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Lawson Robb: Q&A with London Interior Design Studio

Lawson Robb: Q&A with London Interior Design Studio

Creative Director Alix Lawson talks favourite materials, design inspiration and industry changes

Jon Sharpe
By Jon Sharpe, Chief Creative Officer

After founding LAWSON ROBB at the age of just 23, Charlotte Robb and Alix Lawson have cemented their Chelsea-based interior architecture and interior design studio as a leader in its field.

With a design portfolio that includes enviable residential addresses, private spas and superyachts, the firm has earned international clout for offering a couture service that embraces each client’s individuality to create the ultimate tailored space.

Read our interview with one-half of the design power duo – Alix Lawson – who opens up about the firm’s design process, industry changes and its most luxurious project to date.

Tell us a little bit about your story. When and how did LAWSON ROBB emerge?

I studied Interior Architecture at the Inchbald School of Design alongside Charlotte. We both worked with design firms for a year before we founded LAWSON ROBB at the age of 23. 

We now have an international team of designers that speak over 12 languages with a large studio on the Kings Road, working on private residences, developments and yachts across the globe. 

Lawson Robb: Q&A with London Interior Design Studio | Style Guide
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How do you bring each project to life? Talk us through your process.

We work very closely with our clients and listen to their lifestyle requirements and aspirations to provide a couture service. During the initial concept design, we present the client with plans, elevations, sample boards and renderings to bring the project to life. After this initial phase, we develop the designs to produce a detailed drawing package and schedules.

How would describe the LAWSON ROBB look?

We do not have a one-fit interior design practice style; clients come to us so that we can develop and tailor a design for them. It is our job to understand how our clients live, and the common thread that runs throughout all our projects is attention to detail and quality. We do however design for longevity and do not follow trends.

How does working as a female duo impact positively on the business?

We both bring different qualities to the business. I am focused on the creative elements, working closely with clients and our design team. Charlotte runs the operations of the business. As we’ve been working together for 14 years, we have developed a strong relationship and have a shared a vision for the company’s future.

Lawson Robb: Q&A with London Interior Design Studio | Style Guide
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What changes have you witnessed in the industry since founding in 2003?

An increased desire for health and well-being means that clients are looking to include wellness centres with spa and leisure facilities in their homes.

Due to the rise in the use of social media, there is now much more exposure to what was once a small industry. The look of the high-end properties quickly filters through to the middle market so we always have to be innovative and at the forefront of design to ensure that we can offer clients designs that are unique. 

Where do you go for inspiration?

We are incredibly fortunate that our office is based is in London, which remains one of the world’s cultural hubs. We are constantly exposed to the unique, new and interesting. We draw our inspiration from fashion, travel, art and nature. We’re also constantly sourcing the globe for new materials and artisans by attending design fairs in Paris, Milan, New York and beyond.

Lawson Robb: Q&A with London Interior Design Studio | Style Guide
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Are there any past styles or movements you particularly enjoy referencing in projects?

We have referenced the Minimalist movement in our home spas with clean lines, placing strong importance on natural and artificial light and the interior architecture of the building. In other projects, we have drawn inspiration from Hollywood-style glamour for the interiors for living rooms and bedrooms.

Which materials and colours are making regular appearances in your work?

Our colour palettes vary, but to create an elegant look, we layer textures tone on tone. Our clients like fresh colours such as silvers, creams, white, grey, navy and green. We are constantly exploring new finishes as we do not like to duplicate work in our projects. Finishes that are currently on the design table include aged zinc, copper, gypse, a glazed crackled eggshell finish which is applied to furniture, horsehair for upholstery, and lacquered palm wood for a custom desk.

Lawson Robb: Q&A with London Interior Design Studio | Style Guide
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Do you have any favourite brands you find yourselves using time and time again?

We love the work of artisans and are currently working with Officina Coppola and Yann Jallu.

It would of course be any designer’s dream to be given full rein of a new home!  We enjoy working with our range of different clients and this is what really drives us. Most of our clients are international, with homes in London and abroad. At LAWSON ROBB our team is multilingual and we can adapt our team to the cultures of each client.  Every project is great because we’re fascinated by our clients and like to meet interesting people and embrace different cultures.

Which interior designers/creatives do you look up to?

Parisians designers such as Tristan Auer and Gilles & Boissier for their elegance and simplicity. Also, the Canadian designers Yabu Pushelberg for their commercial work.

What’s been the most luxurious project you’ve worked on to date?

We have recently been working on a luxury villa in Dubai in a private gated area of Emirates Hills. Surrounded by a private golf course and lake are a collection of the most prestigious properties in Dubai. The property we are currently working on is 30,000 sq. ft with over 35 rooms and includes a whole floor of entertaining space with a sumptuous bar, lounge and games room. We have specified a range of materials such as backlit alabaster, lacquered smoked oak, shagreen leathers, silk wallpaper, dark marbles and Baccarat chandeliers, which adorn the walls and ceilings like delicate pieces of jewellery.

On the ground and first floor we have designed French-inspired panelling with gold inlays, bespoke crystal light installations, backlit onyx marble, Sophie Malebranche specialist metal screens. We also included silk carpet and wallpaper as well as bespoke bookmatched sunburst veneers on joinery. We have selected and worked alongside some of the finest artisans to produce something that is unique to the client and property. The design is both elegant and glamorous.

Lawson Robb: Q&A with London Interior Design Studio | Style Guide
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With more and more technology appearing in the home, how is modern living affecting interior design?

We are experts at incorporating modern day technologies into a client’s home especially when it comes to cinema rooms. We stay abreast of the most modern technologies so our clients are getting the best. With a Knightsbridge project, we took a small and blank space and turned into a soft and subtle cinema room. Speakers and subwoofer are concealed behind silk panelling with fabric that was sheer enough to see through, ensuring no loss in sound quality. This space also contains an unusual mix of up lighting and down lighting, more akin to a gallery than a cinema, allowing the mood in the space to be changed at the push of a button. Small additions, such as a fireplace, create a space to watch films and somewhere to unwind. Incorporating wires and technology into a home is just another challenge we’ve embraced to create the highest spec home for clients. One client even wanted an outdoor cinema for his family and we incorporated this into his home for him.

Lawson Robb: Q&A with London Interior Design Studio | Style Guide
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Are there any particular requests trending amongst your discerning clients?

A new home trend has emerged for cigar rooms to be installed in London’s finest properties in addition to home cinemas, wellness areas and wine cellars. Our clients appreciate fine cigars, frequenting high-end cigar stores like Jayems in Westminster to purchase cigars like BBMF which are collector’s items. It’s only natural for clients who are true aficionados to request their own personal in-house cigar spaces in their own home. Our most recent cigar room project was to install a cigar room inspired by “Le Fumoir” at Claridges. It is a discreet and moody hideout of dark panelling, understated onyx, Lalique glass-clad walls, mirrors etched by Basil Ionides and deep buttoned velvet upholstery. The décor is rich aubergine, low crystal lighting and the walls feature vintage photographs. The cigar room is one of several ‘man-only’ zones we created in our client’s Westminster home together with a cinema room, library, office and sauna.

Finally, what’s the future for LAWSON ROBB?

Our team is growing from strength to strength and we are working on a lot more projects internationally. Currently, we are working Kuwait and Dubai, and hope to be working in all the [gulf] states by next year. New York is next on our list.