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An Irish born, an extremely talented interior designer with an architectural education – David Collins. Best recognised for his luxury restaurant and bar interiors that can be found all over London and in many places abroad. His sudden death in 2013 moved deeply fashion and design world everywhere. His work is continued now by the Collins Studio – interior design and decoration practice he established in 1985 in London.
Born in 1995 and raised in Dublin, Ireland, David Collins’s childhood ambitions might have denied the world some of the most treasured interiors of the 20th and 21st centuries. Fortuitously, his family put pay to fashion designer and musician aspirations while an aversion to Latin prevented a career in law. Instead, David followed in his father’s footsteps with a degree at Bolton Street School of Architecture.
From Dublin, he travelled to Europe, settling in London where, in 1985, Serendipity would have him redecorate a friend’s home, a design that was later seen by Pierre Koffmann who enlisted David to design La Tante Claire. These projects were the foundations of the earliest iteration of David Collins studio; at that time, a modest practise specialising in small interior architectural jobs. Chance decisions and opportunities had led David to the point where he would determinedly begin to delineate his innovative creative vision.
From those early beginnings, David and his business partner Iain Watson set out to bring a new form of thinking to the design industry. The vision was clear: projects that are a sophisticated counterpoint between aesthetics and rationale. Inspired by the approach of 20th century modernist titans like Eileen Gray, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, David and Iain envisaged a studio that employed a team covering all elements of interior and architectural practice. This multidisciplinary team facilitated a multifaceted approach ensuring an initial concept could be developed, detailed and successfully delivered through to the final stages, thereby adhering to van der Rohe’s adage that “god is in the details”.
Over the course of the next twenty-eight years, David assiduously gathered around him designers of diverse disciplines. Under his inspired guidance, the team have realised projects that redefine how we live in public and private. David’s legacy is a subtle vision that pervades the contemporary aesthetic. Each David Collins studio project across hotels, restaurants, residential and retail, is a deeply textured interior that feels simultaneously contemporary and established, rooted in the life and traditions of its location and exemplifying the studio’s extraordinary capacity to reinvent and reinterpret the past.
David Collins died in 2013. Being a truly gifted and inspirational man has left us with some of the most remarkable and treasured interiors. David Collins studio still exists in London. In his honour studio have made a donation to MacMillan cancer support whose incredible team cannot be underestimated.
See also: Top Interior Designers | Patricia Urquiola
Elegant Grade II listed villa in London, UK
This five bedroom home features a collection of eclectic, whimsical and refined twentieth-century antiques together with bespoke David Collins studio furniture and lighting. Furniture and lighting includes an important Pierre Bobot gold lacquer screen and intricately carved chandeliers designed by the studio. The home utilizes a wide palette of colours and materials including a studded yellow leather card table and chairs and a study panelled in lavender lacquer. This project was realised in 2008.
10 Trinity Square in London, UK
A hotel and residential concept developed for kop properties at the landmark 10 Trinity Square in 2011. The building was originally created as the headquarters for the port of London authority in 1922. David Collins studio created a series of vignettes representing the 37 residences to be created within the project.
Alexander McQueen, 9 Savile Row in London, UK
The David Collins studio designed alexander McQueen menswear flagship store opened in October 2012 at 9 Savile row and is 210 square metres. The store is part of the on-going global collaboration between the studio and Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen (Kering). The space has been designed with a gallery aesthetic, retaining the original parquet flooring and framing the intricate plaster panels as artworks on the walls of the store. The rear of the store features a glass cube installation that is curated by Sadie Coles HQ.
Delaire Graff Estate Lodges in Stellenbosch, South Africa
Opened in April 2010, the Delaire Graff estate lodges and spa sit within the Helshoogte mountain pass outside cape town. Created for Laurence Graff Obe, owner of the Delaire Graff estate, the design of each lodge is inspired by the local cape Dutch architecture with a palette that takes inspiration from the backdrop of the wine lands. Grass papers, end grain flooring, polished plasters, hand woven rugs and textured leathers create a refined feel using indigenous materials. The hotel comprises a series of ten lodges that feature a collection of furniture designed by David Collins studio and fabricated locally in South Africa. The Delaire Graff estate is the winner of the “best grape estate” from wallpaper* magazine and was included in the “best new hotels 2011” by travel & leisure.
The Gate Suites at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles, California, USA
The gate suites at the London West Hollywood were designed by David Collins studio for the Blackstone Group in 2014. Located on the ninth floor of the hotel, the five gate suites each take their inspiration and their name from London’s iconic Hyde Park. Each suite measures 70 square metres. Their design features an evolution of the iconic David Collins studio designed furniture created for the hotel and artwork that interprets the Hyde Park gates created by the studio in collaboration with young British artists Alexander Innes and Eleanor Cunningham.
Bob Bob Ricard in Soho, London, UK
BBR is a brasserie inspired by the romance of early 20th-century travel, the idea of the train éclair de luxe, by the wagon-lits, and by the grand brasseries and hotels of central Europe. The brand insignia, designed by David Collins studio, has been incorporated throughout the design. Using finishes including marbles, terrazzo and custom ikat and kaleidoscopic wallpapers, a fin de siècle world has been created. BBR is the recipient of Best Booth Award (Wallpaper*) and Best New Design (Time Out).
Bassoon, Corinthia Hotel in London, UK
Opened in April 2011, Bassoon explores the parallels between music and design. The bar is at once contemporary and elegant, but never takes itself too seriously, featuring a 20-foot grand piano-bar. The bar has been created for Corinthian hotels with 60 covers. The hotel sits on the site of the former metropole hotel.
The Connaught Bar in London, UK
Created in 2008 for the Maybourne Hotel Group, the Connaught bar comprises three rooms featuring hand-dyed degrade leathers, metal-studded black leather tables, and silver leaf mirror artwork created by David Collins studio. The bar is panelled in a hand-painted Hibernian landscape designed in collaboration with atelier Pierre Bonneville and realised in dusty pink, pistachio green, and pale lilac all framed in platinum silver leafed oak panels, representing the Irish landscape. The bar is the recipient of many awards including “best interior design of the year” (Elle Decoration) and best bar for sealing the deal (esquire man at the top awards).
Artesian, The Langham Hotel in London, UK
Created for Langham Hotels & Resorts and opened in 2008, the award-winning artesian bar takes its eclectic inspiration from the Victorian cabinets of curiosities featuring hidden textures, details and references including jewelled mirror jewelled panelling, blue and purple crocodile leather tiles, bespoke lacquers referencing la chasse aux papillons, and a pagoda bar. Three oversized hand-crafted chandeliers add to narrative exploring the empire and the far east within the scheme. Artesian has won the title of the “world’s best bar” in 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as the “most influential European bar” in the cocktail & spirit awards.
Established in 1985, David Collins studio is an architectural based consultancy which has redefined luxury interior design on a global scale. The creative director of David Collins studio is Simon Rawlings. Throughout his 16 years with the company, he has been fundamental in defining and implementing the studio’s creative vision, working in close collaboration with David Collins and the creative team.
The studio have been involved in designing unique projects for a wide range of clients both in the commercial worlds of high fashion as well as the design of some of London’s most loved and revered restaurants, hotels and bars. Works for private clients are no less impressive although they have developed a reputation for discretion as well as creativity in work designing homes for those who appreciate beauty, comfort and attention to detail.
After 28 years of growth syudio now eploys over fifty staff handpicked from the best talent available organised in dedicated teams servicing each project. Studio is involved in a range of projects as creative lead consultants, in projects ranging from £1 million to exclusive global developments with budgets in excess of £100 million.
The reputation the studio have built reflects their passion for design, hard work and interesting challenges that express their creativity. In 2014 David Collins studio joined Walpole British Luxury. In 2013 Walpole honoured David Collins with the lifetime achievement award.
See also: Top Interior Designers | Marcel Wanders
The things that mattered to David, as much as style and the right shade of blue, were his loyal and long-lasting circle of friends – who were like his family. You could always count on him to tell you what’s what, to pay you a compliment, to tell you off, to break a diet with a scone or a cake, or to play cards with you. He involved you in all of his life. He adored glamour and beautiful things, and was always rushing off to Loro Piana to buy his mother something fabulous. He had a great sense of humour – he could make you cry with laughter. Fiona Golfar, Vogue, 2013
Emotive fantasias are the specialty of his award-winning firm, which picks up where that mistress of Commercial Baroque, Dorothy Draper, left off. AD, January 2012