The world for the London-based architectural and interiors firm David Collins Studio is defined by its signature approach, developed and refined over the last three decades. The collective expertise of the team at the Studio is evident, in every aspect of this luxurious world.

The Continental


Simon Rawlings has created his niche by leading the team creatively. The firm has won prestigious awards under his leadership. He is a visionary and loves to innovate creatively. He heads as the Creative Director of David Collins Studio, the renowned London-based interior architecture and design studio.

The Luxe Interiors


The Wolseley, The Connaught Bar and Harrods Shoe Heaven in London, Condé Nast’s VOGUE Lounge and The Ritz-Carlton Residences at MahaNakhon in Bangkok, and The Delaire Graff Estate in South Africa are some of the prominent projects, where David Collins Studio has left their indelible design signature. They are also instrumental in the store roll outs of renowned Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo and Prêt à Manger.

Simon Rawlings talks to Johnny D about the Continental Project in an exclusive interview.

Johnny D: Please tell our esteemed readers about David Collins Studio.

Simon Rawlings: We are the only luxury design studio designing across all sectors, and around the world. Our 30+ years of experience ensures our creativity, efficiency, competitiveness and being successful in the UK.

Immaculate Design Creations


JD: What are the current projects the Studio is working on, in various cities and countries?

SR: We are currently working on 26 projects across the globe – in Melbourne, Bangkok, Hua Hin, Hong Kong, Doha, London, Milan and New York, to name a few.

Cozy and Comfort


JD: What was the brief of the project?

SR: The brief for ‘The Continental’ was, to take the wonderful existing architecture created by Thomas Heatherwick and work with it, to create an all day modern dining experience, with subtle reference to the brasserie format and grand café experiences of Europe. The essence with visibility, buzz, bustle, and feelings of casual, special and spacious splendour was designed to enhance the brief.

Sparkling Illumination


JD: Please share with us an interesting anecdote during the first Client – Designer’s Meeting.

SR: We actually filmed one of our meetings. We set the table for lunch and the chef patron Rowley Leigh, the MD of Swire Hotels Brian Williams and I discussed what it takes, from design to service and food, to create a great restaurant.


plan 2

JD: What were the major challenges faced by you, while designing the space?

SR: The wonderful original ceiling created by Thomas Heatherwick in ribbons of steel could not be re-finished, touched or have anything fixed to it, so standard elements such as smoke detectors, which generally get hidden in a ceiling, all needed complex solutions.

The Bar


JD: How did you overcome them creatively? Please elaborate.

SR: As with all design challenges, you have to just embrace them and reassure yourself that once the final project is complete, all will come together – as the aim with any design is to create a wonderful atmosphere of complementary elements.

Lighted in Perfection


JD: What were the design elements, incorporated in the project? Please specify briefly the reasons behind it.

SR: The two main stand-out items for me are the suspended lights and the colour. The lights have been designed, so that they are sculptural by day, catching the sunlight which streams into the room, and twinkle by night. They never feel like lights, which are off in the day. The colour took a lot of time to perfect, the tone needed to be uplifting by day, and by night, shift to a rich green.

Comforts of Fine Dining


JD: How would you define the elegance in your design?

SR: Elegance comes through refinement, proportion and quality.

Lighting Fixtures


JD: What was the time-period taken by your firm, from the designing stage to completion of the project?

SR: Around 12 months.

A View of the Seating


JD: What was the total area of the project?

SR: The restaurant measures 324 square metres and has a total of 185 covers.

Bar Elevation

12 bar elevation

JD: Every designer leaves behind their signature style in each project they design. What is your Signature Style?

SR: Our style is more a feeling. We create a signature feeling, which I hope when you enter a David Collins Studio space, customers know they have arrived somewhere, which has had a lot of thought put into it.

Magnificent Splendour


JD: According to you, what is the most important factor a designer should always remember while designing the interiors? Please state the reasons.

SR: Always remember that a space has to be used, no matter what it is. It’s so important that a room functions for the staff and the users – this is the most important element in interior design.

Sparkling at Night


JD: Elaborate the reasons behind the use of specific lightings in the project.

SR: Light creates drama, interest, sexiness, theatre and can completely make or break an interior. A lot of collaborative work needs to go into the process of lighting during the design process, and we always carefully consider this from day one.

Lighting Detail


JD: How would you define Simon Rawlings as a professional and a person?

SR: I think I am pretty much the same, no matter what I am doing. I am very particular, not fussy, but know what I like. I love quality. I respect how quality is achieved and how much hard work goes into it. I am very much inspired by the people around me, both personally and professionally.

A Close-up


JD: Describe the feelings when your designed project wins an award in the international scenario.

SR: It’s a confidence boost – it’s so pleasing to know that somebody out there appreciates the hard work.

Restaurant Elevation

17 restaurant elevation

JD: Please mention the 5 major awards won recently by David Collins Studio.

SR: They are as follows:

  • Prix Versailles for Alexander McQueen Paris
  • The World’s Best Bar, Spirited Awards for The Connaught Bar
  • Best Restaurant Certificate of Excellence, A&D Trophy Awards for The Continental
  • The Best Overall Experience, GQ Food & Drink Awards for The Wolseley
  • The Best Cocktails, Tatler for The Continental

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