Tuesday, 22 May 2018 07:16

Lulie Fisher discusses why she was always destined to become an interior designer

    Before launching Lulie Fisher Design Studio in 2016, Lulie spent more than 25 years working as an architect and interior designer at Foster + Partners in London and later at Aedas Interiors’ Studio in Dubai. Coming from a highly creative family, Lulie was always destined to become an interior designer. She has recently been appointed to design the luxury beach- and golf-front villas launched as the first phase of the landmark Blue Amber resort in Zanzibar.

    Q. Can you please provide us with a description of your professional career?

    A. I studied architecture at Liverpool John Moores University graduating with a BA Hons degree in 1988 and a postgraduate diploma in 1991. During my university years, I did a wonderful summer of work experience at the Richard Rogers Partnership (now Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners) and a year of professional practice for Frank Fitzgibbons in Los Angeles.

    After finishing my studies, I was lucky enough to be accepted for a position as a junior architect at Foster + Partners’ studio in London. I spent 12 amazing years there, working my way up through the ranks to a project director. I led the design of many buildings including the London School of Economics Library and the Robert Gordon University in Scotland. I left Foster + Partners in 2003 to follow my dream of living in Italy and established my own design studio where I restored historic properties and remodelled the interiors.

    From my Italian studio, I also continued to work for Foster + Partners in the capacity of interior designer on the Yacht Club de Monaco, the Vista Palace Hotel, Monaco, the MGM Lifestyle Hotel and the Mr Chow Restaurant in Las Vegas.

    In 2008, I again relocated, this time to Dubai to take the position of interior design director for the MENA region at Aedas Interiors. Here, I built up a team working with some of the world’s leading hotel brands, developers, individuals and institutions.

    In 2016 I decided to again follow my heart and established my own design company, Lulie Fisher Design Studio, which I formed with some very talented and like-minded designers and colleagues, and a year and a half later we are lucky enough to be working with Penny Royal Gibraltar on the stunning Blue Amber Resort in Zanzibar, The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority, Accor, Jumeirah, Emaar, Carlson Rezidor, Omniyat and Aldar.

    Q. What inspired you to become an interior designer?

    A. I am passionate about all fields of design. I was brought up in a highly creative family environment – my grandmother was the first female architect to study at the Architectural Association in London where she met my grandfather also an architectural student – and I have a love of fashion, art, reading, architecture and design. My addiction to colour and patterns and all things tactile led me inevitably into interior design where I could indulge these passions having kept them rigorously in check during my Foster + Partners years!

    Q. Who has been your greatest source of inspiration throughout your career?

    A. My greatest inspiration was my mother who brought me up to love art and architecture and to be interested in everyone and everything and to love reading which she did voraciously. I would come home from school to regularly find piles of books by my bedside which she had hand-picked for me as her latest must-read list.

    Q. How do you approach your projects?

    A. I approach all projects with a completely open mind. Together, with my small team of designers, we brainstorm ideas and a concept, always looking for a fun and unusual angle to provide design inspiration.

    Q. Who is your favourite interior designer and why?

    A. I love the work of many different designers for different reasons – Gio Ponti for his complete immersion in his period, Carlo Scarpa for his geometry, Verner Panto for his craziness, Norman Foster for his rigour and timeless elegance and India Mahdavi for her form and colours.

    Q. Would you say that you have a design style? If so, how would you describe this style?

    A. I would say my design style is quirky, colourful and eclectic. These traits are not necessarily appropriate for all projects and design solutions and I sometimes have to work at controlling them. Blue Amber gives me the opportunity to bring these design characteristics to life.

    Q. What do you believe is the biggest challenge for today’s interior designers?

    A. Unrealistically tight programmes and the client’s desire to see realistic CGI renders at concept stage when the design should still be fluid and exploratory.

    Q. What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

    A. My biggest accomplishment to date has been bringing up my daughter and seeing her flourish.

    Q. What has been your most notable project?

    A. My most notable project to date has probably been leading the interior design for Aedas Interiors of the 500,000m² Cleveland Clinic, Abu Dhabi – a five-star state-of-the-art teaching hospital where I led the design of the public areas, the clinics, the patients’ rooms and suites and the royal floors.

    Q. Can you talk us through your concept for the Blue Amber luxury villas?

    A. Blue Amber is a place to unwind and soak up the tranquillity and beauty of its natural surroundings. The colours and textures of this extraordinary site have been translated into a design language through the use of natural, earthy palettes and textured surfaces, reflecting the rugged land and the tranquil and impossibly blue waters. These natural palettes are juxtaposed with elements of luxury and sophistication and some surprising and playful touches to create elements of surprise. These features combine together to create an interior design, which is casual yet refined, and simple yet luxurious.

    Dreamy pale blues have been introduced into the sanitaryware collections in the form of freestanding sculptural bath tubs with floor-mounted faucets and stunning washbasin vessels mounted on live edge timber vanities.

    The spicy and earthy colours, intricately carved doors with their brass detailing, the sometimes rich, sometimes weathered timbers, and colourful patterned fabrics that embody the vernacular of Zanzibar have provided strong inspiration for the design. Local handcrafts and art pieces will be used to accessorise creating an unmistakable sense of place.

    Q. Have you witnessed any recurring requests from your clients?

    A. To complete our design work quickly is every client’s request.

    Q. Do you have a preferred colour palette that you enjoy working with?

    A. I try not to be influenced too much by trends as an interior needs to look as relevant today as tomorrow. I avoid cream and beige in favour of white and grey which act as a perfect backdrop to layer in the vivid and vibrant colours I like to introduce. I am into green and pink a lot at the moment though.

    Q. Can you please talk us through the brief that you received for Novotel Hotel & Resort?

    A. The design of our Novotel Resort on the Palm Jumeirah was required to follow the brand tenets of being a casual, contemporary, natural, family-orientated environment with the introduction of some surprising and disruptive elements.

    Q. How do you personally feel that you fulfilled this brief?

    A. We achieved this by using pale and warm resort-appropriate hard finishes and layering in eclectic and fun casual groupings and clusters of colourful furniture, lighting and design elements. The open-plan ground floor area seamlessly flows from arrival, check-in, chill-out, kids play and market-style dining where the guest can browse from station to station. All of these open up via folding and sliding doors onto extensive dining and lounging terraces overlooking a pool and the Arabian Gulf.

    Q. When it comes to hotel design, what do you believe is of utmost importance when it comes to the interior design?

    A. A really well designed guestroom and bathroom which fulfils all you want of it.

    Q. What advice would you offer to those that are considering a career in interior design?

    A. You must be passionate about all fields of design to be an interior designer. I know that sounds obvious but reading, visiting exhibitions, visiting buildings, travelling, fashion, all provide important and rich sources of inspiration.

    Q. What do you believe is the biggest challenge for newly-qualified designers?

    A. The biggest challenge for newly-qualified interior designers is probably to get enough exposure to space planning. This skill takes years of practice to accomplish well and therefore senior designers are reticent to give this task to juniors.

    Q. Do you have any favourite suppliers for your interior schemes?

    A. My favourite suppliers would include Moroso, Muuto, Hay, And Tradition, Kvadrat, Mutina, Arte, Pierre Frey, Verpan and Louis Poulsen.

    Q. What can we expect to see from you over the next year?

    A. We are currently working on the beautiful Blue Amber luxury resort in Zanzibar, a unique and standout concept for a new brand of Jumeirah Hotel, the Vida Hills Hotel public areas on the Emirates Hills Golf Couse, a flagship Novotel Resort on the Palm Jumeirah and Studio Republik, the brand extension for Fit Republik which comprises music, dance and drama studios, fitness activities such as aerial, GX, boot camp and spinning, a rehabilitation centre, health and wellbeing activities and a high-performance personal training facility.

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