James Soane, Project Orange

“I have been impressed by the way Soho House has introduced its own cultural programme.” James Soane

James along with his partner Christopher Ash, is a founding director of Project Orange, a small successful design led studio working internationally on buildings and interiors. He has been developing projects in Moscow, New Delhi and London and specialises in cutting edge hotel design. Some of his recent clients include The Park Hotels in India, Virgin Hotels and Berkeley Homes. He has taught design for years and remains curious as well as critical of much that has been built! The ethos of the studio is to foster eclectic design stories that intensify the brief and deliver valuable spaces and places.

THC: What inspires you and why?
James: Cities. Looking at a map they should all be similar, but the reality is endless diversity. In global terms Europe is a cute little island of historic culture, for the rest of the world, the city is evolving fast. We all need to get our heads around the fact that constant change will be the norm, and that we live in a bubble. Albeit an often beautiful one…

THC: How did you get into your business?
James: I started studying Architecture when I was 19 and haven’t stopped. I am really interested in Education – and when you practice you have to keep on thinking – so we have just published our ‘PO BOX 2’ which is an in house Zine on the subject of drawing and representation….

THC: What are you working on right now?
James: Right now we are 2 weeks away from our ‘Himalayan Rock Garden’ for the Chelsea Flower Show…I am also working on the refurbishment of an extraordinary hotel in Srinagar in Kashmir (India). It was built over 100 years ago and was probably the first Colonial Hotel in India. It needs a lot of work – but will be spectacular.

THC: How do you see your space evolving?
James: For all of us in the studio the space is in our minds – so much possibility, but there are always constraints. Balancing all the perimeters’ is part of what we do, but you cannot stop dreaming. 

THC: Who’s your hero or icon?
James: One of the most amazing modern buildings that I love is the Philharmonie in Berlin by Hans Scharoun completed in 1963. It is so complex yet intuitive with it’s cascading seating and gold roofs. All designed before computers.

THC: Where’s your favourite spot around the world?
James: Galle in Sri Lanka. It is a rarified C17th Dutch Fort, which has survived against the odds. It is a tapestry of old and new buildings, houses and shops. The historic New Oriental Hotel is now the Amangalla – and has the best gin and tonic terraces in the world.

THC: What’s your favourite injection of culture into a brand?
James: I have been impressed by the way Soho House has introduced its own cultural programme. Less of an individual tie up – and more of a rolling programme – part academy part entertainment. They put on a good show.