Designer in Profile: Claudio Modola, Claudio Modola Architectural Design

Claudio Modola Architectural Design Ltd. have been shortlisted in the International Design and Architecture Awards with their project Bayt Jullanar reaching the shortlist for the Architecture Residential £2.5-£5 Million (property value) award.

Claudio PortraitName: Claudio Modola

Company: Claudio Modola Architectural Design

Position within company: Senior Designer / Creative Director



Tell us a little about your background (education, experience, etc.)

I was born in Switzerland, educated in Southern Italy and Liguria, I moved to Africa in the late 80’s and worked in Somalia, former Zaire, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. I returned to Europe in the 90’s to work in both Devonshire UK and Dordogne, West France, before returning to Kenya and finally; in the last 5 years, commuting between my studio’s in Middle East, Tuscany and Africa.


How would you describe your own personal style?

I would describe my personal style as “ethnic nostalgia” when it is possible, however I enjoy designing across the complete range of style genres. We are currently working on a number of ultra contemporary projects. The client generally gives us a preferred orientation in terms of style which we discuss and will develop from there.


Where does your inspiration come from?

A classical education and a certain collective imagery, probably linked with motion pictures from 1930 – 1950. Exposure to a certain type of palatial architecture as I grew up has also been of significant inspiration, as has my rather nomadic life.


In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?

A good question! The tendency to replicate projects of the same nature and size, in new, large residential areas is a negative factor, we experience today a sort of architectural fast food. On the other hand high profile clients with very little time are often surrounded by modestly equipped counsellors and are accepting of product which could be far more interesting. On the contemporary front or in the “high tech stream” if you prefer, we witness an extreme minimalism which sometimes is at risk of coldness. All depends from the amount of expressive freedom which architects may enjoy in the next 30 years.


Name five key themes to consider when approaching property development in 2014 and beyond.

Environment, Energy, Sense of Legacy, Elegance in all of its forms and Freedom.


If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to development projects, what would it be?

First surround yourself with a good, enthusiastic, professional team, even if it costs a little bit more. The final value of the property will more than justify the design investment. Secondly, trust in the design team you select and allow them a certain degree of creative freedom the results will speak for themselves.


How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?

Immensely they may be the “take off pad” for a young and previously unknown designer. Initiatives such as this interview are also of vital importance as they allow the audience to understand more about the designers; their talents, passions and philosophies, which may not necessarily be communicated through the exhibition of one single project… there is always a lot more to understand.


What projects are you currently working on?

We are working on a small palace outside of Abu Dhabi, a French inspired residence in Dubai, a number of hotel concepts for the Sultanate of Oman and a corporate entertainment villa on a luxury gold course development in Kenya.


What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

The firm will open a new studio in Dubai, UAE and with our established strategic alliances in the region we hope to conquer the opportunity to work on a new previously unseen palatial concept.


Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself

Your most treasured possession?  – My Andalucian horse.

Your favourite holiday destination?  – Our beach house on Manda Island, Lamu Archipelago, Kenya.

Your favourite restaurant?  – La Porta di Sotto, Buonconvento, Siena with the Ital/ Japanese chef Hiro.

Your favourite film? – The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) by Luchino Visconti

Your favourite food and drink?  – Spaghetti No 7 with cherry tomatoes opened by hand, cooked for 8 minutes in a Protea onion fritterer and of course…Belton Belton Oysters 02.

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? (in no more than 25 words).  – A large sofa, a tartan blanket, rain outside and a 1950 Warners Bros. film.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?  – A Haute Cuisine Chef!