Alison Henry, London interior architect and furniture designer, is the new Officine Gullo’s brand ambassador. “I discovered the brand when I was looking for someone to work with to develop my own kitchen in my home in London and I couldn’t find anyone that could create what I was looking for: I wanted a design that was specifically designed to suit the space I was creating with and indoor outdoor space”. Alison Henry tells to IFDM her role as brand ambassador, her house with Officine Gullo’s kitchen, her interior style and the upcoming projects.
You are the new Officine Gullo’s brand ambassador and will be collaborating on the interior design and coordination of the projects, could you explain in detail your role?
I am delighted to be the new brand ambassador for Officine Gullo and to be collaborating on the design work, it is a pleasure to work with the family and their creative team, along with all the various artists and artisans to look at creating some unique bespoke designs to suit the various spaces and locations around the world. I believe Officine Gullo has a huge potential to expand their craftsmanship and innovation into other areas of design not just amazing kitchens, bars and range cookers in private homes but also into hospitality and commercial areas such as bars, restaurants and yachts, with their skill going forward we can work with professional chefs both commercially and in the home.
How did you first discover the brand and what do you like most about Officine Gullo’s products?
I discovered the brand when I was looking for someone to work with to develop my own kitchen in my home in London and I couldn’t find anyone that could create what I was looking for. I wanted a design that was specifically designed to suit the space I was creating with and indoor outdoor space. I didn’t want to be limited with working with standard sizes or a modular system as I was looking to create a personal space that would not only be the heart and soul of my home, where I could have family and friends as well as to be able to have some flexibility in how we choose to entertain, formal or informally at the different times of year and seasons. And also being able to bring in a professional chef or the entire family all to be involved in creating special events and memories.
In your own renovated home, Georgian Villa in Belgravia, there is a Green house with Officine Gullo’s kitchen. Could you describe the project?
The project in Belgravia has been a relatively long and complicated project as we had to go through the process of applying and getting planning approvals for the various design proposals to develop the additional area and also to try to connect the properties. Once we had determined what was possible as there were a number of limitations: one in particular was the very large plane tree in the garden and also my desire to try and preserve the old wisteria that covered the rear of the building and kitchen area. Once we had agreed planning we then had to work out how best to use the space to suit the busy family requirements as I have four girls, all of who had input as to what they all wanted. The kitchen area was very important as this is the heart of the home, therefore I had this idea to create a Green house which was really driven by my desire to have a space that resembled an traditional greenery/glass house which would be where we could escape the bustle of the city and daily life and be together at the end of each day, be surrounded by greenery and nature and almost having a feeling of being in the countryside.
In your Georgian Villa house you chose white colors and white precious materials like Calacatta marble and white furnitures. Which atmosphere and spacial effect do you create with this neutral palette?
As my home is in the heart of London which is a very busy and exciting city I was keen to make my home my sanctuary, and to create a calm and tranquil space that was quite open with the different areas and scheme flowing throughout, with glased doors to break up spaces but still allow the light and visual connection. I wanted to enhanced by the light coming into the building from all sides of the building and in particular to focus on the view out into the secret garden that the property opens out into and to look out at the surrounding greenery and nature. Hence I like using white to keep it clean and in contrast with the greenery of the garden and to then play with the natural finishes and textures of marbles, timber, metals and fabrics, as well as creating further contrast in the light and shadows created during the different lighting at the various times of day and enhance this further with decorative lighting, antique mirrors, Murano chandeliers and antique bagues wall lights.
Your interior projects invoke a sense of grandeur and timelessnes. How do you achieve this atmosphere?
I believe that as you start out on the design for each project you have to get a real understanding of the space and its history as well as the location in the world, as well as understand the clients/owners lifestyle so that you can really create a design that is unique to the individual clients and their requirements. However it also needs to have a balance between being able to work for the individuals and when entertaining and cannot feel like a show house it needs to reflect the clients personality and where you or your guests feel welcome and homely. I also believe in designing once well and less is more, so I would rather that the client gets the bones of the property right before they add the decoration and start adding embellishments.
Which are your future projects as Officine Gullo’s ambassador in Uk and internationally?
We are currently looking a number of private residential projects in London and outside London which have very different looks and feels, which is reflected in the use of materials ie brass and timber work tops rather than nickel and marble. Plus also we are looking at a couple of potential hospitality projects, working with professional chefs kitchens also inspires design ideas and gives us the opportunity to develop new products to complete the Officine Gullo story.
You curated so many private residential and commercial projects in London. How is the Uk and London market? Any Brexit effect? And what do the clients desire most?
I think that the UK market is still strong at the high end with a lot of private residential developments still happening or major refurbishments taking place. The majority of our clients are International and well travelled, plus may have a number of homes both here and overseas so its about working out the design, program and budget to suit the clients requirements. As for Brexit I do not think that has any effect on the interest in quality craftsmanship and innovative technology, however as there are many unknowns at this stage it will clearly be easier once the outcome has been finalized.
You offer a total look projects, with so many services, from the architectural work and interior decoration to custom furnishings made by selected artisans. Are customers ever more in need of a unique figure that takes care of the whole project and fulfills their dreams?
I believe most clients would like to create their own project and come up with their own personal design. However many do some do not have the skill or maybe the confidence so our role is to help to understand what the clients wants, how the space will be used and by who and then to try to interpret their vision. As once they understand the design and what’s possible then they also have the confidence to let us get on and advise on the other services that they require to bring the project together eg architectural, lighting, custom furniture etc.