Monday, 01 May 2017 00:00

Alix Lawson and Charlotte Robb talk to Inex about their practice, Lawson Robb

    Alix Lawson and Charlotte Robb met when they were studying interior architecture and interior design under the venerable Mrs Duncan at the Inchbald School of Design, London. Both designers’ upbringings had been steeped in design and architectural influences and, after training, they went to work in these fields.

    However, they both soon tired of the creative limitations and founded Lawson Robb in 2003, with a vision “to do things differently”, focused on harnessing a challenging and dynamic, design-forward approach within a timeless setting. Launching their own business at just 23 years old, Alix and Charlotte’s passion for interior design is clear, and they have never looked back.

    Would you say that Lawson Robb as a design house has a design style?

    As a rule, Lawson Robb has no set practice style. We like to challenge ourselves, creating bespoke designs for each client, never using the same design twice and keeping our projects refreshing and interesting for both our clients and our designers. We create couture schemes that are forward-thinking and inspired by the exotic places through our combined love of travelling. We are always sourcing new materials and products from around the globe, in order to steer away from trends and ensure originality.

    What’s the most notable project that the pair of you have worked on under Lawson Robb?

    Each one of our projects is thrilling and challenging, whether we are maximising space within a Knightsbridge town house through disciplined interior architecture and design nuances; converting commercial premises into exciting and elegant residential homes such as our former pub-to-home conversion in Knightsbridge; or working on a large-scale 43,000ft² private home, for example, in the Middle East. Here, clients want to incorporate global design influences yet retain elements of cultural traditions.

    Most recently, we are venturing into the hospitality sector, which is something we have always been interested in and in which our team has global expertise. We are seeing shifting influences between hotel and residential interiors. Our next major hotel project is for El Blok Hotel on Viaques, Puerto Rico, where we have been commissioned to address the FF&E, design a restaurant and bar area and create further bedroom suites for this architecturally-compelling building.

    All information on our previous and up-and-coming projects, including schemes in both London and Dubai, can be found on Lawson Robb’s website.

    What has been both your biggest achievements throughout your careers?

    The greatest sense of achievement is that so much of our work is for repeat clients or through their recommendations. This is confirmation that we have understood the aspirations of our clients and that our designs have left them wanting to see more from us.

    Had you both always wanted to be interior designers?

    We were both brought up surrounded by interior influences and architecture from an early age. It was a natural journey to head into designing interiors for others.

    What was the brief that you received for your Mayfair project?

    The client whom we worked for on this project trusted our expertise and taste, so the brief from this international client was to create something luxurious and sophisticated with our own Lawson Robb twist.

    We entwined nature with furniture – a golden flock of birds catches one’s eye in the corner of the living room and allows natural outdoor light to be dappled around the space. Floral prints, created by one of our designers, are modernised in minimalistic black frames and continue the theme of nature within a city apartment.

    What was the inspiration behind The Lancasters project?

    Lawson Robb won the ‘Best Residential Interior’ at the Bloomberg International Property Awards for our design scheme at The Lancasters, Hyde Park, and this was down to a luxurious, timeless design, sympathetically mixed with classical elements to complement the building’s heritage, interior detailing and facade. Inspiration was drawn from elements of a diverse range of cultural styles to create an ‘international style’. This award-winning interior successfully combines centuries, which is embodied in the lounge area. Lawson Robb makes use of the ample amount of natural light that breaks through the double-height windows of The Lancasters, using neutral tones and satin furnishings that absorb and reflect light around the room.

    Are you witnessing any recurring requests from your clients?

    Regardless of whether in London or abroad, clients increasingly want to bring the outdoors in. Using expert horticulturalists and landscape gardeners, we are creating gardens as extensions of the bathrooms where the plants have therapeutic as much as a sensory effect, particularly lavender, sage or chimonanthus where the velvety tones and scents add texture on many levels.

    This prevails also in shower and bath design, using mirrors to reflect plant life outside, complemented by indoor plants such as palms, nurturing relaxation and rejuvenation by the feeling of being completely surrounded by nature. One example is baths made of treated teak showing knot and grain.

    In our Belgravia project, the spa was placed on the third floor rather than the more common underground hidden spa. This allows for natural light to fill the room through bi-fold doors, reflecting on the glass casing of the shower and steam room.

    We have also noticed that kitchens and bathrooms are taking on a less clinical look and becoming seamless extensions of the principal rooms. Much like in our South Kensington project; our cabinetry is designed more as pieces of furniture so that these spaces blend more cleverly with their neighbouring spaces.

    What was the brief for your Belgravia project?

    This was our second project for this client and we were delighted that they had returned to us to create for them their principal home. The client requested a natural palette; a focus on comfort and living spaces suited both to quiet evenings and formal entertainment. A radical design approach created a ‘wellness’ space with a sauna, steam and gym on the top floor.

    The focus of the living room was to create a space that exudes comfort. The cool beige, grey and soft brown create a tonally-dynamic base for accent colours.

    The bedroom was luxuriously curated with satins, rich cottons and delicate bedside spotlights with muted yet effective tones of silver, bronze and gold, to ensure that the resident’s night sleep is of the utmost comfort.

    Light has been skilfully maximised in the spacious bathroom/sauna with its own balcony overlooking Belgravia. The soft neutral tones of the walls and the marble floor absorb the light while the glass that encases the shower and sauna reflects the beautiful bi-fold windows.

    The soft furnishings of the bathroom coordinate with the terrace, which combines earthly elements of woven wood and ceramic plant pots. Generously-sized candles are encased in silver-topped glass holders to illuminate the terrace at nightfall.

    What was the inspiration behind your project at the Riverside Apartment?

    Our full-scale revision of the Riverside Apartment was the second commission from one of our long-standing clients; to make this Westminster pied-a-terre an ideal bolthole for visiting family. Here, the building’s Brutalist architecture set the tone for interior visual language, the result: a masculine take on contemporary luxury with strong linear minimalism.

    This Riverside Apartment mirrors the fluidity of water through the dynamic drinks cabinet with shimmering blue and gold linear patterns. The cabinet was designed in collaboration with an artist using hand-dyed straw marquetry, a very specialist and time-consuming technique.

    The many textures of this apartment, from marble, oak, hand-crafted upholstery and woven materials embody the sophistication of the Riverside Apartment and add character as well as warmth to the space.

    Can you please talk us through your recent Knightsbridge project?

    The project in Knightsbridge is a development by GrandLane Developments. This former public house is being extended below ground and above roof level and will be transformed into a five-bedroom, 5000ft² luxury home including a cinema room, gym and spa. The period architecture is being retained to the front while the garden addition has seamless glazing and modern urban outdoor terraces. Lawson Robb has opted for a clean and sophisticated style with luxurious detailing. Vertical lines flow across the property, complemented by concealed soft lighting creating a warm glow.

    The cinema and media room encapsulates Lawson Robb’s forward-thinking creativity, with a focus to create a space which looks both playful and glamorous. The enticing drinks bar is curved against the wall, metalicised with antique mirror backing and backlit to provide an ombre effect. The bar is flanked by propeller-style wall lights which are an innovative way of filling wall space. The walls and ceiling are in olive brown suede, providing sound resistance and sensual comfort. The carpet is bespoke, inspired by a gemstone pattern and the chairs – suede-backed and leather upholstered – are in a turquoise mint.

    Is there anyone you would both like to collaborate with?

    Lawson Robb’s focus is to develop collaborations with international aligned brands to create limited edition wallpapers, interior hardware ranges, fabrics and rugs.

    What can we expect to see from Lawson Robb this year?

    This is a very exciting year for Lawson Robb in terms of announcing collaborations. Our first major launch this year will be House by Lawson Robb, a new portfolio of home furnishings designed for developers and private owners with multiple homes, who want the high-level interior design service, without having to commission an interior designer. Our furniture ranges are in development at the moment and will be available to purchase online. This year will also see the completion of a few of our large projects that are in the Middle East and around the world.

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