Interior Designer Guru
Timothy Oulton is an iconic Interior Designer. Blessed with the “Midas” touch with visionary original conceptual designs that resonate taste, style, luxury to a bionic level, sort after by a kaleidoscope of discerning clients as his inventive furniture products fall effortlessly into their homes…this is the interior designer who anyone in the known has on speed dial. Today we bring you guys an exclusive interview our partner Louis Mariette.
There must be a fine line balance when working with a client to get your vision into their home. Are you given carte Blanche or is an intense project liaising all the way until completion?
I like to think our clients are special, usually a bit daring. Some know exactly what they want and how to fit us into their home, while others just like the overall feeling or impression they get from our collections and style, but are not sure where to start. Either way, it’s important that it’s their vision – it’s their “home”. One of our recent projects was the Blue Room at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, it’s a real institution in the city. The team there asked us to provide somewhere for people to meet, relax, do business, but in the context of a club with a great and storied history. We used our furniture mixed in with a whole load of vintage memorabilia we found in their basement to really pay homage to the club’s heritage. We wanted to create this piece of history, a sensory overload, it’s not like anything else in the building.
Do you get anxious unveiling your final work to a client?
Not so much nervous – we generally try to get to know our clients well through the process. Often it comes together in pieces over time, and we work on it together. So not really nervous, but we do get excited.
To date what was your most exciting project that gives you a personal sense of great pride.
We are always trying to do the “next thing”, to test ourselves. So usually it’s the last thing we’ve done. I mentioned the LA Athletics Club as a recent highlight – such a privilege to work with them. But in the last year we’ve also had other great projects. We refresh our stores regularly, with new layouts. We’ve opened stores in Auckland and Dubai, and each one is different. And we also have been working on the Dome Home. It’s really special. We built it as a sort of creative hub for our designers to come together, have some down time, and we entertain a lot of visitors there. It’s a certified passive house, built entirely from timber, with the interior paneling in reclaimed English pine. Domes have been around for thousands of years but we wanted to do something different, modern. The concept is that we can build it and then ship it anywhere in the world. The furniture inside echoes the dome, the custom kitchen hugs the curved wall, the Shabby sofa is curved and there’s a round marble table that we all sit round and eat at together.
It is staggering the amount outlets you have globally from Sydney, Hong Kong, Jeddah to Guatemala! Tell me more about your team.
We’d like to be in the best 50 cities in the world. Whether you’re in L.A., Amsterdam or Beirut, we want you to have the same experience walking into any of our galleries, a feeling that’s very distinctive. Our gallery ambassadors are really dynamic – they’ve all been to visit our workshops and see how we make things; they’ve watched the craftsmanship in action, and they’re passionate about telling those stories. They’re supported by a small team zipping round the world helping with visual merchandising and styling, store development, and events.
Sourcing materials, around the world and developing your products must be an exciting process. How hands on are you, for example do you travel abroad to visit manufacturers/suppliers personally?
I’m very hands on, it’s just always been the way I’ve done things. Business is all about people, and our suppliers are very important to us, to get just the effects we are trying to create. We have a pretty big network now, so I can’t be everywhere. But especially for new materials and collections, I’m directly involved. It’s in my blood. I just want it to be the best it can possibly be, so I have to get involved. I have a great team, like-minded people who share that passion, and we’re all working towards the same thing. We talk about best on planet – that’s our battle cry in everything we do.
There is a sense of British pride and of course as a milliner I adore your quirky vintage bowler hat that appears once in a while. How does “Britishness” get received by your global market
British heritage is really important to us. When I was working in the antiques industry I fell in love with British craftsmanship, things that were built to last, built for empire, almost. It wasn’t the empire that was important, it was the vision and commitment to quality, to the future, that struck me. My dad was a major in the British Army, I was lucky enough to go to a great school in the UK – and those things stay with you. People sense that in your work. People want things that have authenticity and purpose, and that resonates with people in Moscow or New York just as much as it does with someone in London.
Finally a bird chirped in my ear about an exciting project you have instigated regarding a dinner party project. Tell us more about what to expect for 2015/16?
We’ve been talking about this idea of hosting being a lost art, an art that we want to revive. At the end of the day it’s about having people to your home. We’re holding a sort of global dinner party odyssey; four very different dinner parties in China, L.A, New York and Amsterdam, with each one built around our collections. After a worldwide search we’ve appointed a Dinner Party Critic to travel to each event and review the whole experience, not just the food but the atmosphere, interior, music and conversation. We’re also getting ready to launch the 2016 collection in January and more projects are on the near horizon, there are lots of exciting things happening right now.
“The new collections have a very distinctive energy that sort of radiates from within. The shapes and materials we’ve used are bold and dynamic, but they’re also cosy and inviting at the same time.”
To know more about this amazing designer, please visit: Timothy Oulton