guide

david collins

Then speak to David Collins about a refurb. georgIna wIlson-powell meets the man that’s decked out most of London’s top hot spots...
If you were going to be an interior
designer, you’d want to be David Collins. About as far from the smallscreened abomination of Laurence Llewelyn Bowen’s flouncy caricature of interior designers as you can get, sleek and sophisticated Collins designs award-winning bars for a living (well, for part of his living). Then there’s the private penthouse suites, luxurious boutique hotels, private residences, yachts and restaurants that makes up the rest of the David Collins Studio’s work. Oh and he once designed a concept bedroom for Madonna. The Dublin-born, London-living, GQ Award-winning (for Inspirational Man of the Year) designer has wracked up an embarrassment of awards in the last year, including Best New Interior for The Connaught Bar at the British Design Awards; Wallpaper*’s Design Award for Best Personal Service (which relates less to Collins himself and more to the bespoke Martini trolley he introduced) also at The Connaught.

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Then there’s the interestingly named House & Garden Pineapple Award for his Outstanding Contribution to Hotel Design, and Travel + Leisure magazine voted his London West Hollywood hotel their number one in California. We could go on, but you get the idea. The man is popular in the right circles. Collins’s aesthetic is simultaneously grand but modern, elegant but freshly coloured and combines artisan furniture and luxury fabrics with a sense of grace not often seen outside period renovations. It is important to him to use quality materials “because materials, like us all, age, change and adapt with time so you have to ensure they will actually improve with age rather than deteriorate”. He formed his studio in 1985 and since then has designed interiors for Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White and self-styled fashion DJ Pierre Ravan, as well as at J Sheekey, Nobu Berkeley, The Blue Bar at Claridges (right) and Bob Bob Ricard (which won Best New Design at the 2009 Time Out Eating & Drinking awards for its “quirky touches, exuberance, fearlessness and infidelity.”) But Collins is not bothered by his myriad mantelpiece monuments. “I do not tend to think about awards that I have won. I am sure that there are many that have eluded me and I would be delighted to win any more!” He might be delighted further then next year as it has just been revealed that he is the bar and Roman-inspired restaurant (Massimo) designer for London’s only new five-star hotel to ▶

●● Collins is not bothered by his trophies: “I don’t tend to think about awards that I have won”
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david collins

design for living: david Collins has won many awards for his cutting-edge contemporary approach to public spaces and private properties

▶ open this year – in the last quarter – The Corinthia. The Corinthia is, in fact, the old Metropole Hotel which opened in 1886 in Whitehall Place, moments from Trafalgar Square, and a perfect canvas for Collins’s grand designs. Although his sense of style has a feeling of old-fashioned London glamour about it he is “affected by the cities and the locations where I work. I think you get a different vibe between Rome, Milan, Paris and London so I’m inspired by local culture, music and art.”

●● luxury is not an excess nor a lack of anything – it is comfort, elegance and indulgence
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Spreading his wings this year, Collins is involved in two far-flung residential projects – not a new area of expertise as he’s designed penthouses in New York and London – but Bangkok and Baku, Azerbaijan, might not have been the first places you’d expect to see him unfurling the plans. However, the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Bangkok are located in what will be the city’s tallest tower (from floors 23-72), the MahaNakhon, south-east Asia’s most expensive mixed-use space development ever, weighing in at 18bn bahts ($555m). The two- to five-bed single floor or duplex apartments will be the premier living spaces in Bangkok and Collins has taken his inspiration from high-end Manhattan living, Vanderbilt style. The apartments aim to convey “minimalist luxury”. Collins explains what this means to him: “Luxury is not an excess nor a lack of anything, so it is getting comfort, elegance and indulgence at the correct balance, this is what I see as being minimalist luxury. “I look upon residential projects as an opportunity to become very detailed and immersed in the design and he working of a particular project. I often take some of the learning from these experiences into working on public spaces.” It’s the public spaces he’ll be working on in his other location this year, Baku, in Azerbaijan. “I love the whole design of the town of Baku. What particularly struck me was the really exquisite timber rooms perched out like bird-cages over the streets below.” The Port Baku Residence project aims to bring modern luxury living to this east-meets-west port that is predicted to see a spike in tourism in the next few years. “It’s an interesting project for us,” says Collins. “We are doing something in a country that has got a very interesting cultural mix and is set in a

very beautiful city. We wanted to bring a chic and elegant lifestyle into some of the residential developments there.” And what of Collins himself? Does his home – an apartment with terrace in west London designed for entertaining – have a chic and elegant feel? “My own home is decorated in a completely impractical and selfindulgent way where my shirts have pride of place. I tend to spend most of my time just lying on my sofa either watching TV or staring out of the window; it suits me perfectly.” ■

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