Cover image: Kitchen Island with automatic sliding top in polished eucalyptus with antique brass metal detail. Worktop in porcelain ceramic with integrated sink and induction hob. A beautiful piece of furniture which can also be used as a fully functional bar â€” open. Above: Kitchen Island â€” closed.
I am delighted to once again welcome you to INTERIOR-iD’s Journal. Having received such an amazing response to Journal 1 we have again delved into our world of bespoke joinery and the cast of players that are involved in bringing complex projects to fruition for your entertainment and information. We have enjoyed an extremely exciting year here at INTERIOR-iD dealing with many prestigious clients from Interior Designers, Architects, Construction Professions and Developers who have wanted to be innovative, utilise intricate design and value bespoke craftsmanship. I am thrilled that we have three extremely experienced and talented people who have agreed to tell their stories for this edition, the ever eclectic Martin Kemp of Martin Kemp Design, the fascinating story of Nicholas Tye’s journey into Architecture and Giles Green of ICON’s vision of building transformation. Our dream has always been to continue to push into the international field and we are now privileged to be involved in projects in Monaco, Lagos Africa, Rio Brazil and Cyprus. One of these projects you will be able to read about as you enjoy Journal 2. We have also seen INTERIOR-iD move into a new larger stylish studio, whilst remaining in Notting Hill, the story of which you will see on pages 28-31. We would more than welcome a visit from you to view our new environment and sight our sample library to personally experience some of the new state-of-the-art materials we now have the ability to incorporate into our work. Journal 2 will continue to give you an insight into the culture, passion and craftsman of INTERIOR-iD. If you can imagine it — We can build it.
Bernd Radaschitz Director, INTERIOR-iD
Martin Kemp Nicolas Tye Case study — One Hyde Park Icon Behind the scenes Material Library Robert Windsor
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LIFESTYLE DESIGNER PROFILE —
As dawn broke just over two years ago, an exquisitely beautiful five-storey, Georgian townhouse in Mayfair caught fire. This was no ordinary house, but then there are very few ordinary houses in super prime Mayfair. It had recently been totally refurbished and was filled with Renoirs, Henry Moore sculptures and Dali prints, all set in grand rooms of dramatic scale and style. An hour or so later, several miles away on the other side of London, a mobile phone buzzed on the bedside table of the man responsible for the refurbishment: the eminent lifestyle designer Martin Kemp. At the other end of the telephone was the distraught owner. The conversation went something like this, “please come, please come. I’m so devastated. I need you to come and pull the artworks out for me from the fire. You know what’s valuable. No-one else does”. So, at 9am Martin Kemp found himself being kitted out by the London Fire Brigade, listening to a strict briefing accompanied by the words, “you don’t have to do this.” Standing outside the burning building, he assessed the situation and decided as he tells the story, “it wasn’t actually a raging fire bursting through the windows, it was only the top two floors that were ablaze, so after discussion with the professionals, I decided to ignore those floors and concentrate on the rest of the house.”
Founder and Director of Martin Kemp Design.
Artlessly, he says, “I went in with the firemen and began to select what was to be saved, before the water used to douse the fire destroyed the rest of the house. It was exactly like that, ‘forget this, ignore that, but make sure you save the Henry Moore’s, the Dali’s and the Ming. As in so many projects I have designed not only the house but filled it with everything from toothbrushes to Renoirs. I was the only one with the knowledge of what was irreplaceable and what could be ignored. Looking back it was foolish,” he concedes with a rueful laugh. “And it was not the ideal way to start a new business founded on the misfortune and bad luck of a Client,” he admits, “but truthfully that was my first project. What a way to start” Before setting off to interview Martin I was slightly bewildered about the role or function of a lifestyle designer. Interior designer and interior architect: both are self-explanatory. But what else is required in the completion of a building and interior design project. Even he admits that’s its very difficult to convey what he does. “The fundamental difference is that I do everything. I create the concept, the blueprint for a client’s lifestyle and I implement it in its totality. I always say to people when you go home, put your key in the front door, go in and imagine you haven’t had to buy one single thing in that house, apart from perhaps your clothing.
By Gail Rolfe 06
“In the past I have bought underwear, cologne, books, art, Warhol’s, vintage cars, the entire contents of a kitchen, (including food) as well as the sofas, beds, curtains, bath towels and mirrors. You see, the people I work for don’t generally shop, not like we shop. “I give them the option. I say to them do you want a ‘turnkey’ solution? If the answer is yes, we will put a list together room by room, of what is required. We suggest in the master suite you may need this, like that and must have one of these; in the staff bedroom you need this and that etc. We do this for every single room in the house. “In the wine store the questions start very simply, ‘how many bottle openers do you need? If they are not bringing a wine collection, I put them in touch with a sommelier that will take them to the right vineyards and they'll buy wine perhaps worth £2million. Whatever people want, we do it. It’s an unlimited lifestyle service.” “So, how do you get a feel for each client?” I ask. “Simple,” is his reply. “I spend time with them. Usually, if I like someone, and they like me, they will call me up and say, ‘come over for dinner, come out to the boat, come to a party or let’s go to the races.’ It’s, of course, usually fun. I sit with them in their homes and occasionally on their private planes talking and experiencing their lifestyle. Next month, for example, I am away sailing with a Client for ten days – it becomes more of a friendship really.” “Perhaps the difference is that I treat people as I wish to be treated - in a very ordinary way. They may well be a Hollywood A-lister, an international playboy or head of a global conglomerate, but I behave as though they are just the girl or boy next door – albeit with great respect. I’m certainly not dismissive of what they have achieved, but I don’t allow their wealth or importance to 08
overwhelm either the brief or our relationship. I’m not impressed by money or status but I am impressed by how people behave. I respect wealth and realised many years ago that my Clients appreciate that in me. They relax, I relax and we have a nice day. It’s not about drinking Krug on a private aeroplane and being aloof or unapproachable. It’s about understanding people, their personality and getting to the very heart of their needs,” he concludes. He makes it all sound so delightfully, effortlessly simple, but to discern, envisage, then fulfil the Client's vision requires an extraordinary gift or talent, as well as a significant degree of patience. Still sounding refreshingly surprised at his success he continues, “The brief for a project often comes direct from me. Clients might ask, ‘should I have a 6-bedroom house, a 9-bedroom house or a 25-bedroom house? What will fit my lifestyle, what works with the space I’ve got, you tell me’, because at this juncture I know them and their life so well it becomes a relatively straightforward design process. “So we create a brief, send it through and usually they say fine. We produce mood boards, 40, 50 or 100 boards, depending on the size and scale of project. We provide options, create floor plans and they make a selection, listing what they do and don't like. This initial exhaustive and intensive concept stage acts as a filtering process, which can take 6-9 months. Once the design and build decisions are finalised, then we are free to concentrate on the meticulous details that encompass the lifestyle design,” he explains. That dedication and commitment to delivering the ultimate in perfection forged a natural link between Martin Kemp and Bernd Radaschitz of INTERIOR-iD. Strategically, both companies share a similar work ethic, comparable Clientele, discreet company profile and,
more importantly, both work comfortably within the super prime luxury market. “Bernd and I used to always see each other at parties and events and eventually we were introduced, Martin laughingly admits, “I invited him into Candy & Candy while I was Creative Director but if you ask Bernd he will probably laugh and say he was one of those who were rebuffed. Now we are good friends as well as business colleagues. “Four or five years ago, I trialled INTERIOR-iD on a project. I commissioned Bernd to create a Butler’s kitchen that harmonised with the main Bulthaup kitchen. He did it extremely well. When I work with a joinery company, or any company, for the first time I prefer to trial them on something simple and check that everything is perfect. It’s how I test quality; it’s risk averse that way. “Clients at the super prime level are naturally perfectionists and if something was not impeccable it would be sent back. On another occasion I trialled him on a Client’s master bedroom suite wardrobes. Again he delivered and met expectations. The Client was thrilled. He also made some freestanding furniture in another project that was very impressive. “So I quickly realised that INTERIOR-iD should actually be raised up a notch in our perception. So, having gone, in my opinion, from third bedroom wardrobe in a three bedroom flat in Chelsea, now they were considered skilful enough to build the master bedroom wardrobes and the cabinetry to all the other prime rooms in Monaco. They can still do the Chelsea ‘look’, but Bernd has proved that they can do both. “I am always impressed by their quality and approach; their dedication to keeping to schedule; plus they are very proactive rather than reactive. Essentially, I like them as people. They are discreet, diplomatic, discerning and attentive. But above all, the quality of what they deliver is right. At this moment they are building two marketing suites for our prestigious luxury developments in Mayfair,
one at 77 South Audley Street and the other on Clarges Street. We are also looking to commission them to work on two forthcoming projects." For a company that was established only a little more than two years ago Martin Kemp Design has already accrued an extensive catalogue of global achievements – and continues to impress with his discretion. Thirty-two projects have either gone, or are in the process of going through the business including fourteen large private homes, two private jets, two super yachts and three large developments – and all are international from London to New York, Mumbai to Hong Kong, Italy to Monaco. Perhaps, somewhat surprisingly, considering his success, Martin is discreet, private, unassuming and unpretentious, with perfect manners, not what one might expect of a man who moves seamlessly among the world’s high net worth individuals. With remarkable candour he says, “For me it’s not about the money. I know that sounds flippant, but I want to get up and go to work in the morning to have a nice day. If being paid a lot of money and having a bad day is what it takes, then I’m not interested. I would rather be spoken about and respected as a decent man, who is kind and honest, paid an appropriate sum and enjoy my day. Obviously I need to earn money, most of us do, but I value the experience of working with good people far more. “Being polite and pleasant comes easily to me. It’s an innate quality thanks to my family. I was, and am, very blessed with my parents, a lot more than many people. They imbued me with a very refined set of proprietary values. I don’t raise my voice, I’m never knowingly rude, however much someone may deserve it or have irked me. I don't lose my temper. I believe staying calm and quiet; being diplomatic and sincere is actually more powerful. I learnt ages ago that going into battle with a serene smile on your face is far more
effective than the opposite, but then I don’t have any battles thank heavens. “I hopefully instil my staff with the same principles, because above all I want my business to be perceived as THE one to come to, not just for impeccable design work, but also for a gratifying experience with honourable and courteous people”. Martin Kemp was born in Wales. His father was a Merchant Sea Captain and eventually an Urban Planner; his late mother a Portrait Artist. “Growing up I was not wayward, but I was a daydreamer and a fantasist. But I was lucky that I came from a creative family. “My mother packed me off to art college in Wales, thank goodness. Bless her! I wouldn’t be here without her. She made the phone call. She told me I was going. Obviously, I had to pass the interview, but there wouldn’t have been an interview without her. So, that’s where it began. Studies in Fine and Decorative Arts, took him to Strasbourg for a year, whereupon London called. “After college I came straight to the Capital; wrote lots of letters to design companies and eventually got my first proper job, but I was only there for six months before being made redundant”, he admits with good natured humour. “Next I joined Imagination, where I was creating exhibition work, designing road shows. It sounds a bit dull now but for a fresh graduate it was a stimulating and a very positive experience. “Subsequently I worked for several companies in a short space of time, which was seen as a negative by my friends and my parents. Yet conversely I was
becoming happier, more settled, my personal finances were in better shape and the work had improved in terms of design and quality. But even though I was reasonably content I still didn’t feel I truly belonged in London. My intention was always to live and work in Los Angeles; so off went all the resumes to various businesses in Los Angeles, but I was unsuccessful. I’m a bit of a fatalist. I just accepted that the timing was not right,” he says with a rueful smile. “A while later in 2000 I visited a couple of recruitment agencies in LA on another vacation, and voila, within two weeks had a job with the internationally renowned interior designer Barbara Barry.” This resulted in exposure to a Hollywood and Beverly Hills Clientele and something ignited. Reviewing those early years, Martin’s life and career trajectory was fairly predictable and conventional: art college, followed by several design jobs in London, succeeded by a switch of continent to Los Angeles working for a well know designer. But in quick succession a series of uncanny coincidences occurred that were to change his life. He tells the story thus, “I don’t read newspapers, haven’t read them for a long time. I find them soul destroying, you wouldn't get out of bed in the morning if you read too many. But one Sunday in 2003 I was feeling nostalgic for home, reminiscing about my mother and father and thought, you know what, I’ll buy the Daily Telegraph. In the colour supplement there was an article
about several new and interesting interior designers and Nick and Chris Candy were in the middle of the 5 or 6 page feature. That was coincidence number one. “Equally, I wasn’t a great watcher of American TV, but no more than two weeks later, I turned on the television and what should come up but a channel called HGTV, (House Garden TV) and there was Nick Candy being interviewed. It was bizarre. That was coincidence number two. “The defining moment came in the middle of the night when my mobile phone rang and it was Candy & Candy’s HR head-hunter. I remember clearly sitting bolt upright in bed, absolutely speechless. When I managed to tell her the string of coincidences, she replied ‘that's absolutely extraordinary, you have to come and see us.’ By chance I was going home for a wedding, so I went to see them the following week. “I had three interviews in two days and was appointed as senior designer, quickly becoming Creative Director. In reality, the change of title was virtually meaningless, my role stayed the same, but it was good for the company and ultimately good for me.” “From the very beginning the agreement with Nick and Chris was that they would send me back to Los Angeles when they opened an office there, to be the Creative Director. It took two years before that became a reality, and then I spent the next couple of years toing and froing between London and Beverly Hills, loving every minute of it.
“I worked for Candy & Candy for eight years. In that time the business flourished and prospered beyond imagination. Along the way the business expanded to 125 people, then shrank back down to about 80 during 2008 as a result of the recession. “I realised that the completion of One Hyde Park was an appropriate time to leave. It’s never a good time to leave, you’re always in the middle of something, but I knew I was drained. When you love your job you are happy to work 14/15/16 hours a day, but sadly there came a time when I felt disconnected. If you can no longer engage your heart and soul, it’s time to move on. One day I simply decided that Candy & Candy was no longer part of my plans for the future. “Weirdly,” he admits, “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. A while back a Client, had said, ‘you ought to have your own business’. That was the first time anyone had ever suggested it. They sowed a seed in my mind and one day I thought OK. “So, I took six months off, enjoyed myself, travelled, caught up with lots of people, splashed a little bit of money on myself and had fun. Returning to London, I said OK, I’m going to establish Martin Kemp Design. And that’s what I did. I had no staff, no funds, nothing. My parents had given me some money, not a huge amount, but it was enough to get things started, to get a logo designed and registered. Then, the fire happened, and the rest is history.”
Right and below: Nicolas Tye, Long Barn Studio, Maulden, Bedfordshire.
ARCHITECT PROFILE —
NICOLAS TYE By Gail Rolfe
Interior Photograph — Philip Bier
Exterior Photograph — Nerida Howard.
Nicolas Tye, 44 is the founder and director of Nicolas Tye Architects, a multi-award winning practice based in Bedfordshire. The studio works on projects both in the United Kingdom and internationally. Had you always wished to be an architect? No definitely not. I had no aspirations of being an architect at all. My father was an architect who worked in the 1960’s with the eminent Danish architect Arnie Jacobsen on buildings like the world-famous Grade I listed St Catherine’s College at Oxford University. From an early age I was determined to do something else. Yet, despite my initial rebellion, I reluctantly found myself pursuing an architectural education. I was appalling at it and failed my degree three times. At that juncture I realised I was probably not destined to be an architect. But fate had other plans. Extraordinarily, in my mid-twenties I discovered I was good at designing and I realised it might after all be the right path for me. Looking back there are plenty of photographs of me running around in the foundations of building sites with my father. I loved digging and building, so that must have been ingrained from an early age. What is your architectural background? Initially, the pattern of failing continued after university. I applied for many jobs, but nobody would employ me. Eventually, my father insisted I went to see his friend Ken Shuttleworth, who at the time was working at the esteemed practice of Foster + Partners. Hardly surprisingly, even he said, ‘I can’t give you a job because you are basically hopeless’ but there was a kindly caveat when he finished the conversation with the words, ‘If you come back with 12 months experience I might give you a job’.
This is the moment where destiny, a lucky fluke and good fortune played an enormous role in my future. Fortuitously, I eventually got a job by accident! ORMS, an architectural practice based in Clerkenwell were supposed to interview someone else on the same day as me; they interviewed me; sent out the job offer letter to me by accident; then sent a letter confirming my employment. I could literally see their jaws drop when I arrived to start work the following Monday. It may not have been the most auspicious start to a career but I stayed there for almost four years and fortunately, they didn't regret it. Years later Ken came to visit me at my studio and remembered he hadn’t given me a job but admitted that my career had progressed and taken me in the right direction. I think at that point he would have been quite happy for me to join him at Foster + Partners, but I had taken the decision to set up my own business. How long ago did you establish Nicolas Tye? Once again, the inception of Nicolas Tye Architects came about thanks to fate combined with someone else’s bad luck. I was still working quite happily for ORMS when the Maulden barn in Bedfordshire came up for sale. It was derelict and had been used for the last 150 years as a grain store, but I could see it provided a remarkable architectural opportunity. I had just finished converting an old shoe factory in London into my apartment, doing the majority of the work myself.
But the temptation of the barn was too strong. I bought it, appointed builders, who unfortunately within a short space of time went bankrupt. I was so emotionally involved in this project that I asked ORMS for a sabbatical, on the premise that I would return in a year once the barn was completed. But, of course, I never returned and Nicolas Tye Architects was established in 2003. If that building contractor had not gone bankrupt I’m sure I would still be working at ORMS. How extensive is the team and the scale of the business? At the outset I was the sole member of staff. Within six months I needed to employ someone else. By 2006 there were nine in the team. But in 2007 the recession hit us, just like everyone else, and I had to shrink the staff to just six people. It was a dreadful time. Now, thankfully, we are back up to 15 people. Usually the practice has 70 diverse projects in hand at any given time, and each one tends to last two to three years. One team of architects and designers focuses on the residential sector where budgets begin at £100,000 on projects where we are perhaps refurbishing part of a listed building; designing and building an iconic contemporary one-off house; through to creating multiple housing unit schemes with a budget of £100million. The other team concentrates on the ancillary commercial side of the business. This is where we do a lot of community work, working on buildings like town halls, business centres or educational buildings. Although it is a very small part of the business, it fulfils an altruistic need in me to provide buildings not just for a family of individuals but also for an entire community. It is a hugely enjoyable challenge designing and building wonderful places that should be there for a long time. What residential projects are currently in development? Right now we are working on projects throughout the UK: in Kent, Devon, Wales and the Scottish borders with budgets in excess of £100,000 on construction costs. Within that remit are four or five listed building projects where we are creating very interesting additions and refurbishments overseen by English Heritage. One of my team is over in Cyprus as we are designing and constructing a vast penthouse apartment in Limassol; there is a further ultra-modern project of twelve innovative and environmentally friendly houses in the Tetra Mountains in Slovakia plus four or five minimal contemporary one-off houses in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Construction in the Caribbean is fascinating for different reasons: they still use feet and inches as a measurement; they battle hurricanes, storm surges alongside a humid climate plus they encounter all kinds of issues that we never have to consider in Europe. Working in conjunction with local and international consultants provides an interesting and different set of parameters and criteria. This international work has added an extra dimension to the business in the last few years. It’s inspiring and enthralling. How would you describe your style of architecture? Our aim as a practice is to produce buildings or design interiors that possess a timeless quality. Unlike other companies we do not have a ‘style’ that drives every project. If you take a look at the work we have done on our website, the range and diversity is immense from listed buildings to one-off contemporary family homes. We are never dictatorial and egotistical about the kind of architecture we are going to produce. It’s a symbiotic relationship between the architect and the client. At the heart of a style is an aspiration to create extraordinary spaces and buildings for our clients that are innovative yet fit for purpose. Do you have an architectural hero? I suppose, it has to be Arne Jacobsen. If you look back at his work now whether it’s the buildings he designed, his furniture or his ironmongery, he was timeless and the quality of the specification was utter perfection and simplicity. As with most Scandinavian designers he was utterly at home with nature, using natural materials mixed with light and shade and sensory perception to produce buildings in a strikingly effective way. It’s not minimalistic, like the style of John Pawson, it’s a more humanistic approach. You only have to look at the avant-garde combination of glass and concrete at St Catherine’s College, Oxford where Jacobsen married those modern materials around a traditional layout to realise his genius. He is my inspiration. What are the style aspirations of your clients? Our clients, without exception, are looking for us to lead. They tend to say, ‘this is what we love’, bringing along photographs or pages from magazines that reflect their style, but they are rarely dictatorial. What they expect is for us to take the architecture and design to a level they might not have visualised. We do it in very particular manner with initial plan ideas, followed by detailed briefs and images, alongside technical drawings that reveal the functionality. The images gradually evolve and evoke how the building and interiors might look.
Above Right: Meeting Room — Nicolas Tye Architects. Right: Cyprus Project.
The architectural commissions alternate between one-off ‘Grand Design style’ contemporary projects, which always feel fresher versus the challenges of restoring quite wonderful historic buildings. Numerically, our portfolio consists at any given time of 5% listed buildings, probably 25% refurbishing old buildings that are not listed, and the major portion concentrates on new build. How has the business developed over the years? Without doubt, the key trend dominating our industry is eco-sustainability. Twenty years ago interest in climate change, sustainability and the green movement was very low, but recently that has dramatically altered. The current impetus is to combine building construction in line with the healthiness of life. People are worrying about volatile compounds that could be in the air they breathe. The industry has developed organic paint, lacquers that are non-toxic and materials that comply with ‘green’ regulations, but it’s going to take time to take that to the next level. The innovation and advances have started and can only gain momentum over the next few years. We intend to focus on these issues and constantly evolve new perspectives so they remain an integral part of the company philosophy. That’s the next goal. How did you discover INTERIOR-iD? Whilst some of my senior team were visiting the 100% Design exhibition in 2012 they came across the INTERIOR-iD stand. They were so impressed by the quality of their work and the team that we invited them to our offices for a formal presentation. Their portfolio of previous commissions and the consummate professionalism of their operation made our two companies natural partners in the Cyprus project. The clients who were looking to buy a luxury penthouse apartment in Limassol had discovered a particular building in a perfect position on the sea front that was under concrete frame construction at the time. However, on the existing plans the apartments were too small to fulfil their vision, so they bought four apartments across the entire top floor of the building.
We had the good fortune of being asked to tender our services at the end of 2012, alongside three other architects, one of whom was the highly respected American architect, Richard Meier. Up against that level of recognition and expertise, we thought it was unlikely we would receive the commission, but we did. Ultimately, it was our international portfolio of work that won the contract. The developer retained responsibility for the core of the building, but we had totally free rein to design within the shell. The brief from the clients was five star luxury. They admired that type of level of opulence and that attention to detail. INTERIOR-iD had already been commissioned to provide a quite extraordinarily large allocation of the joinery. They have been responsible for developing the initial design concept, manufacturing and installing all the fitted joinery for the master bedroom, bathrooms, dressing Rooms and wardrobes as well as creating stunning bespoke cabinetry for the living room and the bar area which featured some specialised finishes made from liquid metal. I have learnt that the clients are extremely diligent at selecting the right people to work on their home. They seek and expect that super luxury level of quality and obviously INTERIOR-iD are an exceptionally impressive organisation. The client desired something unparalleled, the budget was relatively endless, and to have that level of finance meant everyone working on this project was allowed the right amount of time to do the job properly. In every way, INTERIOR-iD were the perfect associates for us in this venture. Although the project is in the final stages now, the client is already talking to us about further ventures: other homes they own, in addition to various commercial enterprises. Although in the very early days, my path to architectural success may have suffered minor setbacks, I am the perfect example of Winston Churchill’s mantra, ‘never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.’ It’s clear that I was destined to be an architect and follow in my father’s footsteps. I love the symmetry of our careers and success.
ONE HYDE PARK, KNIGHTSBRIDGE
case study DESIGN Grangewood Finchatton JOINERY SCOPE INTERIOR-iD Master Bedroom Guest Bedrooms Bathrooms Media Room Study Corridors Doors Mirrors
Previous: Entrance area shoe wardrobes in dark grey stained Zebrano timber with concealed LED lighting integrated within Aluminium cast artist wall panelling. Above: Sideboard in Grey Macassar, smooth closed grain finish with starburst marquetry. Internals lined in purple leather. Five metre long solid concrete shelf in natural grey concrete colour with concealed LED lighting. Right: Bedroom Headboard natural grey aged timber and embossed beige leather. Floating bedside table natural grey aged timber set in resin and polished surface. Side and drawer fronts in polished natural gold pyrite.
Below: Solid natural grey concrete shelves. Overleaf: Corridor cladded with Aluminium cast artist wall panelling.
It has been our great privilege to work with the exclusive residential building contractor Grangewood and the luxury interior design/developer Finchatton on the refurbishment of an exquisite apartment based in One Hyde Park, Knightsbridge. We facilitated the detailed technical drawings, manufacturing, full completion and installation of a multitude of elements producing innovative solutions to complex specifications. We were responsible for all joinery throughout the three bedroom apartment including the corridor areas, the floating unit within the study and White Diamond Quartzite Stone lighting in the hall area, all doors, wall
panelling and the TV unit in the Media Room. We were also delighted to be commissioned to produce bespoke mirrors for two bathrooms. The joinery uses various materials and finishes for each room from Zebrano & Grey Macassar in the wardrobes and sideboard to natural grey aged timber in the Master Bedroom. The purpose built concrete shelves in the study, the leather lattice wardrobes doors, the solid brass floating TV unit and the antique brass detailing such as the bespoke recessed handles fully integrated into framed wardrobe doors within the Master Dressing Room.
Below: Dressing Room with antique brass metal detailing, bespoke recessed handles fully integrated into framed wardrobe doors with woven leather and dark stained Zebrano timber. Right: Floating TV unit in solid brass with brushed antique and smooth waxed finish.
Left: Wardrobe in polished high-gloss lacquer with sleek antique-brass metal trims and integrated bespoke pull knobs. Internals with semi-gloss lacquer, antique brass hanging rail, concealed LED-light and fabric wall lining.
The corridor clad with Aluminium cast artist wall panelling necessitated that the joints, corners and shadow gaps line up with each timber floorboard meaning our communication and co-operation with the other professions on site was crucial in achieving the precise outcome that was achieved. This is a very minimalist styling dictating that our precision and attention to detail were, as ever, of the upmost importance. As per our vision statement: If you can imagine it â€” We can build it.
Managing Director Giles Green unveils ICON’s latest project in Chelsea: a building site in the process of being transformed into a striking contemporary house and the ethos behind their success.
By Gail Rolfe
In a quiet leafy street in Chelsea, the last thing you envisage stumbling upon, nestling among the white stucco fronted houses, is an extensive building site where not one brick remains of the 4,000sq ft. original 1960’s building. To many conservationists this may sound reprehensible, but fear not, the previous building was a tired, unfashionable house and in its place will rise, ‘phoenix-like’, a 9,000sq ft. totally unique modern home due for completion this autumn. 9,000sq ft.? You may ask how can anyone offer so much space in super prime central London? Well, the answer is ingeniously simple. These days, shrewd and resourceful architects and builders increasingly burrow down to utilise every centimetre of land available, cunningly transforming wasted underground territory into contemporary living space. Conjuring something from nothing is now the Holy Grail of property development. With my curiosity piqued and endless design possibilities whizzing around in my mind, an invitation to view this iconic home during its inception was utterly irresistible. My guide for the day was Giles Green, Managing Director of ICON, the eminent building contractor responsible for developing this architecturally demanding Chelsea home. As Giles succinctly explains, “within the super prime London market the challenge is to devise the best use of available space and explore every opportunity to create more. This is an incredibly high value project, the building costs alone are in excess of £4 million.” Consequently, on a balmy English summer’s morning, I find myself in genteel Chelsea descending a wooden ladder into the depths of a subterranean building
site. There is something quite mesmerising about seeing a house in its infancy — austere, raw and unformed: a concrete shell, awaiting the transformation from house to home. Over the next few months walls will rise, concrete will be concealed behind plaster, wires and pipes will magically become invisible, marble or limestone floors laid, wallpaper and complex paint finishes will be applied and miraculously a six bedroom house will exist where once there was only mud. On all five levels builders move swiftly from one floor to the next, an un-choreographed dance, certain of their role — focused, determined, speedy and professional. Down in the cavernous lower basement, the side wall concrete structure is already in place; water runs across the muddy floor in a relentless trickle, a lonely tributary of the nearby Thames; an immense mountain of cloggy mud that is too wet to be removed in the usual way via conveyor belt, sits waiting to be removed manually; and labourers further excavate the depths that will soon be home to a swimming pool, steam room, gym and the vital plant room. The channel for the essential five-storey lift is in place, as is the wiring for air-conditioning. Above, the upper basement is a hive of activity, wires dangling like tentacles from the ceiling, scaffolding in place, the paraphernalia of building work neatly stacked everywhere. This is where the main entrance lobby and reception room will be. The lower ground floor houses the master kitchen, butler’s kitchen, a vast open plan dining area, and two expansive seating areas. Two floors up, the master bedroom is taking shape with his
and hers en-suite bathrooms already outlined on the floor. The under-floor heating pipes concertina between the floorboards, a balcony which will run across the entire back of the house is a work in progress overlooking what will be a magical garden. Above will be three further bedrooms and bathrooms. “I don’t believe there are many companies that can deliver a scheme like this one or deliver this level of finish,” explains Giles. There are plenty of large building companies that can go in and dig, and build you a super structure tower, but few have the resources, skill set or the eye for detail to deliver the perfection required for a property of this magnitude and value. Management of building work on this scale is a cycle of problem and solution. It can be horrendous, painful, and fraught with problems. On this project, it’s been us versus nature and nature normally wins,” he adds with a touch of wry humour. “Every day you are overcoming a problem and moving swiftly on to the next one. Our objective, for a homeowner or an architectural practice, is to make that process as pain free as possible through open and honest communication. “What differentiates us as a builder? Behind ICON, our parent company comprises a large design team, plus development managers and a residential management division. That combination and access to such an in-house resource is something that few other building contractors possess. We have the ability to utilise their expertise to solve problems or dispense advice. “Currently, our other projects range from the refurbishment of a penthouse apartment in St John’s Wood, overlooking Lords cricket ground, with a build budget of £1.2million; a seven storey house in Wilton Street, Belgravia with build costs of £4.5million; and two lateral penthouse flats in Park Lane, budgeted at £5.5million. The biggest contract we have undertaken was in the region of £9.5million,” he affirms. “ICON was founded, hardly surprisingly, in 1992 by a close friend of my wife’s, Andrew Murray, when he was 21. He’d always had an interest in the building industry, and he was a fast learner. He very quickly got the business up and running but it was in 1995 when a developer asked him to look after a portfolio of properties in Mayfair, that the strategy of the business began to evolve; the main contracting side of the business became well-established in prime central London, and in the early
2000’s he began to run developments for third parties, and more recently, launched the companies own design team. I joined the business in 2005 and have watched the business expand exponentially. “The appetite for homes in super prime London is changing,” he admits. “The influential international buyer hungers after new build iconic homes and everything that comes with them. The contemporary house is tailor- made for modern life; it is truly bespoke with the luxury requirements that come as essential these days – air conditioning, under floor heating, lifts, all without the constrictions of listed buildings. “In Pond Place, for example, just behind the Theo Fennell shop on London’s Fulham Road, we demolished a1960’s commercial building and built three modern townhouses, all interior designed to the highest specification. One of the buyers, before they even set foot in the property asked us to install a lift. That desire for modern and new is driving a significant part of the construction business in super prime London.” “I believe modern builds are much harder to do well. It’s all about the sharpest lines and detail at the junctions, it’s like playing a musical instrument - easy to be average, incredibly hard to be brilliant. Refurbishments, like our project on Wilton Street, in some respects are easier, even though it is part listed. A lot of things have to be preserved – the lathe and plaster, even though you end up covering it and no-one gets to see it the heritage guys like to know it’s there. “The heads of windows slope down and the owners love all that. We could have sharpened the edges, aligned them and made it perfect, but then it would have been a modern building and lost its character. That's not what the owners bought and not what they want. Our task is to be sympathetic to what’s been there for 180 years. “Equally, those landmark houses come with a historical legacy. They are part of London’s heritage. When you approach a building like that it demands a different headset. We were building a basement under a basement in Wilton Street. It’s a terraced house so it was incredibly complex and we had to work under the most draconian and stringent controls in terms of movement. Our structural engineer said he had never seen anything this tight except under a chemical factory. “Ultimately, whether it’s refurbishing and reconstructing a listed building or designing an original
avant-garde contemporary build, our clients expect perfection. That’s why working with INTERIOR-iD is a natural partnership. I first met Bernd about eighteen months ago when they were working on a project just off the King’s Road. They were creating a kitchen there and we were talking to them about doing a kitchen for one of our projects. “By reputation the quality of the craftsmanship they do is second to none. They've got superb facilities in Austria and what we have seen of their work so far is incredibly accomplished and faultless. Not only are we working with them in the Chelsea new build where they are delivering key joinery to all the principal areas: the principal kitchen and the ground floor reception, the cloakroom, the bath and dressing room and master bedroom, but we are also working with them in St John’s Wood. What constitutes the difference is those significant signs about the quality. We can all design and pick the right veneer, but it’s the exquisite detailing. They bring that skill set, the draughtsmanship and sublime level of perfection so we have complete confidence in what they deliver. They are not the cheapest, but you would end up paying twice if things go wrong. That's something we look at in all aspects of our build and the people we take on. Using the cheapest can be a bad shortcut; it will cost you in the long run. We are undeniably confident in what they can achieve for us.” “At the moment this is a very new relationship for us, but hopefully, their business and ours will continue to grow and diversify in tandem.”
Right: White semi-gloss room divider with glass window. Sleek dark smoked oak timber with an matt and rough cut finish.
Behind the scenes We have just completed our exciting move into a new larger stylist studio, whilst still remaining in Notting Hill. This involved a refurbishment project to bring our workspace and meeting room, with amazing sample library, up to our specification and you will see the journey we took to create the ultimate working environment overleafâ€Ś
1. Removal of walls to open up the space. Light well visible. American walnut floor refinished. 2. Installation of workstation area. Bespoke desks. Semi-gloss base with a white linoleum top and sleek dark smoked oak edges to repeat the details. Desk division with green acoustic fabric and rail for bespoke screen solution.
3. Meeting room with integrated sample library White semi-gloss in combination with sleek dark smoked oak timber with an matt and rough cut finish. 4. INTERIOR-iDâ€™s new workspace.
MATERIAL LIBRARY With the advent of our new larger studio we have been able to assemble one of the best sample libraries in the bespoke joinery world. Whether wood, glass, leather, textiles, liquid metal or specialised finishes utilising the most innovative of materials INTERIOR-iD work on combining these elements to achieve unparalleled results. We look forward to sharing this library with you in the near future.
Robert Windsor Director at Wetherell
The last thing you bought and love I recently bought an old Mercedes 300 SL which I love driving Somewhere you’ve travelled in the last year I have just returned from a work trip to Mumbai which was a real eye opener. The scale of property development there is immense and the opportunities endless… An object you would never part with The wife, not that I see women as objects… Your favourite room I’m loving my kitchen at the moment, turns out I’m pretty good at baking! The book on your bedside table A Moveable Feast-Ernest Hemingway A movie you saw recently The Grand Budapest Hotel, love Wes Anderson films The sight that inspires you London on a sunny day Your favourite restaurant Rules in the winter, Y Ming in Soho for amazing Chinese The last music you bought I just replaced my copy of Nothing’s Shocking by Jane’s Addiction as I had tickets to see them play at the Brixton Academy
Your greatest extravagance London taxis! Your favourite journey Home When you lie When I have to, but almost never Your great regret Not sticking with the guitar when I was young When and where you are happiest Home with friends and family The talent you’d most like to have Being able to play any musical instrument perfectly What you would change about yourself I’m old enough now to have accepted my lot Your most treasured possession My wedding ring Your most marked characteristic Approachable. I try to get on with everyone… Your hero in life Ferris Bueller Your motto ‘Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it’
Your favourite shop Liberty for clothes and furniture, it’s also where I get my hair cut! Your career in a parallel universe Something artistic, musician or writer