I've worked for Soho House for almost 20 years. After university, I moved to London and started out waiting tables at Cafe Boheme, then worked on film festivals and events. After that, I relocated to New York and opened Soho House New York. I've now been running design for about eight to 10 years.
The first project I worked on solely was the Soho Beach House Miami bedrooms. We collaborated with Martin Brudnizki on the public spaces - James Waterworth, Head of Creative, worked for Martin at the time in our office in New York, and we did the bedrooms and public spaces together. So that was the first one, and Soho House West Hollywood. Waldo Fernandez was the initial designer who started it, and I finished it. I've worked on all our American Houses.
Every project has different deadlines and deliverables, so you focus on one at a time. You get absorbed in that, then move on. We have 86 people in design and development, and I spend time with them all. The three biggest projects that we're working on are: Soho House Barcelona; renovating the Berlin apartment for September; and in the US, we're starting to look at Cecconi's in Brooklyn - that's a big one. And we're doing a lot of private homes, which is what more of my time is spent on.
Private homes are incredibly different; the clients come to us because they want the Soho House aesthetic. But you have to make it right for that family or whoever lives there, so it's not a cookie cutter thing. Someone's home is so much more personal. There's the obvious stuff such as not worrying about minibars, but there's also a different level of comfort - it's fascinating. Most of the homes we've worked on have been total gut renovations - everything from coat hangers to pots and pans, curtains, paint colours, and bathroom tiles. Of course, there are personal bits here and there, and that's important because it makes the home theirs.
Each project always starts with the building or the space. Whether it's a new build or something that we're renovating, a lot of time is spent looking at the light and the finishes. We document things that are already there, so we get to know the bones of the building. Then you're thinking about who's using the space. If it's a family, you want as much information from them as possible about their lifestyle and how they want it to feel when it's finished. If it's a club or a restaurant, you're still thinking about the customer and what kind of experience you want them to have. Are they going to be using it all day? Is it comfortable? If it's a restaurant, what kind of food will be served? Is it more of a cafe or a fine-dining experience?
From there, we use mood boards to get the initial look and feel. Then, we focus on the finishes, and that's done digitally. We use Pinterest and Tumblr blogs, and also have a big image bank that we trawl through. With Berlin, we've been looking at fabrics for inspiration - a lot of 1970s colours. In Ludlow, we found some amazing 1940s Chinese deco rugs, and those colours were really the inspiration for one of the rooms. It can come from anywhere and then you start to build what that is with mood boards to really plan the room.
I think the Soho House style is evolving currently. We've always mixed 'the grit and the glamour', worn but comfortable, like velvet and brick - that's kind of our look. But we've just done two properties - Ludlow and Malibu - where the buildings have been so different to what we've done before that we've had to really look at the design. I work with young talented designers who are always trying to think outside the box, which is inspiring, because nobody wants to do the same thing all the time. But there is that recognisable 'home from home' feel whichever House you're in. I think it's because the same people have been doing it for 20 years, so subconsciously we're all doing it together. And Nick, of course, who's using it, who's the client.