Name: Nick Farnell
Company: NFA Architects Ltd
Position within company: Design director
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
Design for me is a vocation, it combines the love of design and the ingenuity in finding solutions. I am a qualified architect with over 25 years of experience and have worked across many sectors and produced inspired building solutions for many clients spanning different building types from high-end gym to spas, Theatre to home cinema, Crown Court to Schools and Hotels to Homes.
NFA Architects Ltd was formed in 2002 on the success of the highly acclaimed Third Space Health Club in Piccadilly, London, which won ‘The Best health Club in the World, presented by British Airways. We are an established and experienced practice formed of a senior director with dedicated architects, designers and technologists based in Kent and serving Central London. Within our team we enjoy the creative process and the satisfaction of delivering client focused site sensitive designs.
For us the collaborative approach we take with our clients is the key. Firstly, understanding their wishes, then the site conditions, and finely creating an imaginative solution that delights our clients as they see the process from inception through to completion. We understand the importance of creating a dedicated team to support and develop each project. Our practice is architect lead creating a focused design inspired philosophy that benefits the project and ultimately the client.
How would you describe your personal design style?
It is NFA Architects Ltd’s commitment to each and every client to deliver the best possible solution within the limits they chose to impose. NFA Architects Ltd craft our designs and nurture the initial concept to develop well considered projects that leave our clients delighted. By our nature we lead clients through the process making it as enjoyable as possible. Often we find clients chose to return or introduce friends as they have enjoyed the process so much and the working relationship developed through it.
Enthusiasm and positivity drive the office. The love of creating and the appreciation of the client helps to sustain the high levels of energy and determination to get the project through the many stages. A close knit team is essential to delivering the high standard of work required and being part of an encouraging, creative and busy team means all aspects of our work benefits.
The key to our success in the residential sector is designing the big architectural moves that will create amazing spaces while crafting a richness of form and functionality that are personal to the spaces enjoyed by the client. Our approach is bespoke to each project and keeps the design process fresh.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
Our inspiration is varied as it begins with the client and their aspirations for their project. NFA Architects Ltd are contemporary designers but our methods are fluid enough to tailor to the client not impose a style or ideal on a person. We also look to the context for inspiration, sometimes this means working sympathetically with the context and sometimes working in contrast. It is this fluidity that produces sometimes unexpected but always beautiful designs appropriate to the individual constraints of each project.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Generally I see design becoming a balance between what is readily available in terms of product and the need to specify responsibly in terms of green issues and practices. Great design needs to flourish yet it needs to be sustainable. It us up to us as designers to lead the way, to set the bar as high as possible and to attain these goals. After all we need to provide a legacy that can be built on in the future.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.
Keeping up to date of current trends is vital as NFA Architects Ltd clients have high standards and expect the best from us, however our view is that great design does not necessarily come from being ‘on trend’ rather from an appreciation of space, light, place, time and people. Often it is the constraints that lead ultimately to the best designs as finding solutions rather than compromise challenges the designer to create better more considered architecture.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
The key to achieving the very best for a client is to understand more than the brief, the client themselves, to combine both needs and desires and ultimately delivering more than the client first imagined possible.
How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
They are very important as they set a high benchmark for all designers to aspire too. The opportunity to be even shortlisted is an honour. Clients do like to know that their designers are respected and of high quality.
What projects are NFA Architects Ltd currently working on?
Two large projects in Cadogan Square, An amazing apartment in Marylebone, A penthouse apartment and a refurbishment of a property in Notting Hill, plus two commissions on the island of St Kitts.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
We are seeing a rise in worldwide clientele purchasing in London and NFA Architects Ltd aim is to grow with this influx building the office base behind us and creating stunning projects
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your most treasured possession?
It is a difficult question however my handmade American classic Tom Anderson hollow drop top T style guitar is beautifully made with Swamp Ash on Alder with a Maple neck, pure joy.
You’re favourite holiday destination?
Any City worldwide that has a vibrancy and culture unique to its locale, Barcelona and Rome are two favourites
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?
Hotel : W Barcelona. A unique hotel with its amazing suites with incredible views, a Michelin starred restaurant plus many dining areas and a recording studio.
Restaurant : Mullins, Margate old town, for its modern European cuisine with a hint of the Caribbean.
Bar : The Tap Room Margate for the beer and the incredible eclectic regulars.
Your favourite book, film & song?
Book : Douglas Adams Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. The funniest book I have ever read and one I go back too now and again for a chuckle.
Film : Gladiator by Ridley Scott, an epic of giant proportions epic and enigmatic cinematography.
Song : I have a large collection of over 35,000 songs, so it is difficult to single just one out, but if I had to choose something : Get Yourself Together by The Black Keys.
Your favourite food and drink?
Food : I love Italian, however, due to work commitments in St Kitts I have grown to adore Caribbean spicy food. Comforting with a hint of spice.
Drink : I adore a Margaux or St Emilion Grand Cru, who doesn’t.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Walking on the beach with my dog. We are lucky as we have many blue flag beaches on our doorstep.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
A struggling musician most likely.
Anything else interesting?
Illustrator for art and architecture books. An avid guitar and art collector. Love live music and wearing Herrman hats.