A leading global interior architecture and design house headquartered in London since 2003, Lawson Robb specializes in the highest quality residential and five-star-plus hospitality design for the world’s finest addresses. A large number of the firm’s projects are located internationally particularly in Asia and Malaysia where they are working for high-profile clients, and the Middle East where the studio is working for notable families on major projects. In this interview, co-founders Charlotte Robb and Alix Lawson talk about how they came about establishing their design firm.
Can you tell us about how you the company came about?
We founded Lawson Robb when we were both 23 years old, after we met at the world-famous Inchbald School of Design. We started in 2003 with a vision to provide a highly tailored and disciplined approach, yet one that would surprise and provide dynamic twists on the expected.
Our approach though is collegiate, working as a studio, and so far, we have assembled a team comprising eight different nationalities speaking 10 languages.
Can you talk about some of your current projects and those that are in the pipeline?
We have a number of exciting projects underway: some commercial such as a hotel on Viaques in Puerto Rico; some for private and eminent families in the UAE particularly Dubai, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi; and both private and development commissions in prime central London. Each is different in scope and brief and it is thrilling to have to approach each one with a different set of objectives and design solutions.
What is your design philosophy?
Lawson Robb is known for delivering a highly coutured service. It has developed longstanding relationships with clients and networks through a unique and unparalleled approach and haute couture design philosophy. The studio is extremely proud of its world-class talented and driven team, which speaks 12 languages and is finely nuanced in international cultures and specialisms. Together they deliver a truly special and articulate experience for all its clients. Intent on forward-thinking design, Lawson Robb lives and breathes the pursuit of invention and re-invention, function and beauty, embracing clients’ individuality. They continuously scour the world for emerging designers, new materials and techniques. Service and approach is based on meticulous delivery, a disciplined framework, astute commerciality, technical excellence to ensure they deliver every project on budget and on time.
What do you think the design trends for home interiors will be this coming 2017?
There is definitely a direction towards developing storage systems that are linked to technology so that they might voice or individual touch-activated. As designers we all love symmetry but the balance to that – done well and in the right place – is asymmetry and playing with geometric shapes. Think of gemstones and fractals applied to two- and three-dimensional surfaces such as rugs, furniture and lighting. One of our projects, which is for GrandLane Developments in London’s Knightsbridge, uses asymmetry in numerous exciting ways, whether that is subtle recessed lighting, drinks bars with curved walls, or bold veining in marble slabs. It makes for a dynamic visual journey as long as it is anchored well with solid pieces.
What inspires your work at Lawson Robb?
Lawson Robb’s studio members travel widely. We are all imbued with a love for adventure and seeking out unusual finishes and materials deployed in innovative ways that we have not used before. We use our travel as well to meet and reacquaint with trusted artisans around the world.
What do you like most about interior architecture and interior design?
We are focused on creating a fusion between interior architecture and interior design. The two go hand in hand and it is essential to start with a clear vision for the space as a whole, and how it connects with individual elements, before one gets to laying out the furnishings. The whole has to be considered from the outset to ensure the most comfortable flow between spaces. Our intent is to create an environment that stands the test of time through a classical discipline, yet one that is surprising and innovative through its use of materials and finishes. We gain the most pleasure from seeing a client’s joy at having a space that exceeds their original expectations or wishes.
How has design evolved over the years to complement the way we live, work and play?
Technology is really making a play in the home, but useful technology, not just for the sake of it. For example this is being applied right from the outset to how designs are progressed and finalized by clients. Through technology we can adjust different aspects of layouts and specifications to show different options. It is a skill to imagine spaces in three-dimension from a plan or moodboard, so anything that can facilitate the process for the client works to everyone’s advantage. The focus is strictly on the client. As we and our clients all travel more and are exposed to a wider range of influences and materials, so our designs become more sophisticated and advanced. It is our challenge as designers to assemble these influences into a coherent yet exciting design language, yet one that speaks explicitly to each client’s personal experience. They want to see the individual in their home, not a universal palette applied to many.
What’s coming up for Lawson Robb in 2017?
2017 is such an exciting year for the studio as so many of our current projects come to fruition this year. We are also launching select furniture collections, wallpapers and complimentary products, and are on the lookout to establish strategic design brand partnerships for certain interiors elements. We are also engaging with more commercial projects around the world. Plus our team is expanding!
Finally any advice for established as well as upcoming designers and those involved in the design industry?
We started out with an unrelenting passion for difference and boldness. Of course as ingenues there were projects which were early for their time and our approach challenged the status quo. Fast forward nearly 15 years and our experience and working with many different cultures on a vast range of projects means that we deliver that commitment to dynamic creativity and a desire to push boundaries in a way that clients find comfortably refreshing , yet practical and timeless. Overall, though, the process from start to delivery needs to be managed to the finest detail – this is what makes the client’s journey enjoyable, will amaze them at the final reveal and will be the fuel for more commissions.