Name: Therese Virserius
Company: Virserius Studio
Position within company: Owner
Tell us a little about your background in design
I was born and raised in Sweden, so I have a foundation in European design, but I have also been influenced by my years living in China, and by my current home, New York City. I am fluent in Mandarin, which I perfected in Shanghai when I was part of the management team that started the first Ikea in China. My diverse educational and professional experiences have allowed me to appreciate different cultures and provide a unique understanding of the global interior design landscape, while incorporating these elements into my projects.
How would you describe your personal design style?
Exploratory, playful, intriguing, surprising, bold but very elegant.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from the unpredictable journey of life, from meeting people and experiencing moments during my travels throughout the world. Art is also an integral part of all our designs; without it, a space doesn’t feel complete. Even though fashion is more trend-related, I do think it has an impact on design as well. Finally, I draw inspiration from history which, to me, has a bigger impact on design than people realize.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
I am not so keen on the general design sense, since that may not be the best way of having a new, unique and fulfilling experience. I do think being conscious about design in a sustainable way is important for us as human beings. We should feel more comfortable and safe in a space knowing it’s not environmentally dangerous to us. I also think that people want to have more connectivity to the spaces they occupy, with subtle and sophisticated alignment to the local culture, whether through design, food, wine, etc.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2015 and beyond.
1.A smartly organized and planned space
2.Moments of surprise
3.A pop of humor
4.A space that invites you to unwind
5.A space that can invigorate you depending on the purpose.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design, what would it be?
Understand your space, the use of the space from not only an aesthetic value but also an operational necessity.
How important are The International Hotel and Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
I think this award is very important as is gives us an opportunity to acknowledge peers while also getting recognition for all the hard work that goes into designing, planning and executing a project while still staying true to your vision. Everyone knows that it’s hard but fulfilling work!
What projects are you currently working on?
We have a number of hotel projects in Paris, and we are also working with pro golfer Ernie Els on a restaurant project in his native South Africa. We are also working on properties in the Caribbean and several hotels in the US.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
We are working closely with ownerships to develop some new interesting design concepts and in Paris we are looking into repositioning a hotel into a lifestyle concept, which is great fun and a lovely opportunity.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession? I love my Chinese antique cabinet with butterflies on the door fronts that I bought while living in Shanghai.
Your favourite holiday destination? I love skiing so if I am in the US I try go to Vail or Aspen but I absolutely love Italy, just about anywhere and anything Italian, actually!
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar? Capri Palace Hotel in Capri is fantastic. I also really enjoy the people watching at the bar in Hôtel Costes in Paris, it’s quite spectacular. Restaurants are trickier because I am a foodie so I have quite a few choices, it all depends on my mood. I really like Lafayette on Lafayette Street in NYC.
Your favourite book / film / song? My favourite song is ‘What Kind of Fool’ with Barba Streisand. Her voice is just amazing.
Your favourite food and drink? I really enjoy a nice steak and a good red wine.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? A bike ride through the streets of Paris, ending up in a cozy café or art exhibit, then home to cook while having a glass of wine.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? An actress, I think that would be so much fun. Or a singer, since I love to sing.