David Collins (1955-2013) and his studio follow a fine tradition set by the great Edwardian architects and designers who defined the style of grand hotels and ocean liners during the early 1900s. He can be aptly described as a magician in the ante room of the great contemporary palaces, both public and private.
The projects that marked his distinguished career are all illustrated in this fine book. The bar at Claridge’s Hotel (1998), The Blue Bar at the Berkeley Hotel (2000), The Gilbert Scott (2011). I particularly admire The Roux at the Landau, The Langham Hotel, London (2008). The dining room stands out, as it remains in essence a late 19th-century luxury hotel but re-presented and raised to a very distinctive level, with the added ingredient of drama. Upon entering any of these celebratory spaces, there is an immediate sense of design, occasion and a place apart.
Collins founded his studio in London in 1985. Time after time he was successful in working with demanding clients and equally demanding buildings. The arch of the practice stretched from London to Rome and from Russia to Bangkok.
Born in Dublin, he attended the highly practical School of Architecture, Bolton College of Technology. As fast as the flight took him from Dublin to London, he commenced his stellar career. Among his projects is the theatre within The Langton House Hotel in County Kilkenny (2009).
The introduction which is insightful and moving, is written by his friend Madonna, whom he affectionately renamed ‘Muriel’. Engagingly, there are short passages by Collins using the alphabet from A-Z. These give us an insight to his creative mind and his unique contribution to the demanding and challenging world of top-class interior design.
This book holds true to what he held and honed to such a high level in his own practice. ‘To create buildings that speak from the inside out’. This is so true, in this finely produced book on the works of the David Collins Studio.
John J O’Connell was the design architect for the recently completed Great Gallery at the Wallace Collection, London.