Noor Charchafchi, the founder of luxury London interior design studio Celine Estates, has a reputation which proceeds her, for more reasons than one. In the last 4 years, she has quickly established herself as one of the capital’s most sought-after designers amongst the ultra-rich and also the nicest. From luxury apartments in London’s south-west to grand Surrey mansions and beyond, the firm is well on its way to building an impressive portfolio of high-end projects.
Here’s what the designer has to say about her top interior design tips, the company’s most memorable moments so far and the changing London design world.
Can you tell us the story of the beginning of Celine Estates?
Celine Estates was really the brainchild of my husband and I. We had been working side by side – he doing the refurbishment and construction with me designing interiors of our own portfolio – before we realised the next step was to package our service and create our own business. It has since grown from my home office to a whole team of designers and architects and recently been recognised as one of the top 50 UK interior design practices.
What is one of the most memorable moments of your career so far?
There are so many memorable moments. One is definitely walking up a very precarious ladder on a building site nine months pregnant!; another would be winning our first award and being completely overwhelmed by the honour; and, of course, the look on every client’s face when they get to walk into their finished property for the first time. I remember the way every single client looks on handover and that really is unforgettable for me.
How would you describe the interior design style of Celine Estates?
We are definitely classic contemporary but I would also say we are always updating our own style and sometimes even give it a modern edge.
What’s your top interior design tip?
Stick to what you love for tomorrow, not just for today. It’s so exciting to design your own home and to have the luxury of using an interior designer to do it with and it’s easy to get carried away and try out too many new looks that you might not want to live with over the years. I think it’s incredibly important that your home is right for you and your lifestyle and that has to be your focus rather than latest trends and influences. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be interested in all types of design but, like anything else, it’s really important to stay true to what is right for you and to know what that is.
Can you describe your design process?
We make sure we get a really good design brief from our clients and we then start to design concept boards to give the client an idea of where we are headed and then we source all the furniture and finishes and design joinery and once the client has approved everything it’s ordered, delivered and installed.
What is it about the London interior design scene that excites you?
I basically don’t get to take a breath. We are so incredibly lucky to be designers in London. The world is your oyster. There are a huge number of suppliers, events, talks [and] resources. It’s just an incredible place to be. We are also really lucky to have so many different angles to the design scene in London. From Pad Creative and Frieze to Decorex and Design Week, it’s just packed full of world-coveted events and we are right here in the middle of it all!
I also think the London design scene is changing and becoming a much more welcoming, open space where other designers are talking to each other much more and businesses are more supportive of one another so it’s a great time to be in the industry.
Which designers most inspire you?
I have to say I am inspired by so many designers. So many of them are also friends of mine so I don’t just love their designs but also who they are – Zaha Hadid was a relative of mine and frankly I don’t think anyone could possibly be more inspiring from my point of view. Zaha was was a leader not only of architecture and design but also an incredibly strong woman in her own right and her relentless pursual to push the boundaries of design and structure was simply unprecedented.
If you could be commissioned to do the interior design of any project, what would it be?
I would love to design a Four Seasons Hotel. I have rarely seen a Four Seasons Hotel which I didn’t love, I also love the brand and the sense of luxury that you get with the interiors and the service so that would be a wonderful project for my company. I would also love to start getting into yacht design and design a beautiful yacht – I think that would be a wonderful.
What are you working on at the moment?
We are working on a flat in Belgravia, a house in Fulham and another house in Mayfair. We are also working on a luxury student accommodation building and a group of flats in Chelsea for a developer. There are a few new properties coming up but I can’t really discuss these until we have started working on them.
What do you love most about doing what you do?
I love the real design, the drawings, bringing together all the different samples and fabrics and combining all our resources together to create a beautiful final product.
I also love working with the actual clients and have yet to have a client who hasn’t become a good friend. I have also been really lucky to have always worked with a great group of people who I love spending time with and working with. We are like a small family so I really look forward to walking into the office every day. I’m not sure if that leaves anything else but I love pretty much everything about my job.