Robert Angell: meet the designer creating the backdrop for London's social scene

If you’ve sipped champagne at the Savoy, stayed at the iconic Berkeley hotel, or sampled Marcus Wareing’s Michelin-star cuisine, it’s more than likely you’ve already been inspired by the work of Robert Angell, the creative genius behind the impeccable interior design at some of London’s most renowned hotels, restaurants and bars.
After 15 years as creative director of prominent design studio David Collins, Angell set up his own business in 2010 - a time when the country was in deep recession but “good little restaurants and unheard-of people who had worked for greats” were also setting out on their own.

Five years later, Angell continues to work with now well-established chefs, such as Taylor Bonnyman, who trained under two Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud before opening The Five Fields close to Sloane Square in London.
Award-winning restaurant The Five Fields in SW3: Robert Angell's fresh design was inspired by Chelsea's famous association with flowers

A self-confessed control freak when it comes to design, Angell insists on every item being made bespoke, from the chair you sit on to the tray your champagne is served on. 

Even when collaborating with top chefs renowned for their exacting standards, including Wareing, Angell still considers it his duty to challenge them. But he wants no such thing from his manufacturers, expecting his designs to be created to his precise specifications.
Marcus Wareing's racing green restaurant Tredwells, designed by Angell

Following the launch of two major projects – five new exclusive Chelsea suites, the only rooms to have four-poster beds at The Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge, and the redesign of one of west London’s most stylish Spanish restaurants, Aqua Nueva – we get the lowdown on the secrets to the success of London’s pioneering design scene…

Why has London become a globally recognised design destination?
Over New York and Paris, the vibrancy of the people gives London its edge – the interaction of different cultures and experiences is insane. London never stands still and it never rests on its laurels.

What was it like to work with famed British designer David Collins?
Brilliant. Nothing was a problem, he believed that everything had a resolution.

What design trends will we be seeing over the next 12 months?
Opulent is the next big look because everyone desires quality and luxury. But it will be discreet, not flashy – creating environments where you can feel comfortable in jeans or a tie. 

There’s still very much a trend of bringing the outside in, as with the plants inside Chiltern Firehouse.

A trend I hope goes out is industrial luxe – it’s not unique enough. If you half-squint your eyes everything looks the same.  


My home:
It’s in Dalston and the colour is in the objects, not the walls. I collect art and photography and like to mix different styles to create a look that has been developed over time. I recently bought Miles Aldridge’s Carousel collection of photographs.

Most coveted object
David [Collins] had a collection of Line Vautrin boxes that were almost jewel-like. I couldn’t even afford them now but they would be beautiful things to have.

Sources of inspiration
Furniture and design books from the Thirties and Forties, when there was a big crossover of traditional and modern. Many of the styles created then still influence designs now.

How to get the look at home
If you’re inspired by a restaurant or hotel interior, look for similar but individual design pieces that also reflect your personality. The website 1stdibs has great antique furniture, so does eBay

Of course, lighting is very important. Light the space evenly, don’t floodlight it, and keep it at your level. A floor lamp behind a sofa or table will highlight the elements in your immediate surroundings. 

The trick is in the detail; make sure there’s always something new to discover.
Piccolino, Heddon Street, Cicchetti bar: the trick is to make sure there's always something new to discover

Favourite London shops
Pimlico Road for its beautiful antiques and Alfies Antique Market in Church Street for its chandeliers.

Favourite material to work with
Marble – it’s cold and real and very figurative. There’s movement in it and it’s very tactile. You can do anything with it now, we have the technology to create the most amazing details.

Most important design lesson
Make a decision and stick with it. At some point you have to stop researching and sketching and decide which way to go. 

Dream project 
To redesign the restaurant at the top of the BT Tower – a building that symbolises London with incredible revolving views.

Dream collaboration
Victoria Beckham symbolises a new era in British fashion. I would love to have a coffee with her and see what inspires her.

What’s next?
We can achieve greater things with new technology – it opens up the boundaries of design – but I believe that everything has been designed before, so we have to nod to the greats. Next for me is to create 3D-printed furniture and lighting.  

Visit robertangelldesigninternational.

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