Designer In Profile: Marco Braghiroli, Director of Prestige Architects – shortlisted in The International Design & Architecture Awards 2017

Name: MARCO BRAGHIROLI  Prestige Architects
Position within company: DIRECTOR

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

I studied architecture in Italy obtaining the Laurea in Architecture at the Politecnico of Milan and studied Interior Architecture at the University of Hasselt in Belgium. After obtaining the full qualification in Italy I moved to the UK in 2000 and I have been a Chartered Architect since 2005. I started working in the UK in 2001 with Traditional Architectural practices on various projects from large residential developments to institutional colleges and in that period, I discovered my passion for private residential projects which has been my focus since early 2003 and I had the opportunity to follow this further with other practices where I reached senior associate level. I was lucky enough to be the architect of many luxury homes in the UK and abroad delivering beautiful buildings, an experience which has fulfilled my desire for beauty without the restriction of institutional committee and only based on a personal relationship with the private client.

How would you describe your personal interior design style?

My “Architect Ego” is more for a contemporary and modern approach with the challenge of integrating the traditional design and existing building envelope but the best way to describe my interior design style is focusing on the Client taste and drive the design based on their requirements: after all is their home and it must reflect this, architects should be like Virgil guiding the Client through the design underworld.

Where does your design inspiration come from?

Everywhere, inspiration is a daily surprise for me. This can come from a book, a magazine, a conversation with a colleague/client, a cup of coffee in a new trendy place getting distracted by the design features, a visit to an old historic building, even a walk around in an auction house can inspire me. I travel on a regular basis and visiting foreign cultures and cities which has influence in my design.

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

I personally feel that as architect and designer we should listen to the final user requirements and ensure that our challenge is focused on that, the key is being able to design a beautiful and practical space where the final user can identify themselves and see the designers soul in it, this is the direction that I personally feel design should always take. It has always been the challenge: find balance between the designer creativity and the client needs. I always say to my clients at the beginning of our journey together that at the end it will feel like they have designed themselves as we should always suggest and not impose design in principle.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2017 and beyond.

• “Innovation with simplicity”. Technology is a wonderful instrument if taken in good balance or the risk is to over complicate everyday life.
• “Implementing the Client brief”. We live and breath design every day and we need to pass on to the client suggestion on material and design to guide them to the final selection, I feel this this one on the key element where the main added value of the process is.
• “Keep the trades alive”. There are still traditional trades which have great passion and are proud of their work but struggling in a global and competitive market, I am always looking to try and nurse them in the UK and abroad and support them in the process.
• “Balance and symmetry in design”. This will allow our eyes to enjoy what you build, sometimes it is better to build slightly less but with equilibrium and my slight OCD plays an important role in this process.
• “Listen”. Always listen to the client requirements and needs, they are the key of your success and the key of their comfort in the building you design.

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?

Fight for quality without compromise, the client might not appreciate it at the beginning but will enjoy and celebrate it at the end.

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

This Awards are very important, they allow designers to confront the live trade and sometimes also get inspired by other designers work to be exposed to a wider public. I come from an environment based on the “word of mouth” so this awards give me the opportunity to celebrate the success of the cooperation with the clients when of course it is not confidential.

What projects are you currently working on?

Currently we have few projects running at different phase of the design and construction : we are completing the amalgamation of two houses in Kensington which is at the last phase on site, I am very excited about this project as the client has embraced our attention to detail and will be ready for publication soon.
We are completing the redevelopment of a house in Knightsbridge where we had to demolish the 1970s unsympathetic interior to reinstate the traditional layout in only 5 months.
We are starting the post planning phase on our basement and mansard extension in St. James of an existing Grade II 7 storey private house.
We are in the last phase of finishing a penthouse in Monaco and at the beginning of the design development for a 1000 sqm Chalet in Switzerland.
We are looking to starting the planning phase for another basement extension in St. James London, a mansard extension in Mayfair and another house in Kensington. It is an exciting time for us.

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

We always focus on the client and with the current and future workload we are growing but I do not want to get too corporate as I am personally involved in each project and a direct lifeline with the client. I feel that the aim and goal of the next 12 months will be to carefully select the projects we want to take on board in order not to stop the enjoyment of the process.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself:
Your most treasured possession?

Family and friends, still seeking for the right balance to enjoy them more.

Your favourite holiday destination?

The Caribbean, I fell in love with the nature and local spirit whilst building a project in Barbados and I always aim to go back when time is available.

Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?

Home House – it’s a beautiful setting and historic building buzzing with exciting people.

Your favourite book / film / song?

I collect all inspirational architectural books from the Maya architecture to the completed projects in Asia.

Your favourite food and drink?

Lebanese with Lebanese wine but my heart is of course in Italian food with a good bottle of Chianti.

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?

A long lunch with family and friends ideally under the sun.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

A designer, I had no alternative wish or desire since I was a child.

Anything else interesting?

I have a passion for natural stone and whenever I can I get lost in stone yards and quarries trying to discover new material to be used and propose in my projects.

 Prestige Architects