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Her work is distinctive, distinguished and influential. BARRY BEGG discusses the drama and dimmer switches of great interior design with Scottish Woman’s tastemaker of the month


sumptuous palette of sophisticated neutrals and arresting accent colours. . . bold graphic effects, beautifully judged lighting, intriguing accessories, and a perfect accommodation between drama and comfort. Ah, this could describe any interior by Amanda Rosa, the designer behind some of the most acclaimed hotels and restaurants in the UK and beyond. Join me in saluting one of Scotland’s true tastemakers. Recent Scottish projects have included the ravishing new spa at Gleneagles and the Dakota hotels at Eurocentral and Forth Bridges. The client for the latter was Amanda’s husband, the pioneering hotelier Ken McCulloch. It was also for Ken that she created the striking original

interiors that made his Malmaison concept such an instant hit. Surely working for one’s other half can’t be easy? “Ken is my most demanding client,” Amanda admits, with a peel of laughter, “but I’ve worked with him for over twenty years and we do work extremely well together. He is so passionate about his projects. And he’s great at thinking outside the box – always coming up with the unexpected.” Amanda’s work is also enriched with touches of surprise. She hung giant Playboy billboards on the walls of the bar at Dakota, and rows of glass vases almost as tall as a therapist stand like sentries at the entrance to her Gleneagles spa. But any Amanda Rosa




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interior seems fresh rather than gauche, overwrought, or modish. “I’m not into themes or fads,“ she explains, “purely because they date too quickly. Fashion filters into interiors; it’s a great inspiration for colour ideas. But you won’t, for example, find leopard print in my work as I don’t want my interiors to date. I prefer to use a mix of old, new, classic and contemporary.” Her eclectic mix appears deceptively effortless. “I don’t like design for design’s

sake,” she admits, “and I don’t like interiors that smack of trying too hard – like wearing Burberry check head to toe, it simply doesn’t work. I create comfortable spaces . . .spaces you would like to spend time in. And I find inspiration in lots of things. For a particular project in Paris, my inspiration came from a film with fabulous music, a particular colour, and a pair of silk stockings. From those three things, I knew exactly how the finished job would look.”

She agrees her style has evolved over the years. “I think my goal now is to create calm, luscious interiors. But when I worked on Malmaison, I played with bold colour to achieve dramatic effects which didn’t cost a fortune.” Making a modest budget stretch a very long way is certainly one of her special skills. “The Dakota concept was especially challenging because every penny counted. I think it looks as good, if not better than a lot of hotels which have



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ABOVE: Amanda Rosa’s signature neutral palette at Dakota Eurocentral LEFT and BELOW: her sumptuous new spa at the Gleneagles Hotel

“my goal I THINK is to create calm, luscious interiors” had a design budget two or three times greater. I love the juxtaposition of the dramatic black exterior and the warm interior with its big open fires.” Her emphasis is on the word “love”, and passion is certainly a key factor in Amanda’s success. “People who seek me out know my work, so they already have an understanding of what I’ll deliver. But I have to fall in love with the project straightaway. I have to like the ideas the client has, and know I’ll be able to work

with them.” What ideas can Amanda suggest for the average Scottish home? “Lighting can make or kill a room. It should be soft. I’d always recommend dimmer switches as they can make a world of difference. Spend the most you can afford on major pieces. But stick to neutral colours for sofas, and complete your room with colourful, inexpensive high-street accessories.“ An inspirational recipe, don’t you think, for a space you’d love to live in?




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Amanda Rosa Feature