Design Date – Martin Hulbert

Martin Hulbert Design, founded in 2010, has created some of the most memorable hotels of recent years, from The Grove Hotel to Coworth Park, alongside an enviable portfolio of homes for private clients. With the influences and ideas that inform residential and hospitality design becoming more fluid, Martin (above left) and the studio’s co-founder Jay Grierson (above right) are perfectly placed to talk about how designers shift gear between the two, and how to create spaces that have soul. Martin explains more about this topical subject below.

Conversations in Design:
Looking Both Ways: Designing Beautiful Homes and Hotels that Have Soul, 3pm, Tuesday 6 March 

Are hotels striving to create a more soulful ‘home from home’ in terms of their aesthetics?
Some hotels are trying to be soulful, but more are trying to be individual. I think customers or clients in the future will be looking for more of an escape, with something that is comforting and not too visually demanding. They are looking for an effortless experience.

Are there challenges in creating hotels that have a more individual, expressive aesthetic?
The challenge is to be constantly re-inspired when we are creating a hotel and to deliver interiors that are not over-designed and that will easily become outdated.

What about design influences going the other way? Are private clients often inspired by their travels when it comes to briefing you on their homes?
Hotel bathrooms definitely influence our residential clients. They want a completely finished look. Interestingly, more recently we have been working to make hotel bathrooms feel like part of the room rather than a separate clinical entity. Our clients are definitely inspired by their travels – as are we. A recent brief from one particular residential client was Japanese cherry blossom, just opening.

How do you think this cross-fertilisation of ideas will evolve?
We have always approached our projects individually so we have always believed in cross-fertilisation. We think everyday growing demands and stress levels are behind this need for escapism that some hotels are beginning to evolve. In the future we will want to bring this effortlessness into our homes, too.

What are you working on at the moment?
Private homes in the UK and Moscow and holiday homes in Corfu, Tuscany and the Caribbean. We are also working on a number of unique hotels.

Where do you feel at your most creative?
We work in a lovely studio with a great team. We tend to inspire each other and we have a lot of fun in the process.

How do you like to recharge, away from work?
Reading, gardening, travelling, eating and drinking.

Do you have a design mantra?
Our interiors are about creating atmosphere as well as aesthetics. They have to be beautiful; even more so when you live in them. They have to be a perfect fit for the people they are designed for.

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