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  • Unexpected Charm: A conversation with Fettle Design

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09 / 01 / 2020
In just six years, since they founded their studio based both in London and Los Angeles, Andy Goodwin and Tom Parker are changing the global restaurant and hospitality design scene and it’s easy to understand why: they are responsible for the design of vibrant and soulful interiors that bring together a traditional style with lots of unexpected details. After working together for the acclaimed studio Martin Brudnizki, they share an impressive portfolio that includes hotels like The Hoxton, in Portland, or the Marylebone, in London, but also the new Moncks of Dover Street brasserie, in Mayfair. We talked with the duo to get a better understanding of the motivation and vision they share, which goes hand-in-hand with their discerning and sensitive perspective on the personal and family life of each of their clients.

What motivated you to open the studio?
We opened the studio shortly before Christmas 2013. We had both had great experiences and good positions working at larger companies but felt that we wanted to be more connected to the design process. We had been discussing starting our own company for some time and it all just fell into place timing and projects wise.

What is your team like?
We have a small team of eight across the London and L.A. studios consisting of experienced and talented designers most of whom we have known for a long time. This gives the studio a very personal feel as we all spend time together in and out of the office. Every designer in both offices works across European and American projects to keep the quality and language of our projects as consistent as possible. This can be tricky for new employees at first as most UK based designers aren’t used to working in Imperial measurements but we are lucky enough to have some brilliant senior designers who help develop new staff and keep the studio running efficiently.

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How well do both of you complement each other in your daily work?
We both have very similar skill sets and this helps us run the two studios consistently. Andy runs all European projects and Tom reviews and comments on American projects. This is great as it gives us both a different perspective on all aspects of project work. We also have clients who we work with across both continents on different projects and this help us to offer them a very consistent service and experience.

What is your philosophy on design?
Regards a design philosophy we both feel that spaces have to work operationally whether they are hospitality or residential spaces. For us, everything revolves around this approach. The look and feel of a space are also crucial but especially with our hospitality projects, in particular, it’s essential that these spaces function properly first and foremost. We would probably say, in summary, that our philosophy is about trying to understand how people physically and ergonomically use spaces and designing to best suit this.

And what about your life philosophy?
This is more complicated and probably depends on what day you catch us on. The studio is important to us but especially as we grow older our personal lives come first and we expect the same of the designers in the studios. We are both married and Andy has a young child so we have a lot going on that takes priority over work. That means that we will often work at very strange hours and it’s not unusual for us to have some of our best design conversations and breakthroughs at 2 am. The time difference makes this even better as we often ring each other in the middle of the night by mistake which has to lead to some very interesting design and life chats over the years.

 
Comfortable and sophisticated interiors are not necessarily synonymous at all times... How do you manage to give your projects a homey feeling, adding that twist of sophistication?
Every designer approaches this differently but we find that the most homely spaces, particularly in regards to more traditional design schemes, are achieved through layering. By layering we mean not only layering of lighting; pendants, bulkhead, floor, wall and table lights but also materials, artwork, and dressing. Once you start to layer these elements over the architectural shell of the building, space tends to get more and more cozy and intimate.

Could you highlight any of your projects, for a special reason?
There have been several over the years that we have a particular attachment to. Oxford Blue in Windsor, UK, was our first big commercial project and the Draycott in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, was our first big American commission so these are always memorable. That said, as a small studio, every project is very personal to us and we often become very close with the clients seeing as we have completed several repeat projects with most of our clients.

"Key rules" for good interior design will always be...
Develop a good design agenda and stick to it. If you have a good concept, narrative or even a reason why you are designing a space and stick to it throughout the project, it will keep the final product at a consistently high quality.

Who or what are your major inspirations?
We take different inspirations from different places for every project. Whether that's location or brand story. There are also some superb design companies out there at the moment. There’s a lot of great work coming out of Italy that we follow such as Studio Peregalli and Dimore Studio, as well as Studio Modijefsky from Amsterdam. There are also companies we have followed since we first started like Roman and Williams. That said, the longer time goes on the more we have found our path and language and the inspiration comes increasingly from the locality of the project or the story of what the client is aiming to achieve.

Do you have any dream projects still to accomplish?
We talk about this a lot in the studio actually and we have always loved the idea of doing a small boutique hotel in a rural or kitsch location. Ideally fourteen or fifteen bedrooms where every space is totally and potentially a bit crazy! Also if it could have some kind of forest or large garden area that would be great. We looked at one a while ago in San Luis Obispo, California, but as yet it hasn’t come to fruition so that’s still the dream.

For more information, visit Fettle Design website.
This article is only available in English. 
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