“I love the way Selfridges opens itself to a wider culture outside of retail.” Tom Bartlett
Tom Bartlett, an architectural designer, founded Waldo Works over ten years ago and works with partners Sasha von Meister, Andrew Treverton and team across a wide variety of projects including interiors and architecture as well as custom products and furniture. Separately to the studio, Tom consults for Yoo on large scale residential and hotel developments with budgets of gross development value of around $130 million.
His experience covers working across territories including India, Russia, Turkey and the USA. He studied architecture at the Bartlett, and one of his first commercial projects was the London flagship for the royal jeweler Garrard. This was one of his first projects as design partner to Jade Jagger, when she was Creative Director of the brand.
THC: What inspires you and why?
TB: I think people inspire us the most. We try hard to really connect with a specific guest, imagining him or her, what they are like. We find this approach to really defining an imagined individual strengthens our personal approach to designing hotels, which always been fuelled under the premise that hospitality and residential design should have the same approach. The individual who inspired our new Hotel ‘The Laslett’ in Notting Hill, was based on someone interested in the culture of the Portobello in the late eighties and early nineties, and the visual cues that lead to. Ray Petri’s work at The Face Magazine being a particularly strong one.
THC: How did you get into the business?
TB: I always was hanging around the art department at school, and decided pretty early on that I wanted to be an Architect. I studied at Manchester University and The Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL (no relation!). I was very lucky to get a job in-between these two courses working for Justin Meath Baker and Christopher Neville who were interior designers, and thus started the tightrope walk between architecture and interiors that we are all still on today. I worked on my first hotel project there – No 5 Maddox Street. Then, when I developed my house, I decided to start up on my own, and very quickly, very luckily, got asked to do Garrard – then the crown Jeweller – a retail space in Mayfair for Jade Jagger, who I still work with at Yoo on larger residential and hotel projects. My main focus however, is Waldo Works (named after that house where it all started) and we work on numerous small and large-scale projects across the residential, retail and hospitality sectors. We have been lucky enough to build up a portfolio of diverse and interesting projects and clients.
THC: What are you working on right now?
TB: On my desk at the moment I have two new stores in New York for Smythson (Madison Avenue and World Trade Center), a new build house in Kent, an apartment in Hong Kong, houses in Canada and the UK, and a hospitality project in London, although there are other projects in the office at the moment too. We are looking to start producing product in the New Year. It’s busy!
THC: How do you see your space evolving?
TB: Design Offices are always a mess as you are always looking at samples and cutting up boards. I aspire to a huge samples room that would allow us to keep all the clutter somewhere where everything can be viewed at once. I might need an aircraft hangar, as we amass more and more.
THC: Who is your hero or icon?
TB: There are quite a few. There are some we always come back to though – Carlo Scarpa, Barnett Newman, Andrée Putman.
THC: What is your favourite spot in the world?
TB: Standing at the end of the peninsula at Dogs Bay in Connemara in with Inishlakan to your left, the mountains behind you, looking out towards America. I spent a lot of my childhood around there, it still feels like the end of the Earth.
THC: What’s your favourite injection of culture into a brand?
TB: I love the way Selfridges opens itself to a wider culture outside of retail. I think the creative direction there is almost perfect. It is a hugely engaging and generous programme. We find this approach to really defining an imagined individual strengthens our personal approach to designing hotels, which has always been fuelled under the premise that hospitality and residential design should have the same approach.