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11 Mar - Interviews

A chat with Interior Designer Suzy Hoodless

The inspiration behind AllBright London's members club

Described by the Telegraph as “one of the true movers and shakers of the interiors world” and “Britain’s brightest tastemaker” by Harper’s Bazaar, Suzy’s bold aesthetic emerges strongly in all of her projects.

 

1. Can you tell us about the concept of a women’s only club and how it inspired your designs?

The concept of a women’s only club is about empowerment and working together to inspire success. We wanted to celebrate the multifaceted dynamic of powerful women by creating an environment that is both glamorous and functional creating spaces that are indulgent and restorative; somewhere women can work, relax, share ideas and collaborate.  The club is a physical space for women to come together.  The building is 10,000 sq ft, it houses two restaurants, a large outdoor terrace, an event floor as well as a wellness floor with a beauty salon and studio as well as treatment rooms.

2. What brief did you follow and what inspiration did you draw from to create these bold and striking interiors?

As with all our projects, we worked closely with the client team to develop a detailed brief to accommodate the different requirements for the space. The concept of a female powerhouse inspired a strong sense of conviction in our design choices.  We were inspired by the building in Mayfair, a former auction house.  The buildings proximity to Saville Row and also to the art galleries in Cork Street and surrounding streets were also a strong influence.  We wanted the building to feel like a home, modern classic and for the design to have longevity.

3. How do you choose your products from lighting, furniture and fittings to fit with the design process and is this selection led by quality or appearance?

Quality in the design and finish underpins all our design choices. We choose from a range of sources, mixing and layering prices from vintage to contemporary and bespoke, made especially for a space. Every piece and product specified has to meet various criteria, it has to stand the test of time, both visually and practically.  We want good quality products that don’t date.  We are not focused on particular periods or styles but rather strong individual pieces that when mixed with other pieces will take on a new personality.

4. All the women’s club is beautifully designed but what is your favourite room at the AllBright and why?

What’s important about our design is the flow and continuity, how a space works and the journey through the building.  An interior needs a rhythm, it’s a carefully curated alchemy.  The monochrome staircase with the houndstooth runner sets the tone and leads into strong colour filled spaces.  It’s that combination that exudes power, confidence and glamour.  The outdoor terrace is such a rarity in central London and the bathrooms are the hidden spaces where we wanted an element of surprise, bright bold wallpapers, bespoke vanity and the beautifully designed and ergonomic Drummonds taps and sanitaryware.

5. What was the most challenging part of the AllBright project?

We had to work fast and be decisive.  We didn’t have the luxury of time that we often have on large scale residential projects.  The design development stage had to be compressed and turn around fast.  We only work with suppliers we know can deliver and this was of up most importance on this project.

6. What’s your personal style, do you have any Suzy Hoodless signatures?

I love good design.  I want design to support and enhance everyday life.  To put a smile on peoples’ faces, to encourage curiosity and discussion.  I want design to be ergonomic and make life efficient and streamlined.  I like mixing periods and styles.  I want design to be understated, classic modern and built to last.  I am drawn to good quality materials and textures.  Colour is an effective and powerful tool to influence and change a space.

 

7. What’s next for your team?

We continue to work at Television Centre, a residents’ lounge, screening room, meeting rooms and central lobby have recently been completed. 1000 apartments sit alongside restaurants and bars.  We are currently working on an eighteenth century home in Mayfair, a Notting Hill white stucco townhouse, a vast Arts and Crafts family home in Hampstead amongst other London projects as well as a Georgian house in Shropshire.

 

8. What advice would you give to someone who is inspired by design into their own projects?

To research and plan. Spend time collating ideas, working on the look and feel of a space as well as layouts.  Thinking through how a space needs to work, what you want it to feel like, what you want it to evoke.  Who is going to use it and at what time of the day.  Homes need to work hard to be ergonomic powerhouses, super efficient high tech and at the same time glamorous and comfortable.  We want homes to look like an extension of our client’s personality and to look like they have grown over time.

9. What is the significance of bathroom design in your projects?

Bathrooms are a key room in every project. We want them to be efficient sanctuaries.  We want timeless modern and classic sanitaryware that looks good but feels great too.  That’s ergonomic and logical to use.  Bathrooms have to work on a number of levels, they have to work for fast paced mornings, providing a tight turn around as well as slower paced times of the day, perhaps evenings and weekends when the bathroom is more of an escape from the world and the rest of house.  Every element has a strong part to play.  It starts with good quality sanitaryware, often eye level storage and lighting.  We want them to feel like rooms in their own right, warm natural floor finishes and adding furniture to keep the flow with the rest of the house, to add personality and comfort.

10. What is your favourite Drummonds product?

Drummonds designs fit in so well with our ethos of good quality timeless design.  We are currently specifying The Mull collection, it’s simple and classic design works perfectly in an Arts and Crafts house.  I have The Syre Basin at home in our cloakroom and it’s enjoyed everyday, it makes me so happy to see and use it, it’s robust and able to withstand the chaos of the mornings as well as parties and family life.

11. Where do you get ideas and inspiration from?

Everywhere.  You can find inspiration and the iphone is an essential tool. I take endless photographs.  Architecture, travel, films, galleries, fashion, food and nature.  I love going to new places.

 

12. What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? And the most rewarding one?

We safeguard ourselves from frustrations.  Interior Design is all about good project management as well as a keen experienced eye with strong reference points and a clear vision.  Projects start with a timeline as well as developing the look and feel.  A strong team and the best suppliers and craftsmen are paramount for the success of every project and an uncompromising devotion to the end result.  The whole process is rewarding; working with people at the top of their game through to the design process; sourcing; designing and making unique pieces that are built to last and will be handed down through generations is gratifying and then of course seeing the design come together and creating spaces that are much loved homes for our clients and commercial spaces that are the visual representation of their companies DNA

13. What is your favourite book/magazine on design? How about your favourite site?

Too many to list, however our studio is filled with books bought over 30 years from all aspects of design and architecture. We collect from inspiring art exhibitions and at the beginning of every project it’s important to immerse in the architecture and any historical significance; it’s a spring board to ensure the design has integrity.  Thank goodness we don’t have to collect catalogues from Salone del Mobile any more and websites are the first port of call.

 

 

14. Can you recommend a hotel you stayed in where the interior design really impressed and inspired you?

The Newt in Somerset is a must see.

 

15. Is there a space in London which you find yourself continuously drawn to because of the beautiful interior?

Well my home and our studio in Clarendon Cross.  I love theatres and my advice is to always look up.  Look at the Lynn Chadwick sculpture sitting high up on Fortnum and Masons façade.  I love the classicism of the interior at the Royal Opera House with the new Linbury theatre, and the later additions of the modern public spaces.  I love the graphic timeless modernity of The Fire Station on the Kings Road.  I rarely pass a church without going in, I am in awe of the vastness, precision in design of these buildings.  I am interested in how historic buildings adapt and modernise whilst retaining their original design.  This is so key in our work, understanding and respecting architecture and re-modelling for them to work for the latest inhabitants.

16. The Albright is a women’s only club and meant to inspire women, who are your female icons and role models and why?

I am inspired by women who are strong and have a sense of self purpose and progression.  It’s important to continue to grow and never stand still. We recently installed a rare 16th Century tapestry which belonged to Eleanor Roosevelt and I am reminded of one of her quotes

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.”

 

 

See the Allbright project by Suzy Hoodless here