David Collins, Minister of the Interior Featured

Interview with the magisterial designer behind some of the world's most iconic interiors.
by 06 October 2009

Hello David. Could you tell Luxos about your earliest influences?
I was born in Dublin and had a very happy childhood. I was a bit of a loner, though, and I daydreamed a lot. It was something that I was prone to at school – dreaming and imagining. At seven years of age I was taking books about old Hollywood movies and sets out of the library. As I grew up, I became more interested in reading about fashion and music, and it occurred to me that I might find doing something creative a lot more rewarding than a sensible career in banking or industry. I thought that becoming a designer would be an interesting thing to do. But I didn’t know how I was going to do it, so I became an architect first.

And who inspired you?
At first, I would read a lot about Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, and, on my early trips to Paris, I would spend hours wandering around the Museum of Decorative Arts. Then there was Armand-Albert Rateau and, when I studied architecture, I became obsessed by Mies van der Rohe and his ideas of symmetry and order.

What are the considerations that come into play when you design?
Many of the buildings that my team work on are listed and have stories, so we heavily research their culture, history and location, and take these into consideration when creating a design. This, I feel, helps preserve their posterity and gives each destination a feeling of permanence, as if it has always existed in its environment. I draw on my knowledge of film, art, architecture and fashion to complete this. The little details are what create the luxury and make you look twice. It’s subliminal.

Tell us how you define luxury.
I know I’m going back to my childhood when I say I like nothing more than to fall asleep on the navy-blue satin couch in my room with its blue-leather floor, silver walls and Duchess satin curtains. It must stem from some kind of repressed obsession with the clergy or nuns, but it is where I feel most comfortable.

Where do you source from?
I like to create something new. This is a fascination that grew from the fact that I could never find exactly what I wanted. When I first started as a designer, I had no idea you could actually commission or make everything yourself.

And what influences you in those decisions?
I was very much inspired by the surroundings that I grew up in. I was raised in a nice home near the sea. Early influences of colour and light, and shades of the ocean are all apparent in my projects. It seems that, from my childhood, I was always surrounded by the colour blue, which is, of course, still very much evident in the work I do today.

What is your greatest achievement?
I’ve achieved a lot in my professional life, but I am much more focused on the friendships and allegiances I have formed. The good relations I have with my family, and being loyal and steadfast to the people around me are my biggest priorities.

What’s your favourite example of architecture?
The Royal Institue of British Architects Building in Portland Place is wonderful, though my absolute favourite would have to be the Cap Ferrat-facing Villa Kerylos on the French Riviera. Personally, I love a simple Modernist – almost Art Deco – style, and this is one I’ve continued to evolve through the years.

What does the future hold for you?
The cinematic influences that have followed me from early childhood will probably be realised by my producing and directing a film at some point in the not-too-distant future. That’s my dream and, as I say, I am a talented dreamer.

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