Guy Oliver Interior Designer: At first glance, Guy Oliver acknowledges, Fera, the new farm-to-table restaurant in Claridge’s hotel in London, didn’t seem like a natural fit for the hotel. When it comes to interior design, “Fera was a tough storey to tell,” he explains. The British designer, on the other hand, was able to tell the story in a way that emphasized both the history of the space and the seasonal cuisine of chef Simon Rogan.
It was Oliver’s first order of business to re-examine the restaurant’s original 1920s and 1930s architecture, which he felt “lacked finesse” in comparison to the hotel’s more well-known Art Deco areas.” By removing the walls that had divided the space and installing lay lights, he was able to make the 16-foot-high ceiling appear to be flooded with natural light. When Oliver reworked the entrance to the dining room, he added a touch of “Alice in Wonderland-like” enchantment. The curtained entrance leads to a slightly taller rotunda, from where guests enter the main hall.
A mixture of ancient and contemporary artifacts can be found among them. Honey and amber onyx (materials utilized in the original design) formed a ring around the room’s perimeter, which Oliver contrasted with the room’s neutral grey walls, soft green leather banquettes, sage drapes, and a dramatic sandblasted manzanita tree in the middle. As a result, one of Oliver’s greatest design problems was allowing the food, and the chefs who prepared it, to take the spotlight. “An alien concept to most fine-dining restaurants,” says Oliver!
Oliver Laws co-founder was interviewed
Guy Oliver has been a designer for more than 20 years. His work is recognized to include a mix of private mansions, yachts, and aircraft, as well as specialty luxury hotel projects. Guy has built a name for himself as a designer with a singular sense of style and an uncommon amount of imagination, all of which are underpinned by a thorough knowledge of many historical periods and artisanal processes.
“Oliver managed to incorporate an open kitchen into the design by utilizing the same modest palette in the cooking area as in the dining room,” he says. After that, he framed the kitchen in an illuminated frame, encircled by a landscape artwork. Oliver Fera’s design was lauded by an architectural historian who didn’t even notice the radical adjustments Oliver had made to Fera’s design. My objective was to make her believe that the site had always been this way, and I believe she was correct. Recognized for both his distinct personal style and his unusually high level of inventiveness.
Do you remember how it all started?
It was because of my mother’s antiquities business and since my parents were both collectors that I began collecting at a young age. They taught me to appreciate how things are built, how they feel and weigh, and to pay attention to detail. The people I met as a child who worked in the antique industry showed me that looking behind or beneath an object might reveal its “character,” a maker’s mark, an inventory stamp, the patina of age, and the quality of the workmanship. This was a lifelong lesson for me.
Guy Oliver Interior Designer
How do you go about choosing artisans and placing orders for their work: You develop a network over time. Throughout my professional career, I’ve worked with artisan craftspeople from the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture. They all know each other and can point you in the right direction, from a cabinet maker who knows signwriters to a polisher who knows gold leaf.
Can you give me an example of a project that was both tough and exhilarating?
It was the most difficult job I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on: delivering Fera, the restaurant at Claridge’s Hotel, in just five months. Bringing organic, locally sourced food to a Mayfair hotel known for its glitz of the 1920s and 1930s was an almost insurmountable challenge. It was a pleasure to work with a diverse group of craftspeople, from marble masons to painters to embroiderers to metal workers to glass and cabinet makers, to create a cohesive new space that evoked a sense of timelessness by integrating the design vocabulary with the hotel’s existing architecture and culture. Writing a symphony and leading an orchestra were two of the most similar experiences I’ve ever had.
What kind of art do you collect and how does it represent your personal style?
To be honest, it’s difficult to remain objective when it comes to your own home. In my opinion, the varied nature of my home is a reflection of my own character. There is no overarching strategy, and it has developed over time, which is why I used to say “the carpenter’s door is always broken” or “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” In addition to things I’ve acquired while traveling, I also have a collection of art and antiques that I’ve either acquired myself or have been given as gifts. Indeed, there is an artisan theme to many of the artifacts I’ve gathered, such as a Japanese temple and Cambodian wood carvings as well as Uzbek tiles, pieces of architectural debris, and furniture that I’ve built for exhibitions or prototypes for projects.
Are you keeping an eye out for any new, up-and-coming film and television producers?
In their academic pursuits, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust Scholars set the bar extraordinarily high. Attending the City and Guilds Graduate Exhibitions is a priority of mine. Miriam Johnson and Sue Aperghis are two carvers there who have recently caught my eye and whose work I admire.
Afghanistan taught you a lot, don’t you think?
Two-dimensional drawings, designs, and sketches are not always easy to understand for artisans and craftspeople. To fully communicate your intentions as a designer, you may need to use 3D models and spend additional time with the maker in their workshop. The Turquoise Mountain Foundation (of which I am the founding Creative Director) was founded on the principles of encouraging indigenous craft in areas that have experienced the conflict or natural disaster, as well as promoting high standards of excellence in the teaching and studying of indigenous craft.
Craftsmen with aspirations of a better life through their profession have a special kind of dignity that can’t be matched by others. TMF helps students learn how to run a business while also helping them improve their own personal talents. “It is better to teach someone how to fish than to give them a fish,” a Confucian phrase that I enjoy, seems apt here.
Next steps for your company?
I’m now working on a vintage boat, a boutique hotel, and two private residences in the realm of project work. SAVE Britain’s Heritage Trustee, Ambassador for The Museum of London, and ICRW, which promotes gender justice in emerging nations, are some of the organizations I’m involved in within the philanthropic and charitable realms.
That his home is an unexceptional piece of architecture is evident, yet Guy believes strongly that spaces feel better when they tell stories and have multiple levels of objects. In order for a design to be considered successful, it must feel as though it has always been there. We owe a debt of gratitude to Guy, Geberit, and Feast Collective for allowing us access to their homes.