Our design director oversees the look and feel of new Soho Houses, from Amsterdam to Mumbai. Here’s what her day planner looks like
I manage a team of 22 people, and at any one time we have maybe 18 projects on the go. So at the start of the week I like to stay in the office, getting up to speed with what everybody’s working on. There’s no strong hierarchy between us, and we don’t like to be too formal. We don’t have time to be, for one thing. I value direct communication and try to
keep emails to a minimum – it’s better to just get on with things. As the week kicks off I also spend time with director colleagues and Nick Jones especially if he’s in the office. He’s always so involved in design, from concept to completion and prototype reviews, that face-to-face time is essential.
Around half the pieces you see in Houses are vintage finds from markets and the other half are bespoke. The bespoke pieces are carefully designed to fit the aesthetic of the House, and I work closely with Soho Home so its ranges stick to the design touchstones of the key pieces in that House. From the new Dean Street collection, which has classical Georgian influences, I love the Margot footstool – it’s so versatile and we use it everywhere. On Tuesdays I often visit the factories and warehouses of our bespoke suppliers to see how they’re getting on – but as my mum was an antique collector and dealer, the vintage rummaging part of the job has a special place in my heart. We take a bunch of cash and a truck follows us from trader to trader as we hunt down the best pieces. Even if the concept of a room or space in a House or club is firmly figured out, uncovering that lucky find, something that catches my eye or touches my heart can alter everything.
Soho House Amsterdam is opening later this year, so right now I spend one day a week there. We have five designers living in the city full-time, which is really special and something that other design studios simply can’t do. The building itself is very well known locally, treasured even, and is a distinctive blend of the Amsterdam School and Art Nouveau, meaning there are lots of architectural details that are monumental, and that we simply can’t touch – not that
we would anyway. We like to employ local suppliers and craftspeople wherever possible. Not long ago I found a pair of vintage table lamps for the reception that are so perfect I’ve literally had dreams about them.
Obviously, my job involves a great deal of travelling. On long journeys, for instance to our Hong Kong or Mumbai sites, I try to take afternoon flights to minimise disruption. That’s a good time to catch up on the admin side of my job; budgets, timelines, schedules and so on. But my favourite activity, whenever I get the chance, is making mood boards while listening to music, utterly immersing myself in a scheme. Every House is different and in the early stages I’ll be weaving together the history of the building, the feel of the surrounding neighbourhood, and cultural references taken from books and movies.
Later in the week I try to fit in a market or two. We love the one at Kempton, just outside London, but also visit markets in the south of France from time to time, or Italy. The vintage world is quite tight and we’ve developed great relationships with suppliers. They love to sell antiques, after all, and we love to buy them. If I’m in London, Friday is also the perfect opportunity to socialise with the team. We’re always exchanging ideas and images via our WhatsApp groups during the week, but there’s no substitute for pizza and wine.
Saturday is still a working day, especially during busy periods like now. But the timetable is definitely more laid-back. I like to enjoy a long brunch with my husband and ideally we sneak out and visit a gallery or exhibition. I’m originally from Budapest and I’ve lived all over the place, but London is somewhere I really appreciate and enjoy taking full advantage of.
It might sound really boring, but because my working week is all about travel and late nights, when it comes to Sunday I cherish the simple rituals. I love to relax by watching movies, doing a little sport and – now the weather is improving – jumping in the car and exploring a different town or village somewhere in the UK. Travelling, even locally, gives you a real sense for tone and I love the fact that my job lets me work across so many different cultures and cities.