1) What inspired you to become an interior designer and start your own company?
Nini: Design has born with me and I have been pursuing my passion over the years. I used to say that I don’t have a job. I have a project of life. My life is my career. I love interior design because I love creating new realities and feelings and my job allows me to put a bit of myself in each project I create. My designs come from the soul – what I feel about the place at that moment. This means that my emotion will be translated into the design.
Every project is a huge challenge for me and a huge responsibility, grabbing it with all my strength and dedicating myself completely regardless of size or function. Projects are always unique and very important.
I like to create the wow factor in the guests surprising with my design
RH + Arquitectos: RH + Arquitectos was founded 11 years ago, in 2007, resulting from a partnership between Roberto Castro and Hugo Gil Jesus. Our team seeks consistency and aims to embrace new challenges that enrich the architectural design and heritage.
2) Talk us through the design concept of the new Savoy Palace, Madeira
Nini: Classic and timeless, the interior design of the Savoy Palace Hotel is influenced by a recent period in world history known as “Belle Époque”, reborn in complete harmony with the culture resources of the island, in an enthralling journey between today’s natural and intangible heritage. It brings together a number of elements: the exuberance of the surrounding landscape, the unique man-made environment, particularly the old irrigation channels (levadas) and tunnels, the excellence and mastery of Madeira’s embroidery, the centuries-old art of wickerwork and the expertise involved in the production of one of the best fortified wines in the world – Madeira Wine. Together these unique features underlie the metamorphosis between the conceptual inspiration and the finished interior design.
RH + Arquitectos: We were also inspired by the old Savoy hotel in what regards chromatic aspects and details such as the classic marble at the reception pavement.
3) What is your design process, how are your ideas brought to life?
Nini: Design comes from the soul. My designs are tailored bearing in mind each project’s functional and aesthetic needs. To goal is undoubtedly the eternal search for the essence, whether the site, the materials, the theme, the target audience, etc … The mixture of different types of materials and types of pieces in its account can be a recipe to draft up a project and succeed. The place for every project is certainly inseparable from the project itself and it means to create atmospheres with a soul. Nevertheless, a project always creates their own roots, their own spot their own feeling sometime in a subtle way but always there.
RH + Arquitectos: At RH+, we intend to ensure the best design, rigour and excellence in our projects. We are led by the ambition of providing solutions that meet our clients’ needs and aspirations with the final objective of exceeding their expectations, always maintaining a daily communication and analysis of the details of each project.
4) What makes the Savoy Palace a luxury design? What specific touches have been added to enhance this design aesthetic?
Nini: Savoy Palace is a unique Hotel! Entering this hotel will be like entering a poetic world, where colour, textures and iconic ornaments and objects are all important. The interiors are inspirational for its elegance and comfort sublimated to details, expressed in the quality of materials, the perfection of finishes, the softness of textures, the richness of decorative features and all the interior design project itself.
5) Do you have a signature style, and how did you incorporate this into the final design?
Nini: I look to be ahead in time and my design comes from what I feel about the place at that moment. I use to say that I don’t follow trends, I seek to create them, that why some call to my design as Ninimalism Style. Everything in our projects exudes quality and passion; the greatest of attention, bordering on obsessive, has been paid to every single detail, and this is my signature design style.
6) What are you favourite rooms that you designed and what makes them stand out?
Nini: The different rooms and suites are all very special, being very comfortable and exclusive. I believe that what makes them stand out is the quality of materials and textures, and the exclusivity of this unique environment. We have created environments for living and conviviality, and others which are cosier and more intimate, suitable for rest and relaxation.
7) Were the any challenges you faced when designing for the Savoy Palace?
Nini: The main challenge of this project it was to combine a visual interplay that balances the language of the building itself with the voluptuousness of its interior.
8) Do you work closely with the architects to establish the overall design vision?
Nini: Is essential to develop a work in tune with the architecture, because only in this way you achieve great final results, but the overall vision of the interior design, that is, the creative concept, is a process that is developed from the inside out!
9) You are one of the most prestigious interior designers in the world, in your opinion how has interior design evolved, and is it important to continually think of new design ideas?
Nini: Over the last few years we have seen the market developing and consolidating the role of Interior Design.
The recognition of the importance and competitive advantages of the Interior Design, created deep changes in the consumer market and dictated the tendency of the demand verified worldwide. This need reflected on the market determines that the current value proposition given by Interior Design – based mainly through the sustained development of a concept – makes the role of interior design much more important in any business area.
10) Talk us through the design for the Savoy Palace and the bold, curved structure?
Saraiva Architects: The curved shape was designed not only to make an impact but also to answer the brief for the development of this site: a large construction area capable of providing luxurious private spaces and indoor comfort solutions. Another important feature was the relationship with the surrounding ocean, that is reflected in the elevation, endowed with wide glass panels, enhancing the large interiors facing south. We, architects, are constantly being influenced by what is around us, and Oscar Niemeyer – and his Copan building in São Paulo – were undoubtedly an architectonical reference.
11) What was the inspiration behind this design?
Saraiva Architects: If we join two fixed points, we are able to measure a distance. If we slightly curve the line, we will increase the distance and, therefore, we will be able to accommodate a higher number of modules and, consequently, a higher number of hotel rooms. Geometry is a passionate subject in architecture. For instance, if we are willing to take this matter further, Einstein was led to a static universe of spherical spatial curvature!
12) How challenging was this design to achieve?
Saraiva Architects: Our creative process is developed through synergies with clients, surpassing the simple provision of services, and this was highly important in Savoy. In this project, we had to convince the client that our design was a good design in all it matters. Even if it caused financial or other structural constraints.
After all, confidence is the result of a virtuous cycle of effort is fundamental and while designing this project, we looked forward to getting the best possible development.
13) What for you are the most important aspects to consider when designing?
Saraiva Architects: Architecture must be functional. As we understand the impact of architecture on contemporary society, all of our projects incorporate values that can perpetuate those built environments in time. Designing means effectively delivering a holistic service that puts comfort, functionality, security and aesthetics at the centre of our proposals. So these are the main aspects that we consider while designing.
14) Talk us through the various architectural design elements for the Savoy Palace.
Saraiva Architects: This is an interesting question as it covers several aspects of this project, its historical background and also the interior design.
Starting by its scale and form, we used the Tromp d’Oeil effect to diminish its impact. The façade, vertically divided by two-storey horizontal slats, transcends the typical homogeneity of the skin concept, creating pleasant spaces enriched by the contrast of light and shadow, exposure and protection. The use of the green element constituted a requirement of the design: by means of sets of flower boxes, it sought to create relaxing spaces that could also favour privacy with respect to the outside, as well as to increase guest satisfaction.
Other main concerns were the façade’s tones and textures, attesting to provide an intimate scale for this large mass, aiming to create a highly pleasant and visually appealing development.
The building’s south façade is also reflected in vertical wooden slats. Meanwhile, this cladding was designed to create a neutral image, featuring a skin in white and wood, flanked by transparent guards, featuring a tropical but also traditional ambience.
The architectural heritage and artistic elements added value to the developed Drop-off’s structure, lending particular charm to the image of the new wooden pergola (in the former building developed in concrete)
15) Do you think that having a true understanding of the place and surroundings helps with the design process?
Saraiva Architects: Without a doubt. We look to develop seamless proposals in which the presence of the architectural object, as an element of the whole, coexists with the urban space, creating high-quality links with societies. Our conceptual solutions meet the needs of each market in which we work. Currently based in 13 countries, we strive to develop local know-how in order to consolidate our experience and in order to design spaces that seek to reflect life to perfection.
16) Do you feel that architecture is evolving, and how important is it to come up with new design concepts?
Architecture is one of the few occupations that has survived the “Renaissance man”. We are entering an era of hyper specialization and I believe that architecture has escaped this cataclysm. A good architect, in my understanding, may always defeat a poor specialist. For instance, in the National Theatre of London competition, the specialists were defeat by an architect that had never performed before. A great architect that enjoyed going to the theatre that was more than enough.
The capacity to consider and reflect life; the capacity to relate buildings to one another; the capacity to grant a sense of belonging, to join form and function, to create and discover. Those are constant challenges in the life of an architect that above all, has to offer a unique and emotional experience.