Designer in Profile: Robin Dunlop, ALTEA

Boeing Business Jets & ALTEA have been shortlisted for Interior Design/VIP Completions Award in The International Yacht & Aviation Awards 2020. Read more about ALTEA Founder & Partner, Robin Dunlop, below:

Name: Robin DunlopAltea

Company: ALTEA

Position within company: Founder & Partner


Tell us a little about your background in design:
I went to the only university (at the time) that understood the combination of engineering and design, form follows function. I enjoyed myself a little too much at Brunel University in London and graduated in Industrial Design & Engineering, over 25yrs ago now – eeek. I then went on to work at British Airways in their design department, such a department in an airline was unheard of in the early 90’s. I stayed in the airline arena for around a decade which then led me to business aviation and all that goes with it.

How would you describe your personal design style?
Of course, I have a style I like and want within my own personnel space, but I never inflict that on a client – we listen and visualize what comes to mind from those short but personnel moments when meeting clients. Listening to how they might want to utilize a space and what their habits are. Maybe they have a style they want us to take inspiration from and develop to be their own, rarely does a client not have any creative idea of what they want. They might initially think that but when you discuss with them you usually find they have a favored approach – it’s our job to pull it all together and visualize and develop it to become unique and their own.

As for my own style and taste – love a bit of scandi simplicity which is a good design classic to take inspiration from.

 Where does your design inspiration come from?
I could get all chimerical, but the facts are simple, quite often the client will say something and then it will set off a series of ideas and it just evolves. That to me is true creativity, allowing your brain to build on and on and visualize and express your interpretation. Other than that, a great day mountain biking in the alps or a long cycle through the Surrey hills will usually get my brain and creativity fizzing.

 In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Sustainability. It’s got to. We can’t go on like we are so we will have to innovate. I have faith in designers and engineers around the world. We can make it happen we need the policy and decision makers to lead it.

 Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond. 

  1. Keep going, you know what makes sense, make it happen.
  2. Use good judgement, keep your integrity.
  3. Be clever, witty and natural.
  4. Keep it simple.
  5. If you are going to overindulge see 1-4.

 If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
Be as imaginative as you can, inspire your client but don’t be ostentatious it looks ridiculous.

How important are The International Yacht & Aviation Awards?
It’s good to share and showcase many designers’ long hours and burning of the midnight oil in order to deliver beyond expectations. We deserve it.

What projects are you currently working on?
We have actually been working on some residential projects which is new to us. However, my colleagues are also working on several aviation prospects at the moment which is heartening given the situation everyone has been through in the last 6 months.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Simple – win more projects, I love being in the thick of a project, working hard, being creative, inspiring clients, solving issues with good design. Seeing the final result, it’s all totally worth it.

 Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Keep going, have faith that you are making a difference. Win over those elusive clients. Enjoy the journey, it’s certainly not about the destination.

 Your most treasured possession?
My bikes. My skis.

Your favourite holiday destination?
Austrian Alps – fresh snow, mountains, fresh air, adrenaline of skiing hard. It’s also fantastic in the summer.

Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?
Recently stayed at the Belmond Cadogan hotel in London – exceptional.
Adam Handling’s restaurant in Chelsea is very good too. Not much of a bar person.

Your favourite book, film & song?
I never use to read a lot, but I do now, love a sports biography and a Jack Reacher novel – nothing too deep. Films, I have a few favourites depends on what mood I’m in but recent watches that I really enjoyed are: Yesterday and Rocketman. Songs – again it’s a mood thing, I generally listen to all sorts, currently listening to Nick Mulvey.

 Your favourite food and drink?
Any – I eat a lot, ask my wife who has to feed me. Love a good curry though with beer obviously and recently found a good English white wine – not telling anyone the name though as you’ll all want it.

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
With my 8-year-old son doing anything he chooses – childhood doesn’t last long.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Richer probably – I tell our interns you don’t do this job to make money, you do it because you love it.

Anything else interesting?
I’m a farmer’s son – how on earth did I get here?

Boeing Business Jets & ALTEA have been shortlisted for Interior Design/VIP Completions Award in The International Yacht & Aviation Awards 2020.

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