In discussion with Edward Davies, G.A Design London’s MD
G.A Design is part of the award-winning multidisciplinary practice G.A Group, established for over 32 years, located in London, Budapest, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai. We are delighted to catch up with the managing director of G.A Design London, Edward Davies, who shares his thoughts on design’s impact in today’s global hospitality and luxury residential market.
Edward you’ve been with G.A Design for 16 years, when did you first realise you wanted to work in design?
When I was in junior school my strongest interests were in Art and then I added to this with Design and Technology when moving up to senior school. My older brother is an artist whom I have always looked up to but I didn’t want to do that myself. I looked around at different creative routes from Architecture to product design trying to figure out the best direction.
What does a typical day at G.A Design look like?
It is usually very busy! If I am in the office, my time will be split between management and design meetings. I’m lucky that I have a very strong team of designers and project managers behind me, so I get to be the annoying person who comes in towards the end and tells them to move everything around and swap out furniture and finishes.
As a lot of our projects are international, a typical day can also include dashing to the airport for client presentations and site reviews, laptop in hand, attempting to fire off one last email before the wireless cuts out!
G.A Design’s philosophy is one of ‘Restless Curiosity’. How would you say this is reflected in project planning?
We ask a lot of questions at every stage. First to the clients, to gain a deeper insight into what their needs are and what they want their guests to experience, to feel. Then we continue to ask questions within the design process. How do we do this differently? How do we create something new? Is there a better way to do this?
How do lifestyle trends influence interior design in your opinion?
Some lifestyle trends have certainly changed what a guest expects from a hotel experience. It is less about what the designs look like and much more about how guests want to interact with the design, whether this be through a layer of social media collaboration, unique experiences they can add-on for a bespoke journey, or a bigger focus on the public areas as an extension of their room.
Does a project’s geographic location influence hospitality design?
More often than not it does. At G.A we always strive to create designs that resonate so we look at ways to merge people with place and culture. The experience has to feel authentic. Different Geographical locations also means different cultural influences. Our most recent project, the Belmond Cadogan Hotel, is located in Chelsea. The original hotel has such a rich history and connection to that particular borough of London that any design ignoring this would have failed to strike the emotional chord required for meaningful design.
When it comes to electrical wiring accessories what’s most important to a client, flexibility of design, finish options or tech?
Can I say all three? It’s hard to place importance of one element over another. Most clients want a bespoke look, so the first two are key, but without the tech to support the look it’s all for nothing anyway! However for hotels ease of use is the most important thing.
What are the deciding factors when it comes to planning finish details?
For every project we work on we create a narrative or story for it. This is something that helps drive all the decisions for the space, from furniture style, influences of colour and shapes to choosing brass or sanitaryware. This then is the driving factor for design of any of the items that are used.
Have you observed major changes in residential interior design during the last five years?
We are lucky enough to work on a number of different opportunities around the world and every project is very unique depending on the client, team and location. Currently there seems to be three distinct directions, one being to really develop the lifestyle feel of a project and to work hard to create a more approachable but still luxurious feel for properties. The second is to work really hard on the uniqueness and luxury offer through detailing and level of finishes. With the third trying to fully understand how sustainability can play an integral part in anything and everything we do. These are all very different directions to be added to the table and are exciting to work on.
Design doesn’t stand still. How will the G.A Group ensure it continues to stand out?
We have always aimed to create timeless designs and generally try to avoid trends. Despite this, technology and market demands do advance so it has been imperative to understand how the hotel industry has changed. As previously mentioned, the experience in its totality is paramount to the modern guest which is why we often work alongside our branding division to produce integrated designs that cover every aspect of the guest’s journey.
Please visit G.A Group and discover more about the company’s international design services.
Focus SB’s project portfolio features the Belmond Cadogan Hotel.
Images supplied by G.A Design.