“I see interiors becoming even more diverse, and good design has a lot of emphasis on storytelling and meaning.“
THC: What inspires you and why?
JS: I do not necessarily look for inspiration. I am an observer and I find inspiration from day to day things, whether that be watching people or looking at art. A few particular things that inspire me constantly are good manners and graciousness.
THC: How did you get into this business?
JS: I trained as an architect and after graduating I worked for Tom Dixon and we landed our first hotel project in London, now called Sea Containers. It was my first hotel project and I did the main public areas. After that I was offered my current position to design the Pulitzer in Amsterdam and now I focus most of my attention on Hospitality and I would not change a thing!
THC: How do you see this space evolving?
JS: I see interiors becoming even more diverse, and good design has a lot of emphasis on storytelling and meaning, this results in a more truthful outcome. On the downside I also see some interior design becoming more wasteful and how trends can be at the core of some projects. That never has any longevity.
THC: What role does the neighbourhood play in your designs?
JS: It is KEY. It gives you some background and context that is very important for places like hotels. Hotels tend to be cornerstones for communities so understanding how it works is very, very important.
THC: What’s your favourite place and why?
JS: I have many and I often change my mind depending on my mood. Some of my favourite places include the Sir John Soane house museum in London. I am a collector and architect too, although we are a few centuries apart, and I just love to see all of his interests and passions on display. Times may change but it shows the importance of having an interior that matches your own personality. Other favourite places: Kensington Gardens in London (history and peace in the heart of London), Hillwood Museum in DC (amazing history and collection, and a time capsule 50’s kitchen), Gibbs Farm in New Zealand (breathtaking landscapes and extraordinary art and sculpture),
THC: Is there an individual who inspires you at all?
JS: There are several, for different purposes. It is less about their style but more about their attitude and character and motivations. They range from her Majesty the Queen for her style, grace and manners, through to designers like Yves Saint Laurent (imagination, storytelling).
THC: What role does culture play in the planning process?
JS: Culture is always key, and it is important to understand what makes us different from one another and also what makes us similar. Travelling is a massive eye opener for this. It is important to see other cultures not as a comparison to yours (this often leads to “who is better” etc), but instead see it as something different but equally as important to yours.
Photo credit: Greg Powers