and am planning to work to the following style; clean lines, quite retro, much needed storage, a grey/white/black palette and better lighting.  The current sink has separate taps with scorching hot water, so a mixer tap will be used to stop scalding.

Tiles will be sized 600×300 simple glazed white, with grey grouting and set full height around the bath,  a mouldy shower curtain will be replaced with a fixed glass shower screen and we will introduce more oomph with dark walls as the lighting will be much better after the revamp.  Colour can be introduced with accessories, and I think it will be a lovely room when finished… small but perfectly formed.

Updates will come as it progresses… Fingers crossed it all goes well…🤞