Design Icons (2022)

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Photo: Barbara Burg + Oliver Schuh,, no reproduction without prior written permission.
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In this edition of BBeyond Architecture & Design we celebrate, once again, the vision and creativity of architects and designers around the world.

We ask participants to redefine “iconic” in the context of the built environment and their own approach to creating timeless design.

We include an interview with legendary architect Santiago Calatrava whose buildings of otherworldly beauty and scale – from bridges to railway station to museums - epitomise both the iconic and the transcendent in human ingenuity.

We find working on these annual editions inspirational and trust the readers will too.

Caroline Brand Editor
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In conversation with legendary architect...

Santiago Calatrava 8

Michael Sean Stolworthy 22

Taylor Hannah Architect Inc 32

Olga Hanono 42

Dennis Zirbel 52

Jasmin Reese Interiors 60

Thomas | Melhorn Architecture and Construction 70

Barbara Chancey Design Group 80

Gregory Phillips 86

Blyth-Collinson Interiors 94

Azaz Architects 106

Sinclair Building Architecture Design (Sin-Bad) 112

Charlie Ferrer Design Studio 118

NZA Arquitectos 124

Architecture Joyce Owens LLC 130

Alexander Waterworth. 138

JYH International Architects 146

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Santiago Calatrava, architect, civil engineer and artist extraordinaire, has created some of the most remarkable, flight-of-fancy structures of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Such is the sheer uniqueness of his design aesthetic with which he approaches each project, whether it is something functional, like a bridge or railway station, or a cultural institution, that Calatrava has acquired the kind of stratospheric notoriety transcending mere professional monikers.

For his countless admirers, the presence of a Calatrava building has the power to transform the character of an entire city.

For me, these constructions – a more apt, if lengthy description might be ‘monolithic functional art sculptures’ – have an out-worldly, ethereal quality about them. Variously reminiscent of bird wings or giant flowers or human eyes, or musical/string instruments even, many appearing to defy the laws of gravity, suspended in space, hovering over the landscape, Calatrava’s creations at once challenge and overwhelm the senses with their stupendous boldness and luminous beauty.

Each of the structures you’ve built is ground-breaking in its own way. Do you ever get the feeling that you’re expected to outperform each previous project? How do you push the boundaries?

I think the question can be answered in two different ways. The first is my personal approach, and the second the importance of the subject itself. I will start with the latter

The greater part of the projects I have been involved in are public works: train stations, museums, bridges, and recently a church. They are all destined for the public, to deliver public services. If you look at these from an architectural perspective, when you build a music hall you are landmarking the place. If you are landmarking a place, you are changing it.

For me the object of, say, a new museum is not only referential; it also creates new meaning for people using that place. It’s not just a mental thing, it is also a real thing: you are putting an object there and changing the character of an area. You are also creating a facility, and therefore adding value. For me, the more special this object is, the greater the potential added value.

That is just from an abstract perspective. Landmarking a place means increasing its prestige, changing (for the better, hopefully) its character and improving the neighbourhood. To live in Paris close to the Louvre, means quite something – it has a cachet, hasn’t it?

From another perspective, take a railway station: it is the gateway to a city through which you arrive and leave. For many people, especially in Europe with its high-speed rail, the station is the first impression they receive of a city. Its services are used by many thousands of people, even hundreds of thousands, every day; much more than many cultural institutions. So a little bit of

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culture, of art and taste, are very important in these buildings because you are communicating something to all these people every day.

The other answer to your question is more personal. I consider architecture as an art form; in this context, the architect is an artist. And just like any artist, the architect is sending a message, telling a story to people. If you look at a Monet or a Degas painting, for example, the artist is telling you a story: ‘the time I lived in was like this, the way I perceived a particular subject or object is right here on the canvas’. I too express myself though these forms I create.

On the one hand architecture makes our lives better, our communities too, and it is justified to deliver pieces of art. Architects should have the capacity, through architecture, to express themselves and say to people, ‘this is my message to you, this is what I mean about you’.

When I look at older, extraordinary buildings – even if they are small, even coming to them hundreds of years after they were built – I can read the message that these people wanted to give to me. That is part of the nature of architecture, and its capacity, to express itself or express the will of another person.

If you were asked to explain the overall message you are sending to the world through your buildings, these works of art, how would you encapsulate it?

Yes, I can encapsulate it in one word, just to be concise: it is philanthropy. If you think about what is going on in the world – for example in Ukraine – everybody is constantly subjected to images of destruction. This is the direct opposite of construction, and our job is to build things in the service of people. You see in those images people losing their schools, their homes, the roof over their heads; you see the enormous difference between having something and being a refugee.

We do things because we believe in humanity, in people, and we enjoy directly building the things they themselves will enjoy.

Even creating something as simple as a table, with a chair at the correct height so that a person can sit comfortably; the whole profession is very much inspired by this idea of philanthropy.

How has architecture evolved and have we adopted a new architectural vocabulary to fit our century?

In my opinion it is an interesting question: is there progress in architecture, or is there general progress in art?

I believe that, in essence, there is no progress in either. People live and suffer in the same way as they did a thousand years ago. Where is the progress? It is ultimately in our techniques

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and technology – in health care, or in food distribution (in which architecture also plays an important role, because distribution requires harbours, and bridges and so on).

The concept of ‘technique’ is very deeply related to the word arkhitéktōn: the téktōn is the worker, and the technique is the skill of the worker. Thinking technically allows us to think effectively about problems and create solutions. When it is too hot, I can create shade, or when it is too cold I can make a fire, and so on.

But the vocabulary is also personal expression: it’s about finding shapes, finding worth and making it reality. There are forms, openings; there is light as a material, there is space as a result, and these things also deliver emotions. Emotion is also a very important component of architecture, and to us as people generally. So as much as I use the word philanthropy, there is also the emotional quality of entering into a beautiful space, or enjoying that place. The emotional component is also very important in developing a vocabulary, touching not only on the physical needs of a person but also their heart.

You’ve said that you are creating a new architectural vocabulary with your works which are in the realm of the extraordinary; do you think people have understood, and adopted, this vocabulary?

Let’s analyse the word ‘extraordinary’: out of the ordinary. In material terms, things you can touch, my works use very ordinary materials. They are built with concrete, they are built with steel, sometimes we pave things with stone or even with asphalt. These are places that hundreds, even thousands, of people go through and the structures need to incorporate very resilient and rough-wearing materials. So from that perspective, I would like to say that the most extraordinary thing I have done was the roof of the UAE’s national pavilion in carbon fibre. At least the most extraordinary thing looking at it from the point of view of our time. Yet the greater number of my works use materials that are very ordinary and very common.

I agree with you that some of my projects could be described as extraordinary, which I think is the result of two things. The first is the use of certain shapes, in particular combined with the structure – being an engineer I have sometimes used spans of 7 metres, but also sometimes spans of 200 metres or more – which brings you out of the ordinary.

But where I look very much for the effect you have described is much more in the immaterial part. Space and light; the use of natural light, or artificial light, and the manipulation of space through compression and expansion – these are the most efficient ways to create emotion and let people think ‘I am in an extraordinary place’.

It is interesting to see that on the one hand, these are very common, almost everyday materials; and on the other hand, the immaterial qualities (defining the space from wall to wall, from floor to ceiling; the use of columns, and the colour white) are trying to dematerialise the material part of the architecture.

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So what you’re saying is that you’re using materials we all have access to; and you’re the one, using your particular understanding of space and light, that ultimately creates the magic of these buildings.

I remember entering Notre-Dame for the first time. It was around 11 o’clock and I entered through from the north side of the cathedral, towards the transept. At the time I was 16, 17 years old, but even so I was amazed to see the enormous, expressive capacity of its architecture with the light entering through the stained glass. The same thing happened to me with Chartres, also around Paris – someone else might say the same of London’s cathedrals, or the King’s College Chapel in Cambridge.

These are places in which the way things are done, you are blinded by the light. You can really see it, experience it with your eyes and your senses. Even the smell of these places. Then you feel as if the matter is no more there, you are almost in a magic atmosphere.

No other art has this capacity, neither sculpture nor painting. Perhaps literature, because it is experienced in the mind; or music, which we can experience by closing our eyes and be suspended in its immaterial atmosphere. But it is architecture that has this great capacity, and it was seeing these places as a sixteen year old that oriented me towards this profession.

To understand more of the material side of being an architect, I decided to study mechanics and civil engineering – I even have a PhD in a very abstract subject – because there’s this paradox in architecture, isn’t there. On the one hand so material, so massive – concrete, steel, columns, foundations and all that you need – but on the other hand the magic in its relationship to space and also landscapes. When you travel in Tuscany and you see those tall cypresses and then, on top of a hill, a beautiful house or a Greek temple. It is almost like the work of a dream made into reality. This hill is no more like the hundreds of other hills: it is a special one.

Similarly, the architecture of the city makes its identity. This aspect is eternal, in a sense. When you step back you can see it in both the typical constructions and in the ancient buildings –Greek, Egyptian, Syrian, among others – this approach to architecture that remains unchanged.

To take another example: the skyline of New York, looking out from Queens or Brooklyn in the evening. It has this almost religious experience, seeing all these buildings lit up, the bridges: it’s exceptional. Even today there is some element that moves us in the same way as a thousand years ago.

You’re right that architecture enhances our lives in a very fundamental way because we live in and around it. I know you mostly do public buildings, have you ever designed a residential project?

I have, but not all my residential projects have been completed. I designed a tower, the Chicago Spire: a very tall tower for residents, part of the Chicago skyline. It was a beautiful project. When

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we started construction there was the [economic] crisis of 2008 and the project was stopped. There was another housing project in the harbour of New York, also a skyscraper, which also remains unbuilt even though it was well received.

I designed and built a residential tower in Malmö, in the south of Sweden facing Copenhagen. It is called Turning Torso, and I am very proud of it. I was commissioned by HSB, a cooperative association – maybe 120 years old or more – which develops housing for workers and social housing. It was a great experience because they were very capable people, very certain about what they wanted.

I have built a couple of houses in Switzerland and in Rome. They are nice, I like them...

I’ve never built something in the spirit of these prairie houses of Frank Lloyd Wright and such like. It’s a dream I still hope to fulfill.

When I was young I travelled a lot, and I went to the Mediterranean looking for architecture without architects. At the time a lot of the places which are now highly touristic, like Ibiza or Santorini, were very poor. It was difficult to even get there.

I was always fascinated by the way houses were integrated in nature there and also by the deep sense of community. The uniformity of these white façades, and the geography of these houses when you step up into the hills, melding into the most beautiful landscape is extraordinary.

I once visited Mount Athos. I have made a small booklet of watercolours from this trip, called A Journey to Mount Athos; it was fascinating to see people living today in the same frame as they used to live perhaps one thousand years ago.

You’re describing vernacular architecture, when you say ‘architecture without architects’

It’s a great lesson, isn’t it, this architecture without architects. Studying the vernacular is a great apprenticeship of forms. We should treat it with great respect, because it is amazing to see how people have modified their environments.

In the past, people built using all the resources of earth: taking the stone and excavating the walls, and then using the same stones to create the chalk to paint the houses.

Adding a little blue, and making these blue domes... it is wonderful to see how, if you let them, people can use their resourcefulness and imagination to develop beautiful things.

I singled out Mediterranean architecture because I am familiar with it the most, but I am sure that going to China, to India, to Africa, or anywhere else you can discover the same thing. This is a universal spirit of economy and the welfare of people.

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Climate change is a burning issue now – no pun intended. Whether these are public projects, or residential buildings, mitigating against it is one of the most important roles that architecture has to play. What are your thoughts on the subject?

It is evident that things are changing, and it’s very important that we reflect upon how we architects can advocate too. I was recently involved in a railway station, and built several others. I’m very proud of them: shared transportation, especially by train, is environmentally sound and important.

A similar thing is happening with bridges, with which I try to add, even if just a little bit, the sense of importance it has to requalify a place. There was a philosophy after the war, which extended through the 50s and 60s, in which so many bridges were destroyed that there was no reason to do beautiful (or nicer) bridges. But when you look at Paris, for example, each one of the bridges is different and distinctive. So in a way I try to restore, in the modesty of my work, the sense of quality transportation and services in the everyday lives of people.

It’s clear for me that the next big question is how to be environmentally correct. Not only for me but for every architect. We must change our minds, reorient our constructions and choice of materials to diminish their environmental impact – what you would scientifically call the carbon footprint. We need to make more and better use of recyclable materials; we need to reduce the use of energy in our houses; and try to build more in the spirit of vernacular architecture that saw people creating buildings that were very affordable, beautiful, and adequate to their needs. That even enhanced their natural surroundings. This is what I mean with Mediterranean architecture: that if you took those things away the places would become commonplace.

This new philosophy is about living closer to nature, opening our eyes to it. There is nothing more sophisticated – scientifically, technically – than a flower. The way it opens and closes, it is magical, and in our garden, it is repeated thousands of times. It is also ephemeral, just for a couple days or so. In a way we have to find new sources of inspiration to continue creating in a more affordable way.

Your projects seem to defy gravity – how is this achieved?

We’ve been talking about space and light. Light is a material in a way: through light I am able to see you, see my hands, my environment.

Thanks to Newton we’ve learnt about gravity, that we live in a gravitational universe. Our buildings are not only vertical, perpendicular to the earth, but they also grow outwards against gravity. So gravity is also a material to work with – the mass of things, the sense of what things weigh. How to defy gravity? Take something elemental like an arch, or a vault, or a dome with a hole in the centre. If you enter the Queen’s Chapel in Westminster, or another one of those extraordinary cathedrals, you see those vaults held up by such seemingly tiny pillars.

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All these elements are using force and gravity as an expression, like the colours of a painting. You see it in the use of a particular yellow or blue, the use of complementary colours – there is a whole dialectic between colours, balance and shade. In the same way you can use gravity, creating these enormous pillars which open up like tiny trees up along the walls and create leverage and so on. It is also a very fair and direct way to find a vocabulary to create shelter, to generate spaces and also administrate the way light enters through the perforations, or however you want it to.

Your buildings are like functional art sculptures and speak for themselves. Have you had any thoughts about your personal legacy?

What has changed in my mind, over 40 years of work, is the awareness that whatever I’m making requires hundreds of other people. Imagine building a new station, who is involved? Other companies organising this or that, construction teams of welders, steel workers, masons... If you are honest with yourself, you become humble enough to feel like, simply, another worker.

So it’s not about how I want to be remembered, but I would like the coming generations –because buildings survive us, ideally, even the most insignificant ones – to take away a positive message. A message of respect, but also the same kind of experience I had entering the NotreDame de Paris, or the Pantheon in Rome. When I enter those places, I do not know the name of the architect or those of the workers, yet I know all these people. They did all those things for this particular day, for this particular moment, for me. And likewise for many others.

That is very important to recognise. I recognise myself in the work I do, together with other people, and without these people the work would never happen. So I am just one of them. What I wish is that people – when they visit these stations, these bridges and so forth – that they realise it was a group of people who delivered that project for their use and enjoyment. That, eventually, is the best way to be remembered.

So you want to pay homage to all the people who have been involved, but you’re the person who sprinkles the magic, as it were.

Maybe, but I’ll tell you what it’s like. I am paid through the satisfaction of having a profession that I like, and paid by the joy of making some of those things, which are realised with the help of those colleagues. And that’s enough.

One of the most gratifying things is visiting one of these tremendous buildings, like the Pantheon in Rome, and you see the light shining through its dome. And I do not know who thought of that, even though I know what time and epoch it was built in. That building is still there: architecture is a gift to all of us over time. We need to understand architecture not as business – okay, maybe also as a business – not as a doctrinal programme, but as an abstract suggestion. What is a piece of art for? It’s just a gift, it’s there for itself.

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Photo: Barbara Burg + Oliver Schuh, www.palladium. de, no reproduction without prior written permission


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Photo: Barbara Burg + Oliver Schuh, www.palladium. de, no reproduction without prior written permission
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Photo: Alan Karchmer

MICHAEL SEAN STOLWORTHY CURRENT-BB-2022-DesignIcons.indd 22 24/10/2022 15:45
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Michael Sean Stolworthy is the founder of, and principal creative force behind MSDM | STUDIO, a multidisciplinary art & design studio based in Las Vegas

A veteran of the corporate design world (he has worked, over a two-decade span, for clients such as Marvel Studios, Ferrari, LVMH, Microsoft, Samsung, Royal Caribbean, and Las Vegas resorts), Stolworthy made the leap into starting his own luxury art brand in 2012.

“I wanted to follow my passion for organic fluid design and express myself as an artist. I create niche and peculiar forms as functional art and sculptural objects in limited editions.”

His unique and show-stopping pieces transcend product design and straddle the art space.

“I consider myself an artist that harnesses digital technology to give me the freedom to push at the boundaries between art & design.”

His definition of iconic design is “a unique piece that stands out from the mundane and drab - where the artist’s / designer’s signature is instantly recognizable in the form. Something that is a new concept, a new method, something that evokes conversation”


PRECEDING PAGE: SPECTRUM LIGHT & SEROUS BAR STOOLS Vegas style luxury pieces for the discerning collector’s residence.


Inspired by twist wrapped candy. A design collaboration with SLICELAB of New York.

Geometrically morphed from a platonic solid into a chic network of melting voids.
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study surface flow, fluids, and geometric limitations

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to push at the boundaries of what a functional art piece can be.”


Meant to evoke so many questions, a curious piece for conversation.


Hand carved in Cosmic Black and Indian Satvario marble.

In this context the guiding principles that underpin his own iconic work are articulated below

I have always applied my 3D animation and organic surface propagation techniques to my personal work to create unusual forms. Studying surface flow, fluids, and geometric limitations to push at the boundaries of what a functional art piece can be. I aim to translate the sinuous language of nature into curvaceous fluid forms infused with a subtle balance of modern and contemporary flare

Stolworthy’s “Serous Bar Stools” were featured in the Oscar winning Marvel Studios film Black Panther in the Vibranium Tech Laboratory scenes. The sequel, Black Panther 2 is releasing in the fall 2022 and he was commissioned to design some new and unique pieces for the upcoming film.

You’ll see some very cool “organic and fluid” designs of mine when the film comes out!

Stolworthy is represented by the international Galerie Philia in New York, Geneva, and Singapore.

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When lovers want to go separate ways but can’t break the bond that keeps them together.


A seamless marriage of metals, bronze & stainless steel.


Hammer formed in bronze and hand polished, derived as an exploratory computational design.

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@tharchitect @thcuration CURRENT-BB-2022-DesignIcons.indd 32 24/10/2022 15:45
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Dee Dee Taylor Hannah, an architect and interior designer extraordinaire, is the founder of Taylor Hannah Architect Inc (THA), a multi-disciplinary practice based in Toronto, Canada that has been spreading its wings internationally to cater to ultrahigh-end clients in the residential and hospitality sectors.

Dee Dee is an award winning and honours graduate from the University of Toronto School of Architecture and a member of the Ontario Association of Architects and the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada.

In the span of her 30-year career, she has positioned THA as a leading luxury brand offering architectural, interior design and development services, as well as product design, from jewellery to fashion; from furniture to table settings.

THA’s projects range from superyachts, private aircraft, homes, country estates, multi-unit resort living, condos and restaurants across North America and the Bahamas.

“THA is wherever luxury lives.”

The practice’s DNA is defined by  “iconic design that transcends beauty. This is our litmus test”, says Dee Dee.

More recently, THA has expanded with the launch of TH Curation, a mother and daughter offshoot, conceived and managed by Rachael Taylor Hannah.

TH Curation identifies and collaborates with local craftsmen to curate timeless design collections and introduce them to the consumer.

“Legacy is central to my mission. Those who are experts in their craft respect the past and present as they look to the future. This is why my mom’s thirty-years of experience is critical to Taylor Hannah Curation. Each collaboration’s purpose is to provide the consumer with insider access to gifted creatives with compelling stories and pieces that reflect the client’s aspirations.”

In the rarefied world of starchitects and celebrity designers, THA retains its competitive edge by creating a blend of new and old, infused with a special artistic sparkle throughout, and upholding good taste and authenticity.


The top floor of an iconic 1950s office building converted to a condominium of some 4500 ft2, with 12ft ceilings, 2 bedroom, gallery hallways, lounge living with no formal dining space, gold wallpaper walls, stone archways, wood panelled walls. Classical elements laid down then topped by a modern layer. Furniture pieces from Paris, USA and Canada.

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“While our clients own their environments, we are editing their lives with creations that speak for themselves.” Like all stratospheric architects/designers, Dee Dee is a personality in her own right. She has participated in countless TV shows, events, talks, lectures, award dinners, too many to list, and has authored two books, one of which “Dee Dee’s Rules”

But, in order to break the rules, you need to know the rules to begin with, she points out. An all-important rule is to maintain respect and seek problem-solving consensus to eliminate potential mistakes because “construction is costly and everyone has a threshold”.

Ultimately, choosing an architect is about a symbiotic relationship between professional and client.

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“You walk into a room of 100 people but you gravitate to 20 persons and end up dancing away the night with one. And so it is with selecting the right architect and/or designer.”

THA’s sustainability credentials are based on ingenious renovation and bold reinterpretation of historical pieces, juxtaposed with classic modern ones.

In a Nassau project local furniture was repurposed. In Toronto, a 1910 fireplace was refurbished, using bronze metal and linear modern lighting.

Dee Dee is neither a controlled maximalist nor a minimalist: her guiding ethos is beauty, order and perfection in all things.

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“While our clients own their environments, we are editing their lives with creations that speak for themselves.”


In a Robert Stern building, a 2500 ft2 corner unit, with royal blue lacquered doors throughout, bold stone patterns, graphic art throughout, leather dining room walls, a wood panelled living room with a rolled steel fireplace.

She has also designed a number of yachts, most notably a Feadship, a sailing yacht in Newport, and a restoration of a wooden 1903 74’ Paulson.

She is currently developing her own private project in Nassau, a collaboration of architectural renovation and purity in its interiors, where she using local tradesmen.

“Two pavilions connected by a bridge, an articulated cedar and metal seam roof overlooking the ocean and the canal, with a transition of beautiful spaces both indoor and out.

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Every bedroom is a suite in itself with a formal concrete exterior staircase taking you to the main living pavilion. The scheme has bold  colours, black, white, stainless steel and concrete - all great notes for a perfect sheet of music.”

Dee Dee’s definition of iconic design: “Strong lines that outlasts the test of time, rather than one liners.”

The guiding principles that underpin her own work are: Axis, Symmetry, Repetition, Balance, Classic Rules and knowing the language in order to be able to interpret.

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OLGA HANONO CURRENT-BB-2022-DesignIcons.indd 42 24/10/2022 15:46
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Olga Hanono is the founder of the eponymous brand and one of the world’s leading designers.

Since its inception in 2000, her Mexico City studio has developed more than 500 residential and hospitality projects, both in the Americas and Europe, and won multiple awards, including the prestigious “designer of the year award” by CIDI.

Hanono is often described as a “rockstar designer”, because of her distinctive and “disruptive” style, informed both by her artistic background and strong interest in forward-looking design, resulting in one-of-a-kind spaces.

Interestingly, she has created her own colour palette and furniture collection, which has had a solo exhibition at the National Museum of Art, Mexico, as well as at the 2022 Venice Biennale. This is complemented by a lighting collection in collaboration with LLADRÓ and a number of art-related hospitality projects in progress.

The Hanono interiors look effortless and imbued with inherent sense of happiness, a combination that’s not always a given.

“My interiors are a result of a personal formula that evokes a sense of newness and sophistication at the same time. I have developed a design process whereby I integrate an artistic eye and a sum of principles that guide me to create original, unexpected results. I design in an ever-evolving way to create timeless interiors.”


H.85 is my latest residential project with a boutique hotel atmosphere. It is a 4-storey building using original materials crafted for the purpose. It incorporates a combination of black and white marbles, wide wood planks and a gorgeous staircase that has the look and feel of a five-star boutique hotel. The common spaces, as well as the suites and rooms, have a cosy feel and welcoming atmosphere but also a sense of luxury and quirkiness.

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immerse in the spirit of creation and let my ideas flow.

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I am a trend maker rather than follower.”
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Hanono’s signature is a distinctive black and white geometrical design, a recurrent feature in her interiors.

“I have found these patterns in historical properties as well as in modern digital designs. They are playful and classical at the same time, and make for exciting design elements.

I believe every personality has its own colour language. I am very sensitive to colour strategy and material selection and have integrated as many as 20 different designs incorporating exotic leathers and metallic shades in my wallpaper and textile collection.”


Iconic Design:

“An iconic concept is one that deconstructs existing ideas and proposes a new status quo; evolves different paradigms and transforms the reality into a new one.

It requires a designer’s self-belief in their ability to create new concepts with transformative energy

These are my guiding principles to creating iconic, timeless designs:

I don’t follow any rules when it comes to creativity, rather, I immerse in the spirit of creation and let my ideas flow. I am a trend maker rather than follower.

I have a keen awareness of every space’s virtue and collaborate with the client or developer to achieve their purpose.

For me every project is a work of art that I create and curate in every detail until I feel the original idea has become a magnificent reality.”

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DENNIS ZIRBEL CURRENT-BB-2022-DesignIcons.indd 52 24/10/2022 15:46
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Preceding page: The exposed structure in this Tahoe home gives the interiors a powerful presence.

Above: A series of cantilevered cubes float over a steep mountain site resonating with the rhythm of the buttes beyond.

Dennis Zirbel is the founder of the eponymous architectural firm, established in 1991 in ultra-high-end, super-affluent Truckee, California.

Initially focusing on the traditional mountain style for residential and resort architecture, the practice evolved with the everexpanding clientele and its diverse aesthetics. Zirbel’s portfolio now includes a wide variety of Modern, Mediterranean and classical retro projects.

“We believe that good design is independent of style; we can create beautiful, timeless architecture within any framework.”

Zirbel retains the appeal of a boutique style business, using a small yet highly skilled team. The majority of the firm’s projects are clustered in one of the most expensive areas in the USA - Northern California and Lake Tahoe – where clients have exceptionally high expectations.

“We have a pure and natural approach to architecture, and this resonates with many people who want to build in this area. Each

Photo: Chris Murray Productions
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Photo: Nick Sorrentino

building becomes an expression of the client’s vision and an extension of its natural setting.”

Emotional response to architecture may be considered as an intangible concept because of the perceived dichotomy between inspirational, “art for art’s sake” architecture and sustainable/ functional architecture but for Dennis Zirbel, this is a critical cornerstone of the profession.

“The emotional response is as integral to architecture as the sustainability and function of the structure.  You can’t isolate them and still be talking about architecture. Function/sustainability alone is not architecture, and “art for art’s sake” with no function is not architecture. Architecture is the harmonious coming together of these elements, and it is the architect’s role to create this union.”

On iconic architecture: “The site and surroundings need to steer the architectural design.  Listening to the land, building with the site, and integrating the structure with the surroundings are core principles of my work.”

Floor to ceiling glass windows allow inhabitants to experience the floating nature of the home from the inside out. Photo: Nick Sorrentino
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Above: A mosaic of reclaimed wood and board formed concrete add movement and dimension to the exterior. Below: A natural looking in-ground spa provides the perfect place for apres ski relaxation.
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Photo: Chris Murray Productions Above: Mixing modern materials with rustic wood accents creates a distinctly mountain modern aesthetic. Below: A billiard room with a custom oak and steel bar promotes family gathering and entertaining.
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Photo: Chris Murray Productions Above: Gabled roofs and stacked stone gracefully blend this Lake Tahoe home with its gently sloping lakefront site. Below: Detailed stonework and warm wood finishes create a warm and inviting Entry for this timeless Lake Tahoe home.
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Photo: Vance Fox Above: The structure gracefully emerges from the dramatic boulders of the Lake Tahoe shoreline. Below: A steeply sloping wood ceiling and bronze windows beautifully frame the panoramic Lake Tahoe view.
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Photo: Vance Fox

JASMIN REESE INTERIORS CURRENT-BB-2022-DesignIcons.indd 60 24/10/2022 15:46
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Jasmin Reese is the founder of the eponymous Chicago-based high end residential interior design firm that also services Naples, Florida.

At first sight, her interiors are luxuriantly maximalist, however, the limited/edited furnishings and simple styling deliver a timeless sophisticated, and polished look.

“Clients love their comfortable spaces that can evolve over a period of time, even if the interiors are not completed all at once.”

Jasmin’s aesthetic is informed by her artistic inclinations and style flexibility.

“My impulse is to blend antiques with modern elements, dark finishes mixed with light, feminine tones contrasting with masculine, and high/low pieces. My signature style includes bold wallpapered ceilings that allow artworks to be at eye level and artfully designed “color bomb” rooms that are whimsical and sophisticated at the same time

An initial collaborative “style session” determines how highoctane a client is willing to go, and then the magic starts.”

Reese has a brick and mortar “shoppe” range that is equally eclectic and colourful. She is a prolific designer of pillows, waste pins, pin boards, and she also recovers small upholstery items. Additionally, for sale are a number of architectural ink drawings as well as a few of her own and her team’s artworks.

Jasmin Reese’s definition of iconic design/concept: “An iconic design or concept is one that keeps you curious after you close your eyes; keeps you wondering, “how did they mount the hardware; where did they start and stop the color blocking; how did they hang the chairs and keep it all looking weightless?”

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style includes bold wallpapered ceilings and “color bomb” rooms that are whimsical and sophisticated at the same time.”
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Her own guiding principles that underpin her work to make it iconic are articulated thus:

“Iwanttheroomstohaveverveandspeakforthemselves.Myartistic background definitely influences my interiors: from paintings, to vintage movies, to books and travel. For instance, looking at vintage European train cars is a major inspiration for a custom closet in a historic residence (a current project), while archived images of the Titanic gym inspire me create a new gym with a whimsical theme. Looking at a Dutch still-life painting inspires the design of an entire kitchen in moody hues but with rich finishes.

My style sessions start with my pulling out images of a James Bond movie or views from hotel lobbies to spark a conversation. I can then sense a certain vibe, a certain emotion from the client that I try to channel in the interiors.”

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S BEACH ROAD CURRENT-BB-2022-DesignIcons.indd 71 24/10/2022 15:47

Thomas | Melhorn is the culmination of what began as a construction company founded in 1974 by Roger Thomas. The firm has evolved into a full service Architecture & Construction firm led by his son; Architect and Builder Christian Thomas and Architect, John Melhorn.

Raised around job sites, Christian developed a deep understanding of the building process which led to his studies in architecture. The idea of blending the knowledge of the craftsman and the academia of architecture was the genesis of a firm where he would oversee the construction of their modern and minimalist designs.

Partner, John Melhorn is a classically trained architect. His approach is grounded by his passion for traditional forms, the classical vocabulary with an emphasis of proportion, historical precedent and vernacular detailing.

Thomas and Melhorn collaborate across all aspects of each project to create a cohesive body of work. The execution of their designs relies on the tradition and techniques brought to the project by the skilled artisans & tradesman, allowing them to have a voice in the process.

“Tradesmen have a wealth of knowledge that is too frequently overlooked in the modern era. They are the artist in the field equippedwithknowledgepasseddownfrompreviousgenerations, they have a innate understanding of the materials they work with and how they are to be implemented.”

EachThomas|Melhornhomeisdesignedwithcarefulconsideration to the local environment, geography and history. Materials are intentionally curated and treated to age gracefully with the home. It is T|M belief that the materials of the previous generation provide a frame work of stories for future inhabitants.


Situated on Jupiter Island and along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, the house was designed to reside alongside the landscape creating a seamless and timeless experience.

With careful consideration to the oceanfront setting, materials were carefully curated to reveal character with age. This wabisabi approach extends to the interior with natural woods and stone intended to mark the presence of each generation.

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“Proportion and materiality are the foundations of our approach, we are constantly asking: is it honest?”
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Thomas | Melhorn has had the opportunity to design homes throughout the United States and the Bahamas. Every location requires a study of the of the surroundings and how the culture and history inform the process.

On what constitutes an iconic design/concept “Iconic design is one that carries tradition forward with an adaptation towards the modern era in an unpretentious and understated fashion.”

Guiding principle(s) that underpins own work “Proportion and materiality are the foundations of our approach, we are constantly asking, “is it honest?”.

Proportion is the rhythm to what everything is applied; the union of art and mathematics, where human perceptions transcend the visual and move into the phenomenological.

It is our belief that materials should be presented in an honest and straightforward fashion, one where the natural essence is elevated and pure. Accepting the irregularities and recognizing that everything will age, we see this as providing a voice for the soul.”

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This home, located in the El Cid Historic District of West Palm Beach is sited along the Lake Worth Lagoon with views of Palm Beach Island. The refined Spanish Mediterranean architecture is intended as a modern interpretation of the contextual fabric of the neighbourhood. The interiors are finely detailed and elegant, sophisticated and delicate; creating a subtle contrast of emotion.

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A sustainable solution to fill vacant retail space, this 8,000-square foot boutique concept was repurposed as an anchor tenant and includes four customized studios under one roof. QURE offers multisensory indoor cycling, boxing, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), personal training, and Q-Kids, a fitness-based childcare program.

Founded in 2007 by Barbara Chancey, the eponymous Texasbased Design Group is a globally recognized expert in fitness architecture and design.

From turnkey boutique fitness startups to hotels and health clubs, the group is setting a new aesthetic benchmark in this ultra-niche space, offering clients originality, expertise, and attention to detail. It is also the only international firm to provide full range of services from concept to grand opening.

“Specializing in new and independent brands, we guide every step of the journey and offer business plans, site selection, brand identity, operations, purchasing, employee training, and of course, architecture and design.

Our approach to fitness design takes inspiration from real people – instructors, front desk greeters, maintenance crews, and most importantly, the members. Unlike other architects, we teach classes and experience fitness first-hand to gain awareness skills that translate into meticulous detail.”

Designed to perform, Barbara Chancey Design Group is bridging the gap between gyms and boutiques to create clubs that are as bold and vibrant as the people who train in them.

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“With 30 years of expertise illuminating the stage of British rock legends and Broadway shows, we scoured the earth to find reliable, affordable, instructor-friendly technologies that deliver endless creativity and waitlist classes.”

The group’s expertise in sound and projection has earned it a reputation for creating dependable, robust, crystal-clear musical experiences. Audio services include design, installation, training, and maintenance.

“We are the first and only to export entire studio contents to southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean.”

Iconic design/concept in the fitness space

“Entrepreneurs have been launching independent brands at a record pace in emerging fitness markets across the globe. From Singapore to Nigeria, the boutique fitness studio is disrupting the mainstream health club industry.”

Statistics show that boutiques have grown 121% within the last 4 years, and 42% of all fitness memberships in 2018 came from boutique fitness studios, the highest membership recorded in history. Boutique studios accounted for about 21% ($22.4 billion) of the entire fitness club market according to Club-Intel Consulting.

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“Iconic fitness design should be beautiful and take your breath away, but it should also be well-executed and budget-conscious with an attention to detail you never dreamt possible. Never boring and far from basic, we infuse the local culture into every project to create a single destination for total wellbeing.”

Guiding principles underpinning the Design Group “Every project – regardless of size, budget, scale, or location – is approached with the same level of exploration, excitement, and genuine passion. I believe great design should tell evocative stories with a touch of the unexpected.

The logic behind every meticulous decision – from to the height of a reception desk to the typography or scent of a chilled towel - is a symphony of small details woven together to reflect the brand’s distinct personality.

Rooted in function, we don’t just design for today: we imagine the future and create versatile spaces that afford total freedom to accommodate new and evolving fitness trends.”


Inspired by the architectural opulence of South-East Asia, sustainability was a significant consideration in the design of Shine X, the first “bootcampinspired” fitness studio in Brunei. Reclaimed wood indigenous to the Bornean rainforest and laser-cut acoustic baffles made from recycled materials are just a few of the eco-friendly features of this luxurious 2600 square foot fitness boutique commissioned by Her Royal Highness Princess ´Azemah Ni´matul Bolkiah and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Muda Bahar.


Located in north Atlanta’s new $229 million arts-and-government complex, creating the brand identity, and providing full architecture and design to complement the Performing Arts Center which anchors the complex was a rewarding challenge. We selected sophisticated materials like walnut, glimmering metallics and blackened steel to provide a “wow” effect and a radical departure from traditional gyms in the area. The 4500 sq. ft. two level industrial-lux studio includes a soaring staircase leading to the mezzanine for cardio dance, group strength classes and yoga.

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regory Phillips Architects is a boutique London-based residential architecture and interiors practice delivering projects, from contemporary interiors to new-build architecture, renovation and landscape design, working on projects in the UK and internationally.

The firm, which was established some 25 years ago, specialises in award-winning residential schemes that are timeless, considered, and of the highest quality.

“Each project gives us a chance to create something spectacular but our process is quite simple: we help our clients form a vision of how they would like to live. Then we make it happen.”

Gregory Phillips’ definition of an iconic design/concept


Berkshire House II is a substantial 550sqm five bedroom modernist new build home in a suburban village in Berkshire. Occupying a spectacular woodland site overlooking the river Thames, it replaces an existing dilapidated dwelling that one of the clients had grown up in. The brief required a new house that would valorise the site and allow the owners to entertain, but primarily function as an intimate home for their family of six. The design concept and layout of the modern house was conceived with two faces – guest accommodation, a playroom and utilitarian spaces on the public north side, and family living spaces, bedrooms overlooking the beautiful south facing mature one acre wood garden. At the centre of the house is a unique double height entrance and dining hall, with six-metre tall sliding glazed doors and glass walls, providing a theatrical connection between inside and out. In the garden, two timber clad volumes ‘float’ at the level of the trees, on top of a completely glazed south facade. This was only possible with the use of deep balcony overhangs, providing crucial shading in the summer months. At the front, the new house is more private, set back from the road with the use of an entrance courtyard – flanked by a garage to one side. A structural beam, trellis planting and ‘hidden’ entrance are used to provide a layered approach to reaching the front door. Arriving into a modest entrance space, one is then gradually led into the double height entrance hall where the views of the site are finally revealed. Materially, the house uses robust, raw and contrasting materials that were considered not only in respect of neighbouring properties, but also the dominant landscape. Danish grey brickwork compliments whitened Canadian Western Red Cedar cladding, polished concrete floors and milled-anodised glazing frames. This contemporary family home aims to be architecturally exemplary whilst also being highly energy-efficient.

“Designs that are contemporary and comfortable; practical and luxurious; crafted and elegant. Iconic design combines all of these characteristics.”
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“Through dialogue and attention to detail, we create contemporary, elegant and practical solutions.”

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This extensive Grade II Listed building refurbishment in Sevenoaks included reconfiguration and contemporary extension to a farmhouse and barn in Kent. By reconfiguring the Ground Floor plan and adding a glazed extension housing the new kitchen, the property now provides the family with an arrangement suited to open plan living, while maximising views of the idyllic rural setting from the rooms they spend the most time in. The modern kitchen extension forms a link between the old farmhouse and the barn which was previously an isolated space and largely unused. Through attention to detail, proportion and scale, we designed an extension that complements and respects the character of the existing Grade II listed property and barn yet stands alone as a bold sculptural form in its own right. The transition and relationship between interior and exterior spaces have been carefully considered. The proposed landscaping was designed and detailed by Gregory Phillips Architects to gently integrate the sculptural form of the extension into the surrounding landscape. The refurbishment of the existing house included alterations to the layout in order to maximise natural light and rationalise the plan. The palette of materials and detailing creates a contemporary aesthetic that works alongside the traditional character of the property.

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In this context, why and how does “modern matter”.

“We believe in using materials in a contemporary manner, in order to create buildings and spaces of beauty and practicality. Buildings that are ecological, energy efficient and also provide a sanctuary. We care about each detail and how it improves the design of the whole.”

Guiding principles that underpin Gregory Phillips’ own work “Whilst we strive to produce award-winning projects, the desires and needs of each client is paramount. Our ethos is to understand our client’s needs and sensitively translate these into appropriate designs. Through dialogue and attention to detail, we create contemporary, elegant and practical solutions.”

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BLYTH-COLLINSON INTERIORS CURRENT-BB-2022-DesignIcons.indd 94 24/10/2022 15:47
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lyth-Collinson Interiors is a London-based boutique interior design consultancy whose creative director, Saskia Blyth was raised in Austria and studied Design in Vienna and Florence.

With more than two decades of designing exclusive residences for discerning individuals under her belt, she is a seasoned professional whose projects range from a Chelsea townhouse to a hunting lodge on the Blenheim Estate, Oxfordshire; from a chic apartment overlooking the water in Monaco to a pared back artist’s studio in Notting Hill.

The Blyth-Collinson Interiors portfolio of projects includes European villas, ski chalets, private jets and yachts.

“We take pride in designing unique and inspiring spaces; our approach is lively, timeless and sophisticated., Each BlythCollinson designed home reflects the client’s individual tastes and passions, while at the same time embracing unique architectural features and maximising space and light.“

Iconic design is not a concept that’s straightforward to articulate. Here is Saskia Blyth’s definition:

“Fluidity of thought is core. A designer who is widely informed by their experiences, travels, childhood memories and senses can channel aspects of these elements through to a space. Creating a unique design comes down to the sum being greater than its separate parts, resulting in a cohesive symphony of components. Allowingforimprovisationandlettinginstinctguidedesignchoices results in a more natural and creative outcome.  As a writer may draw upon stream-of-consciousness techniques to create a fluid narrative, so too a designer, who allows for improvisation and instinct, will achieve a more natural flow and creative outcome.”


Blyth-Collinson Interiors undertook the complete transformation of this neglected grade II listed home in Oxfordshire. The brief was simple and provided us with a lot of freedom - inject a boost of energy into this tired home. Specialist paint techniques were employed in every room with varying degrees of colour and warmth enabling each room to tell its own story whilst maintaining a sense of continuity. Sumptuous soft furnishings paired with impressive art and sculpture invigorated this lovely home with flair and a certain sophisticated, bohemian aesthetic. The end result is both stimulating and surprising – a successful blend of artistic influences and Saskia’s own style is evident in this truly unique, gracious country residence.

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“Overthinking simply leads to second guessing and inhibits my instinct.”

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The guiding principle that underpins her own work is not to overthink it.

“Overthinking simply leads to second guessing and inhibits my instinct. I instinctively know when an element of a scheme is right and I’ve learned to trust it.

I refuse to be dictated to by current trends in interior design. Growing up in Europe I was surrounded by classic elegance on every level, which has informed my aesthetic. I like to create homes that reflect their owners’ background, incorporating much loved art, meaningful furniture and collections: spaces that put these special pieces in relief.

I never embark on a new project with a pre-conceived set of ideas in mind. I prefer to listen to the client and what is important to them, and interpret this into an ambiance that is uniquely personal to them yet transcends the ordinary.”


A beautiful penthouse flat in Notting Hill which was completely transformed into a unique and beautiful home that can pivot from a tranquil refuge to a great entertaining space. Our client has a keen distinct aesthetic and style that we revelled in exploring and emphasising in this beautiful space in London. Where four straight walls initially existed we underwent a fearless renovation to create an intricate and elegant space. This project required us to veer away from our usual style of design but we thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and we are very proud of the end result.

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This beautiful London residence is ideal for entertaining. In creating impressive entertainment rooms that were both bold and elegant it was important the house remained refined and practical for a young family. With a background in fashion, the clients specified a combination of modern comforts with the feel of a long-lived-in family home. Colour and character are at the core of this beautiful Grade II listed home. The use of colour is brave, however the overall classic tone of the home lends to an overwhelming sense of harmony and balance, creating a calm oasis for their family in the centre of busy London.

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Azaz Architects is a Riyadh, Saudi Arabia based awardwinning practice founded in 2017 by Shahad Alazzaz, the firm’s principal designer. Having worked for a number of years in Europe, she set up her own studio, bringing a new philosophy to the national space and to an international clientele. The firm has evolved to offer the full range of services, from concept to furniture design and art installations, and today its projects span the residential, multi-use and commercial spectrum.

“Our core service remains architectural design, but we are equally passionate about the other design disciplines we offer. We have been extremely lucky to have worked on several unique projects that are recognized internationally. We are proudly putting the Saudi design scene on the global map.”

“Wearealsoverypassionateaboutdesigningpublicartinstallations. It allows us to offer inclusive designs. We welcome collaboration opportunities that enable us to interact with the general public. Our installation, SA’AF, during the 2019 Dubai Design Week allowed us to work with local artisans and support their craft.”

Azaz Architects’ client base is diverse, subscribing to a broadly international contemporary aesthetic, but also incorporating cultural elements particular to the area.

“We believe we have a certain design language/aesthetic that we are known for and our clients seek. Nonetheless, we are always open to hearing our client’s preferences and love to be challenged. We are very sensitive when it comes to elements of culture/heritage. We have worked on projects where clients were keen to include a certain design typology native to an area, like Najdi architecture, or even native to a particular era.


A modern day Bofia – A traditional canteen style cafeteria serving local street food. The space was imagined as a white tiled cloud, airy and light, with a strike of light traveling through the thunder.

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Our project, Villa M, which is currently under construction is one where clients wanted us to create a modern dwelling with some deco elements. Villa M is a modern linear mass but with a unique façade design that hints at the past through the arched windows.”

Azaz definition of “iconic” design:

“Iconic design is one that sends exponential shockwaves and engenders a movement of its own. Our design for Elixir Bunn, Deco Temple, is one we are very proud of. We can definitely see other spaces featuring similar to our design elements, whether the spiral staircase or the overreaching arches and the combination of modern and historical finishing materials.”

Azaz Architecture guiding principles:

“The design we create has to be first and foremost breath-taking. We are not into creating average experiences but rather, something new and unique.”

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ABOVE: THE TILTED DWELLING A family home that offers a unique outdoor experience while protecting the privacy of the residents.


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Sinclair Building Architecture Design (SIN-BAD) is a multifaceted, multi-disciplinary design-build firm, founded in 2017 by Rob Sinclair, after 20 years of experience working in Aspen, Colorado.

Rob Sinclair is personally involved in every project from concept to completion.

“‘From Inspiration to Installation’ is a tagline I use to describe the firm because it underscores my commitment to seeing every project through to perfection and beyond.  The best method to achieve such an outcome is maintaining control and responsibility over the entire process, guiding owners each step of the way. For this reason, we started building our own projects 5 years ago by opening a design-build arm of the firm.”

The company offers a full service experience from concept and design to execution and build, including residential and commercial projects. SIN-BAD is international in its reach and is a multi-awardwinning brand in its own right.

Acting as both architects and contractors, SIN-BAD is a one-stop solution for clients from Manhattan to Malibu and maintains committed partnerships with best-in-class artisans and tradesmen

“SIN-BAD’s brand can be defined with a single word: bespoke, encapsulating the personalized, one-of-a-kind curated style that I strive to create for clients. Every custom project receives the same attention and care from my team and me, and our portfolio reflects this bespoke customization.”

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Aesthetics evolve over time and what is contemporary and relevant today may or may not become a classic tomorrow. Sinclair defines the iconic style as:

“Iconic design is, of course, one that withstands the test of time. Decades pass and trends change but iconic, thoughtful design remains ever-impactful.”

Rob Sinclair’s guiding principles

“Keen attention to scale, proportion, materiality, and texture allows me to translate formal design language and relevant historical context into lasting, contemporary designs, with spaces that feel subtly “right”, without ever being over the top. My clients are the ultimate net beneficiaries of my approach and drive to creating timeless, iconic buildings.”

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Charlie FERRER founded his eponymous NYC design studio in 2012, first as a design gallery.

While still dealing in vintage furniture and lighting, its primary focus today is on curating high end residential interiors in the context of “living amongst collectible pieces”. His clients are international and projects include homes in Los Angeles, Palm Beach, The Hamptons, Greenwich, CT, New York City and London.

FERRER’s approach is holistic. He draws upon a range of historical precedents to create environments that balance eclecticism, comfort and beauty. His philosophy, underpinned by collectible vintage design at its crux, is to combine richness of texture, timelessness and restraint expressed through organic lines.

“Whether it’s interiors, architecture or furniture, we believe that successful design is the result of a customized, intelligent and collaborative process between materials, art, light, colour, etc.”

The use of historical context remains at the heart of everything and pieces are selected for their comfort, integrity and uniqueness, as well as the intangible qualities of age.

Charlie’s personal relationships with artists and craftsmen informs the choice of contemporary furniture and lighting. Clients’ existing art collections will often serve as a point of reference for curating a selection of both vintage and custom furniture.


For a sprawling Fifth Avenue apartment with interiors, previously completed by Julie Hillman, FERRER layered the existing work with a warmer and less formal approach to create a harmonious balance between vintage and contemporary design. This included re-distributing the owners’ art collection, purchasing new pieces, refinishing existing furniture and shifting the palette to more tonal and inviting.


This was a full scope architectural and interior design project in Palm Beach imagined from top to bottom by FERRER. The architectural direction was forged through blending contemporary and Georgian design motifs, for its being both optimistic and timeless. Furniture is primarily of French and Italian origin spanning nearly every decade of the 20th century.

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For a pair of young first-time homeowners in The Hamptons, FERRER used the geography and existing architecture of the home to inspire the hues and finishes of the decorative work. This includes painted wood floors in the kitchen, a generous amount of colour in every room, and sturdy pieces of furniture that will sustain decades of living and use. The palette is rich and saturated without straying from natural hues that can be found in the charming oceanside villages landscape.


For a young client in London with an impressive and inspiring contemporary art collection that was challenging in its uniqueness, FERRER took the opportunity to design a daring flat. Pieces from the Paris flea market contributed to a bohemian, mid-century European story for the flat. The dining area has a Gino Sarfatti chandelier above a Guillerme et Chambron wooden table surrounded by Eames chairs. A custom-made sofa upholstered in Pierre Frey boucle brings a burst of comfort and texture into the room. Part of Charlie’s process and specialty is converting clients into collectors by way of sharing his appreciation of vintage pieces and their investment value.

3. 247W12

A sprawling and airy duplex penthouse apartment in a 1920’s West Village loft building. The clients have lived there for decades, combining two units in the late ‘90’s. Just before the pandemic, FERRER was hired to make the atmosphere of the space more contemporary and cohesive. The scope included the kitchen, millwork, flooring throughout, as well as the primary bathroom and powder room. FERRER decorated throughout with vintage pieces in warm finishes and soft hues to create a truly custom and unique home. The client’s impressive art collection fit perfectly into Charlie’s signature eclectic decoration. It includes a Dubuffet painting above the main Living Area’s fireplace, several Picasso and Chagall works on paper, and a breadth of contemporary photography.

4. 555 WEA

It’s the storied past of this classic old world Upper West Side building that drew FERRER to this project in a historical redevelopment. A former school, the floor plans were reworked for modern uptown living - formal divisions among large, light-filled rooms well suited for young families who like to entertain. Newly developed apartments are seldom designed to feel so collected, curated and comfortable. Much of the vintage lighting, furniture and objects came from FERRER’s inventory. Rich textures of boucles, velvets and cashmeres complement a collection of contemporary art, also by FERRER. Everything coheres for an atmosphere that feels more like a house rather than an apartment.

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On Iconic Design

“Good design is enduring design – elegant with a clear point of view, inseparable from the quality of its execution. Design divorced from craftsmanship does not last. A comfortable space feels intuitively timeless, familiar yet current and energetic.

Jean Michel Frank’s sofa is an excellent example. It marries comfort and style in an optimal way, at home in almost any environment. This is why it is referenced and replicated so often.”

The guiding principle that underpins FERRER’s own work is “Vintagesourcing.Thisisevidentthroughoutourgalleryofferingand design projects. The process of assembling historical, sometimes heavily patinated objects and translating them into highly finished contemporary contexts is very satisfying. This process can involve introducing clients to a world of vintage design unknown to them, a broad and deep international network of dealers. I take pride in sharing access to these coveted relationships with my clients.”

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Founded in 2011 in San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo Leon, Mexico by Nato Zuazua, NZA Arquitectos is focused on pushing the boundaries of local and national trends in construction, interior and furniture design.

Grounded in scrupulous selection of natural construction materials and quality of finishing, the firm specializes in a well-defined Modern Rustic style.

“Our extensive criteria in materials selection, strict design programming and scrupulous supervision allow us to develop the most elaborate architectural projects.”

Nuevo Leon is in a mountainous part of Mexico, which presents its own challenges, not least those associated with climate change and extreme drought and further exacerbated by business and profit considerations trumping environmentally-focused design and construction.

NZAaimstoredressthisbalancebyapplyingarigorousenvironmentfriendly code of construction to all its projects.

“Balance, harmony and the conservation and application of materials in their natural state are fundamental to our practice. Contrasts and diversity of materials, textures and light are key principles underpinning our work, as is our commitment to protecting the environment.”

Definition of iconic design

“Iconic buildings stand the test of time and of all environmental imperatives – they co-exist with, and enhance the natural environment. The function, rather than the form of these built spaces takes on a primary focus.”

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CASA HERRADURA 2021, Santiago Nuevo Leon
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ARCHITECTURE JOYCE OWENS LLC CURRENT-BB-2022-DesignIcons.indd 130 24/10/2022 15:48
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Joyce Owens is the founder of the eponymous Florida-based architectural, interior architecture and interior design firm (AJO) consistently delivering exceptional projects noted for their award-winning tropical modern design and immaculately tailored interiors across the USA Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the UK and Italy.

In 2022, the AIA Florida (American Institute of Architects) awarded Joyce the 2022 Gold Medal, recognizing her designs, leadership and impact as an architect. In 2020, she received the Florida Medal of Honour for Design.

Always aiming to improve the relationship between nature and buildings, AJO focuses on Coastal Island Homes and community projects, with an emphasis on designing spaces and places that are both environmentally sensitive and culturally appropriate for their place.”

VILLA CAPTIVA (Preceding page) Exterior entry of Villa Captiva. Example of Tropical Modern. Large overhangs protect large glazed openings from direct sunlight and shelter the front door from torrential rains. Numerous balconies increase the perception of floor space from inside to out.
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Photos: Josh Fisher

“Tropical Modern” focuses, as the name suggests, on designing coastal properties and Joyce Owens is considered today as one of the preeminent authorities in the field.

“Coastal properties are built in harsh environments and the expertise comes through time and experience. Understanding what works and what lasts and equally importantly, what doesn’t work long term, is critical when designing high end buildings that are expected to look amazing and stand the test of time.”

“InSouth Floridainparticularwe also needtodealwithhighhumidity and hurricanes and now flooding. All are critically important to consider from inception, as are endless environmental permits, a job that’s not for the faint-hearted. Above all, projects need to reflect clients’ needs and lifestyle, while quietly incorporating all of this expertise so that they don’t need to worry or even notice the inherent difficulties associated with coastal design.”

VILLA CAPTIVA (Facing page and above) Cross ventilation, light and air flow back and forth so easily because doors and windows are strategically placed to maximize views, increase daylight, encourage the flow of inside to outside.
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Photos: Josh Fisher


A unique beach front wood framed house that began its life in 1971 as the brainchild of renowned architect Charles W. Moore was respected and revived into an island modern masterpiece. The clients bought this beach front courtyard style house with the intention of renovating the property. In a day when so many older houses are torn down, their intention was to save this classic. The light, space, and materials were of utmost importance in this renovation. The original design was very conscious of light and space. AJO altered some of the layout but was done so by expanding on the original concepts and modernizing the living spaces inside and adding new spaces outdoors.

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Photo: Dan Cutrona


Most of the exposed wood framed ceiling was left exposed and painted white. The 48-year-old wood structural envelope was reinforced throughout to create a more resilient enclosure intended to stand tall for many years to come. All the doors and windows were replaced, and many of the doors were made taller where possible to create better views to the Gulf of Mexico. The new material palette was kept simple: concrete tile for the floors, white painted walls and cabinetry, and tile accents in the kitchen and baths. The natural wood incorporated throughout came from a walnut tree fallen and milled on the client’s property in the northeastern US.

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Photos: Dan

Joyce Owens is a strong advocate of learning from vernacular architecture from a longevity and energy conservation perspective, the latter fast becoming a primary consideration to both coastal and non-coastal living.


When the owners purchased a heavily wooded 5-acre lot in Naples they had a vision: a sustainable cabin in the woods with a modern aesthetic. The home designed by AJO lies low and quiet with elongated planes that reach into the landscape. Modern Cabin settles in and embraces the natural environment, creating a real sense of place.

The idea of referencing vernacular buildings is universally incorporated into an architect’s training. Unfortunately, many clients don’t weigh the benefits of, and invest in the future of their buildings. They build for the moment and for fast profit.”

“However, climate change is making everyone more sensitive to these matters and giving architects the opportunity to become educators and to shine. It is critically important to

Photo: Josh Fisher
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understand regional vernacular architecture wherever you design and build. My motto is “look to the past to learn for the future”.”

Definition of iconic design and guiding principles

“Inarchitecture,trueiconic designisrare. It mustbeuncompromisingly representative of building type that exhibits distinctive excellence.  It must be ground-breaking, unique and influential, and MUST serve the needs of the client, the climate and its place.

I always “look to the past to learn for the future” and try to thoroughly understand and appreciate the site, the climate, the context where I am designing. And, I demand excellence of myself and my team.”


The owners envisioned a home that provided an extreme level of sustainability. A variety of passive and energy efficient mechanical systems, as well as considered sustainable materials are integral to the project design. Insulated Concrete Form [ICF] walls and pre-cast hollow-core concrete planks help create an enduring structure. Extended overhangs and clerestory windows provide ample protection from the Florida sunshine, reducing heat gain while managing the indirect natural light and exploiting the simple grandeur of the local climate and magnificent wooded site.

Photo: Josh Fisher
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Alexander Waterworth established the eponymous interior architecture firm in 2010. Based in London, the award-winning practice works with an international clientele, providing a fully comprehensive and personalised service to private clients as well as to the hospitality industry, to theatres and clubs.

“Design excellence is the relationship between aesthetics and functionality. Neither should be compromised; both should be working in harmony, complementing and enhancing the other, collectively delivering a beautiful experience.”

The Alexander Waterworth interiors are effortlessly elegant but not defined by any particular style – rather, “it is more of an approach, an understanding of the space and the experience we are looking to create”.

The process is tailored in order to curate clear design narratives which in turn allow the creative process to unfold.

“Ourmainaimisthatourspacesprovideasenseofelevatedbelonging, irrespectiveofthelocation.Ourclientsappreciatethewayweapproach eachprojectandtheawarenessweapplytonotonlyourdesigns,but to other connected elements that also form part of the experience. We strive to ensure each space has a personalised feel capturing the identity of the individual, our client.”

The very distinctive Alexander Waterworth Décor range is customised to each brief.

“Each piece is carefully developed in conjunction with the environment and the experience we are aiming for. I consider these pieces to be the soul of our spaces, because one interacts with them subconsciously, informing how we feel and use the space we occupy. We select manufacturers that are strategically placed to the project. Working globally, we have formed great partnerships with a range of suppliers who share the same passion as we do. Care and consideration, passion and consistency in execution are key attributes.”

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A ‘Love Letter to Louisiana’, Inspired by the Mississippi river, local culture and cuisine, this signature restaurant pays tribute to New Orleans’ grand dining, showcasing a spirited take on local dishes.
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THE LANE, THEATRE ROYAL DRURY LANE, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM A full-on experience of the West End, this is an all-day destination for art, afternoon tea and entertainment.


A coastal restaurant, inspired by Mexican culture and set within a lush garden landscape. The inviting cabanas offer an intimate experience enriched by unique interior textures.


Inspired by the Amalfi coast, this is an elegant restaurant punctuated by soft lighting and furniture, and a range of spaces to experience traditional Italian food that doesn’t always follow conventional rules


Situated in the Lower East Side, this is a Michelin starred restaurant with a rustic charm, a warm tonal palette and materials.

Iconic Design

“Designmustbetimelessinordertobecomeiconic-aconceptthat’s extremely challenging in today’s world of fast-changing trends. For me anything “iconic” is not necessarily loved by all, but it’s certainly appreciated, creating conversation and strong opinions rather than being dictated by trends.”

“Our own design principles are based on defining both the narrative and experience – absence of definition creates an endless hole of uncontrolled creative solutions with little scope for growth.”

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The luxurious 3000m2 modern palace is poised to be in the heart of the city of Jeddah. The majestic entrances are accessible by an Italian style pathway surrounded by cypress trees leading to a roundabout drop off area with a central fountain.

Co-founded by Architects  Joy Alexandre Harb and  Yanna Haddad,JYHInternationalArchitects(JYH) offersarchitectural, interior, engineering and design services throughout the Middle East and Europe.

JYH creates unique spaces across the residential, educational, commercial, resort and urban planning sectors.

“From land planning and large-scale projects to exhibition stands and everything in between, our work stands out for the quality of its finishing.”

“We have a passion for innovation-oriented architecture and the imagination to shape the future of cities.”

JYH-IA has a multi-national team coming from Lebanon, Japan, Czech Republic and Spain whose diverse cultural backgrounds add different and complementary views and perspectives to each project.

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“While we all have a general knowledge of architecture fundamentals, we individually excel in certain software that adds a personal touch to projects. Managing challenging tasks with our combined professional skills achieves the optimum outcome for the client.”

The projects evolve from a carefully thought through analysis, conceptualization, programming and detailed drawings, each phase being agreed with the client before proceeding to the next one. The project is then represented in the booklet containing 2D detailed architectural drawings, with the mechanical, electrical and structural study, as well as the 3D perspectives that reflect the final result of construction.

“Our approach is based on the use of advanced technologies, adapting space to the desired functionality. We focus on exploring the effect of this technology in our daily life and how it helps reshape contemporary architecture.”


Luxury and utility seem mutually exclusive when it comes to design, but those two things were exactly what a business tycoon was looking for when he purchased the apartments in the heart of Beirut city

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Located on the highest mountain of Qanat Bakich in Lebanon, Villa Olympea embodies beauty and sophistication. Embedded within the topography, the composition is formed of 2 L-shaped structures interacting on the ground floor, creating an internal green patio that can be visible from anywhere in the house.


The shape of the building is inspired from a children’s scribbling when asked to draw a house. The primitive shape was remodeled according to the client’s needs and the rules and regulations of the city of Faraya in the mountains of Lebanon.


Located on a rich-in-nature mountain, which is also part of a ski resort, villa Attie offers a 180 degree view of the city. The design strategy was to use the sloped land to create an accessibility to the house from two sides; the upper road and the road below.

Iconic Design Definition:

“What defines an iconic design today is its recognition, its memorability and its sharing among people from different cultures and backgrounds. A design that makes people react, like and comment; that creates a debate. A design that is being studied or given as an example in architecture, engineering or art universities. A design that one day becomes a symbol.“

“Architecture is not a matter of understanding, it’s a matter of feeling” – Joy Alexandre Harb

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First published in 2022 by BBEYOND BOOKS © BBeyond 2022
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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book. ISBN 978-1-905904-82-2 Designed by Cover illustration by Supriya Sahai ISBN 978-1-905904-82-2
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