Name: Dagmar Holub
Company: Designer’s Atelier
Position within company: Founder/ Philosophy Designer
. Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I run a distinctive award-winning philosophy design practice in London for interiors with integrity and meaning.
As a designer I use my background in History and Philosophy to help clients towards a clearer definition of who they are, which I then translate into their environment.
It was a heartbreak that set off a chain of events that was to alter the course of my life.
Finding myself newly single on the property buyers’ market I decided to purchase an apartment in the heart of Bratislava’s old town which took my own journey of self-exploration to the very next level.
I got my father who had built the family house involved which I knew would result in differences of opinions on a variety of issues but this taught me the art of negotiation in dealing with differences that are valid but will not necessarily work.
I loved the process of transforming MY own space in MY own image and it was this project that triggered a career change which resulted in me signing up for an open plan diploma course in interior design and decoration with KLC.
One year in to my interior design course Sir Terence Conran and Philippe Starck judged me worthy of second prize in the One to Watch Mydeco competition. BIDA Review magazine showcased me as runner up in the Il Tempo Abitare competition. Two years later I was one of three winners in Homes & Gardens magazine’s competition and most recently, I was awarded Best of Houzz 2016!
. How would you describe your personal interior design style?
My design philosophy is beyond style, it is based on the philosophical ethos and personality of an individual. When working with clients I am able to capture their essence without imposing my own personal style.
Nature’s energy and power are to be found deep inside the earth in winter. My personal interior style reflects the depth and intensity of the winter personality.
I need a sense of space, I love chrome, glass, mirror, sharp angles, Chinese lacquer, geometric and animal prints, luxuriant fabrics. The contrast is the essence of my personal design style. Just as the landscape in the winter contains virtually nothing but snow white colour with the sudden drama of a tree, my surroundings echo the same concept.
. Where does your design inspiration come from?
As much as I love travelling, real exploration for me is about that journey to the interior, into our own heart. The quote by George Moore saying: “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it,” perfectly describes my design philosophy.
I am strongly inspired by true self-expression in those who brought something unique into this world. I am drawn to unusual and asymmetrical designs and I love contemporary art.
I believe that creating an environment that is an extension of ourselves will serve to tell us who we are, acting as a role model for what we can become.
. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
I feel that design is moving towards a freedom of expression resulting in colours, textures and patterns being embraced again. With new technology, including 3D printing and digital printing becoming freely available, design is only limited to our own imagination.
I feel this new freedom and ‘The Quest for Identity’ is becoming more dominant in design. This is where my role of a philosophy designer can deepen this concept.
You see people uncomfortable in their skin, in their clothes, and in their houses. There is a strong desire for a more personal experience.
What does it mean to feel ‘at home’? In which way is home connected to our personality, to our needs, growth and to issues of safety and security? Being ‘at home’ or ‘not at home’ has become the crucial phrase in our own existence.
. Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2016 and beyond.
1. I believe that among five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2016 and beyond are environmental issues, especially sustainability and environmentally conscious design so the built environment, physical objects and services comply with the principles of ecological, social and economic sustainability.
2. Our lives are fast paced, technology dependant and complex. The use of this technology is changing the design landscape as we know it, developments in 3D visuals and live-streaming now allow clients to participate more directly in the interior design process.
3. In recent years, innovations in social networking such as Instagram, Pinterest to name but a few, have fostered a unique space to connect online, creating communities of people with similar interests and views to unite globally.
4. Advancement in technology is allowing an environmentally friendly and waste reducing lifestyle with appliances that can be powered remotely. Personally I am looking forward to a day where there will be no cables.
5. Personalisation and individuality in design is starting to play an important role as people are searching for a true expression of themselves when it comes to personal items, clothing or their own space.
. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
Designing a home involves more than just drawing plans and choosing colours or furniture as important as this may be, it requires decisions about how the individual wants to live. The emergence of a desire to express ourselves is to be taken seriously because of the financial commitment that ownership involves.
For some, self-expression in any form may not come easily, in my opinion creating a home has nothing to do with how to achieve a specific look or how to emulate somebody else’s style or which new design trend to follow. It is about being fearlessly authentic and living to be your own unique brand without apology.
The most pervasive reason for holding back is the element of risk. “Be careful!”, “Play safe!”, “Know your place!”, “Don’t use that colour!” – is what you are likely to hear in the process of becoming YOU. What if you said yes? Where would it take you?…
. How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
The International Design and Architecture Award is not just an award, it is the indicator of quality and excellence in interior design for creating outstanding, superior and future-oriented designs.
Thank you for short listing our Bedroom Design for ‘The International Design and Architecture Awards 2016’. We completed this bedroom along with another bedroom and a living room area for our Saudi Arabian client in South Kensington, London last September. This design proved so successful with the Houzz community, that it has been added to 64,434 idea books so far.
. What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on ‘The Kaleidoscope Collection’ with an up and coming textile designer Ewelina Mlynarek which launches at Decorex International this year. The exclusive collection of upholstery fabrics, velvet cushions, wallpapers and dinnerware is made in the United Kingdom using the finest materials.
Once again, I would like to thank Design et al for short listing our Kaleidoscope fabric for ‘The International Product Awards 2016’.
Last week I have submitted a design concept for a theme, Famous Place That Never Existed for a ‘Grand Designs Live Room Set Competition’ in Birmingham. The design I chose was based on the 2009 Avatar movie by James Cameron. I am pleased to announce that our design has been selected to be part of Grand Designs Live this October in Birmingham! I can’t wait to see it come to life at the show!
. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
My aim for the next twelve months is to launch ‘The Kaleidoscope Collection’ to the trade sector at Decorex International.
Within the next twelve months I plan to publish a book called ‘At Home in One’s Life’, the approach is a highly visual story showcasing the homes and lives of 12 people from the 20th century with unique self-expression. This book emerged from a monthly meet up group and over the course of a year the idea blossomed into a unique perspective of a philosophy designer on the art of self-expression and what it means to be at home in one’s life.
. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
My 2-year-old son who challenges me to grow daily.
Your favourite holiday destination?
The enchanting village of Indein near Lake Inle in Myanmar is one of the most captivated places I’ve ever been to. The tiny bells hanging from pagodas rang gently out across the land creating the most magical yet peaceful sound. The atmospheric ancient pagodas have carvings of mythical creatures and one can spend many hours exploring the area at the top of the hill which is densely packed with hundreds of stupas both ruined and restored just waiting to thrill your senses.
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
Hotel: Eko-in Temple in Kōyasan, Japan
My favourite Hotel is Eko-in Temple in Kōyasan, Japan which offers Japanese-style accommodation, it is a place like no other. This 1000-year-old Buddhist temple is located on a raised tableland covered with thick forests and surrounded by eight peaks. Winder afield in this beautiful area is the Kōya-san monastic complex which is the headquarters of the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism. More than 50 temples offer temple lodgings which serve Buddhist vegetarian cuisine – no meat, fish, onions or garlic and typically hold morning prayer sessions, the Goma fire ritual and meditation, which guests are welcome to join in or observe.
Restaurant: Agashiye located in The House of MG in Ahmedabad, India
One of the best dining experiences I had in India was at the Agashiye which offers ‘Fine Gujarati Dining on the Terrace’ of their heritage hotel. Spread over two terraces interconnected by a smaller one that houses a wooden cottage, this iconic Thali restaurant not only celebrates Gujarati food, but it has the most varied vegetarian cuisine in India.
Bar: Artesian at the Langham Hotel, London
If you’ve got dinner plans in London make sure you stop off for pre-dinner cocktails at The Langham’s exquisite Artesian Bar as this space is the ultimate source of sophistication. I promise you won’t be disappointed with their menu, Surrealism, which is inspired by ‘Les Diners de Gala’ (‘Salvator Dali’s Rare, Erotic Vintage Cook Book’).
This stunning bar was created by the late David Collins. The award-winning bar takes its eclectic inspiration from the Victorian Cabinet of Curiosities featuring hidden textures as well as details and references including jewelled mirror panelling. With fibrous plaster columns and beautiful ceiling details, the furniture is sheathed in vivid blue next to purple crocodile leather. Bespoke lacquers reference ‘La Chasse aux Papillons’ surrounds an intricately carved Pagoda bar. Artesian is a must see, it has been crowned the “World’s Best Bar“ for the third year in a row as well as the “Most Influential European Bar” in the Cocktail & Spirit Awards.
Your favourite book / film / song?
Book: Nausea by J.P.Sartre
My favourite book would be J. P. Sartre’s first published novel called Nausea. It is a profound fictional exploration of a man struggling to restore a sense of meaning to his life. The book chronicles his life with the realisation that he is an entirely free agent in a world devoid of meaning where he must find his own purpose and then take total responsibility for his choices.
Film: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
I love Holly Golightly and her endless pursuit of self-actualisation in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!
Her story is told within a back drop of 1940s New York City, and written through the eyes of young writer, fascinated by her exquisite and extroverted persona. Holly Golightly signifies glamour, alluring idiosyncrasy, and nonconformity with her free-spirited boldness; yet by the end, much of her subversive potential has been undone.
Song: The Piano Soundtrack by Michael Nyman.
The main theme tune, ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First’ is an exquisite representation of a visual emotional world portrayed in the movie.
Your favourite food and drink?
I love fresh fish, pomegranates for their bitter sweet taste, gin & tonic!
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
I love exploring places I’ve not been before. I love intellectually stimulating conversation and being silly with my 2-year-old son.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Psychoanalyst. I am fascinated by the interaction of conscious and the unconscious mind. The idea that whilst we are completely aware of our conscious mind, the unconscious comprises of mental processes that influence feelings, judgements and behaviours that we are seldom aware of.
Anything else interesting?
I am looking to revolutionise the interior design industry. I want to divert peoples’ attention to what truly matters and give them an opportunity to journey to the core of who they are, bringing about a space that is genuinely theirs, a process that is highly rewarding on so many levels.