Name: Guy Oliver
Company: Oliver Laws Ltd
Position within company: Owner / MD
Tell us a little about your background in design.
My parents were always moving, always fixing up old houses. I spend a lot of time as a child going to antique fairs and museums, travelling and reading about decorative arts. I loved to draw and to sketch plans and layouts. I always had a passion for Art and Design. I studied History of Art and History of Architecture at The University of Edinburgh. My first work experience was with Sylvia Lawson Johnston in my native Aberdeenshire working on beautiful Scottish country houses. I went on to a full time position as a trainee director at Colefax and Fowler with Imogen Taylor. There were further studies, I was one of the first students at The Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture all the time supporting myself by taking freelance work with the likes of Paul Dyson (designing wonderful exhibitions and parties at The Royal Opera House and also working alongside my mentor and friend Michael Inchbald). I met David Laws who was looking to retire and I worked and eventually assumed ownership of his practice. All the time reading and studying, I won a scholarship to the Attingham Summer School and became part of a network of those Alumni. In 2006/7, as well as running my practice, I was a consultant to Andre Balazs, not only designing projects with him but also interviewing other designers. It was a fascinating time. My job is my passion and every day I appreciate that I get to do what I love.
How would you describe your personal design style?
Intuitive, understated, inviting, atmospheric, comfortable
Where does your design inspiration come from?
Taste is experience and I absorb a lot through my life, travel and study.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Subconsciously we are all products of our age but good design is always good design.
It should be intelligent, seductive, sometimes whimsical and always inviting. I hope that I am someone who ignores trends and finds solutions that are appropriate to the design challenge.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2015 and beyond.
All design is about creating solutions, to that end it is important to consider:
The ‘story’ you are telling
And, the most important, love your project
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design, what would it be?
Listen, plan, believe in what you are doing
How important are The International Hotel and Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
It can be tempting to live in a bubble. It is important to communicate a project that you’re proud of and for people to see what you can do.
What projects are you currently working on?
Ongoing projects for my favourite two hotels in London.
A new restaurant in Paris for Helene Darroze.
A private residence in London .
A 1937 60 metre Private yacht.
A hotel project in Ireland.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
I am always seeking to improve my skills, I love what I do and I am very lucky to be at a point in my career where projects that I love come to me.
I am a trustee of SAVE Britain’s Heritage and I want to make more people aware of the excellent work of that charity.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
An engraved silver pen that my parents bought me many years ago .
Your favourite holiday destination?
South Carolina / The Outer Banks .
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
The Connaught, Fera at Claridges, The Fumoir .
Your favourite book?
Great Expectations (and the David Lean Film of it).
Your favourite film?
Too many to mention here – Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Dr Zhivago…
Your favourite song?
Right Now Pharrell Williams – Happy.
Your favourite food and drink?
Macaroni and cheese. Fresh Lime Juice with Sparkling Mineral Water (sometimes with Myer’s Rum, sometimes with Cranberry Juice).
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
I love Greenwich. I have spent many an afternoon walking in the beautiful park, the Naval college and the painting collection in The Queen’s House.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Working with UNESCO or working for a philanthropic individual running a foundation / charities supporting education, artisan training, art and culture.
Anything else interesting?
I love sailing and swimming underwater. I also ski and until recently I used to play rugby.
My father’s initial disappointment at my leaving the Royal Navy to become an Interior Designer was once alleviated when I appeared in Rugby World with my team.