Redefining excellence: What is luxury interior design?
- By: Ashley Saunders
- June 2019
Defining what luxury interior design is a complex answer, which is often oversimplified. At the pinnacle of any luxury interior design is an obsession with detail, quality and craftsmanship.
It’s a misnomer to believe that cost is the sole determining factor. In fact, the cost is a result of fixation of detail and quality.
Luxury redefines how we live and expands the mind.
Historically luxury interiors were about expensive bling. Picture for a moment the formal rooms of a stately home. You’ll likely imagine a rich tapestry of the finest materials, lofty rooms, ornate chandeliers and an emotive experience.
While today’s luxury interior designers have paired back the gold leaf details, they still explore the world to source the best materials in order to create an emotional response.
Come with us as we explore: What is luxury interior design?
What is Luxury?
Answering such a question is a tall order.
Luxury is a feeling, an emotion, hard to define but easy to recognize. It’s a mindset. True luxury is in the details.
However, that only scratches the surface.
As already stated, defining what is a luxury interior design is more than the price yet, that is a component part.
The designer has the largest impact on the project. Even in a sea of monochrome so-called “luxury interiors”, each designer’s fingerprints are often more present than first meets the eye.
It’s also the materials, the layers, the furniture designs, the hidden extras. Not discounting the craftsmanship and the hours spent honing one’s skills.
Again defining luxury as only one of these element misses the wider point. It’s a much more nuanced picture.
What is luxury interior design?
One of the easiest ways to define luxury interiors is to explore the unique features.
At the top of most people’s list is a home automation system. A prolific designer once wistfully said, “If you’re closing your curtains, you’re living in the past!” While this somewhat stretches the truth, today’s high-end interiors have some form of automation.
It’s now possible to control your main gate or front door while out at sea. Lights can be set so they mimic you typically pattern, whether you’re at home or halfway around the world.
While these high-tech features might seem like the height of luxury themselves, for most, they are essential.
It’s when we start to explore some of the more eccentric features, that we see what luxury interior design have morphed into.
It’s not uncommon to see swimming pools which magically turn into dance floors. While unquestionably unique, in a London town-house where space is already non-existent, this feature can be deemed essential to a work-life balance.
Another outlandish feature that only exists in luxury interiors is the photo mirror. This mirror actually hides a camera which takes a 360-degree picture of you. Thus allowing you to answer the age-old questions “does my butt look big in this”?
Several property developers specialise in creating new basements. However, these aren’t you ordinary basements!
Also, a section like this wouldn’t be complete without us mentioning helipads, staff accommodation and even stabling for one’s polo team!
While most of us dream about it, others are counting the cost of owning such properties.
Exploring the finest materials
It’s hard to draw meaningful comparisons between standard and luxury finishes. Usually, such discussions end in oversimplification, which often misses the point.
Our best analogy would be buying your first cotton shirt, after wearing polyester shirts for years.
Of course, the polyester looks smart and probably feels comfortable to wear. However, the cotton allows your skin to breath and moves with you. It not only looks fantastic, but it also makes you feel excellent.
Most high-end interior design companies spend hundreds of man-hours travelling and exploring to find designer and craftsmen. These people have spent their career in pursuit of excellent and have skills you can’t learn by studying alone. It’s akin to buying a supercar directly from Enzo Ferrari.
It may be best to explore some examples to fully illustrate the point.
Based in Lake Como, Promemoria has been creating hand made furniture since 1988. Headed by Romeo Sozzi, who’s family centuries ago maintained and restored carriages for the local nobility.
Romeo is obsessed with designing and fills multiple notebooks each year with drawings and sketches. His team are some of the finest craftsmen in Italy and all are dedicated to creating outstanding pieces of art.
Promemoria uses exotic woods such as Tuscan cypress and Macassar ebony and fabrics like linen, silk and cashmere. As you can imagine, these materials coupled with the finest craftsmanship creates a truly exceptional product.
Using centuries-old techniques, de Gournay create a range of handmade fabrics and wallpapers.
The London based firm creates pieces using their in-house artisans, which will hold its value for many years. As many of their fabrics and wallpapers are custom, they are as unique as they are valuable.
The de Gournay quality is immediately noticeable to the naked eye. Their products are far superior to machine-made replicas.
BANG & OLUFSEN
Audio and television wouldn’t be the same without BANG & OLUFSEN pushing the boundaries. The audiovisual space has seen many brands come and go, but B&O still sets the standard.
Since 1925, the Danish brand is world renown for building iconic products including televisions, hi-fis and telephones. Over the years many companies have drawn inspiration from B&O products.
Their longevity can be attributed to two elements. They have a strong commitment to the faithful reproduction of audio and visuals and to iconic design. Most brands that have appeared only to disappear shortly after have seemly focused on only of the two elements.
As high-end creations, BANG & OLUFSEN remain stylish and hold their value well.
The first is Clive Christian, primarily known for his kitchens, Clive has since expanded to design the whole house and has even launched a perfume range.
Clive in the 70s took the kitchen from the basement and moved it to the ground floor while enlarging the space to make it more communal. He even added chandeliers!
Today Clive Christian kitchens can be found in the homes of Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Celine Dion, and Shania Twain.
Interior Designers to watch
It’s never easy to highlight our favourite high-end designers, and so we’ve picked a few based on what they do best.
Candy and Candy
Firstly, Candy and Candy who in the late 90s changed the luxury interior design game completely. The brothers started to add cinema rooms, dressing rooms, home automation and their now classic neutral interior scheme.
Many London based interior designers got their start at Candy and Candy and so the company’s legacy continues. The firm’s clients include Kylie, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, Naomi Campbell and many Russian oligarchs.
Sophie Paterson Interiors
We first discovered Sophie Paterson on Instagram and have been hooked ever since. Sophie and her team at Sophie Paterson Interiors are experts at details and layering.
While a fairly new studio having started in 2008, Sophie has made a name for herself for timeless, effortless luxury interiors. We’d urge you to study her work and move past the muted colour scheme and look at layers and layers of details they subtly add into each project.
Another reason we admire Sophie is she’s very active on Instagram and is always happy to answer questions. She regularly posts about her own home and the many updates she makes as well as some of the projects her firm is working on.
No conversation around the topic of luxury interior design could be completed without mentioning Axel Vervoordt.
The Antwerp based designer and antiquarian is considered one of the world’s most revered tastemakers. His studio produces minimal, texturally rich interiors.
Axel and his 100 strong workforce, also deal in notable artworks and the restoration of antique furniture. His client list includes business magnets, musicians and actors such as Robert De Niro, Kanye West, Bill Gates, Sting, and Calvin Klein.
Finally, Nicky Haslam has pioneered a unique style while constantly updating and tweaking at the edges. His ability to layer antiques with modern finishes have made him one of the worlds most in-demand designers.
Nicky has designed for Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, and Rod Stewart, as well as Oligarchs and heads of states.
Luxury interiors on a budget
The first thing is to study luxury interior designers. Spend hour scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest and explore the world of luxury design.
Websites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace are also treasure troves of gems and bargains. While you might not be able to afford custom seating, you might be able to find something which is close at a fraction of the cost as it’s being made in the far east and is available on eBay.