Tom Faulkner interviews Charu Gandhi from Elicyon

Elicyon is an award-winning interior design studio in Kensington, London. Charu Gandhi, founder and director of Elicyon, is a registered Architect and has worked in the field of architecture and interior design for close to two decades. Together, Charu and the Elicyon team provide a personal, accomplished service to clients; creating exquisite homes with a scrupulous attention to detail that demonstrates their passion for uniqueness, materiality and craft. We caught up with Charu to find out more about her journey through interior design.

What interior design style are you best known for? What do clients come to Elicyon for? I set up Elicyon over six years ago, to offer a highly creative, bespoke interior design service. We create exquisite interior couture for our clients, bringing a strong architectural and spatial approach, combined with a creative and tailored interior design eye and grounded in our project management service that focuses on delivery. Our USP is seamlessly bringing these disciplines together, driven by a great passion for creating beautiful spaces that can be a sanctuary for our client. As a studio we work across a diverse, wide range of projects around the world, from private houses and family estates to large scale residential developments and boutique hotels. However, one of the key characteristics across our project portfolio is ambition – we love to work on ambitious, challenging and often complex projects that take the client on a journey. We want our clients to fall in love with design and craft and to have an emotive response to the spaces we create for them.

Angel dining chair at Project Orchards, Chelsea Barracks

Having worked on luxury interior developments around the world, which has been your favourite project? I always say my favourite project is my next one, I am constantly in the pursuit of the beautiful and looking forward to the next design adventure.

What’s the best design advice you’ve received? I am continuing to grow and evolve as a designer and that is one of the wonderful things about a creative journey. Very early on in my career, one of my first professors at the Architectural Association, said to me that good design has to be absorbed osmotically, that you have to live and breathe it to understand it which means seeing it in how dancers move through a space, how a child curls up on a sofa, how the weave of a fabric lends it beauty and strength – it has taken me many years to fully appreciate that statement. Julia Wood is no longer with us, but her words often ring true in my mind – that a fundamental curiosity for space and how we occupy it as human beings is the best source of design knowledge.

What is your favourite part of a design project? Working creatively with the team and my clients is my favourite part of the job. When ideas come together, and we uncover the perfect mix of bringing together beautiful finishes, design elements, furniture pieces, art & craft that perfectly celebrate the space and the client’s brief – it’s absolute magic! I love how we can support craftspeople and makers, and when clients come on a journey of discovery with Elicyon, investing in these special pieces, that is a highlight of the process. There is very little that I don’t like about my job; there are aspects of being a business owner that are far removed from the creative process but critical for me to understand for the stability and running of the Studio. Mundane things such as our VAT returns and legal contracts, which I am supported by experts to navigate but have to take the ultimate decision on, will never be a favourite part of my role.

When were you first introduced to Tom Faulkner designs? I feel like I have known about Tom’s work from the very early part of my career and certainly being neighbours in Chelsea’s Design Quarter for Elicyon’s first half decade that we were on the Lots Road, meant that not only did we get to know Tom Faulkner designs well as a brand, but we got to know the people, the passion and craft behind in depth.

What’s your favourite Tom Faulkner piece and why? I am particularly fond of the Papillon, Capricorn, Avalon, and Ava dining and console tables. I love them for their sculptural forms, materiality and versatility. We are currently placing the Ava table in a beautiful project in One Hyde Park to be used as a games table.

Madison Demi Lune console table in an Elicyon residential project

What or who is inspiring you in the interior and architectural world right now? My inspiration comes from the world of interiors and architecture but also from jewellery design, patterns in nature, historical references and craft – these usually end up as a pile of books, article clippings and images stacked up on my desk. Currently on my desk: - Images of Viren Bhagat’s jewellery - A retrospective of the work of architect Carlo Scarpa - Marcin Rusak’s new pieces - Tobia scarpa sconces and chairs - A book on the entryways of Milano - Azzedine Alaia’s book from the show on his work at the Design Museum

What’s next for Elicyon? We moved into our lovely new studio to mark our 5th anniversary in 2019 and that marked a really positive evolution for us – it’s a truly creative and collaborative space and we are all set for our projects in 2020 to build on that. Across a year, we will turn down approximately 50% of enquiries. Our strong design and work ethos mean that we only want to work on the best projects, where we can create something truly beautiful. As a boutique studio, maintaining this expected level of hands on service means that we need to be highly selective about the relatively small number of projects we work on at any one time, but the scale and calibre of our projects continues to grow. In London - we are working on a family home in Chelsea, a listed house in Belgrave Square, a large property in Knightsbridge and two apartments in One Hyde Park. On the international stage - we are due to complete our 30,000 sq ft Dubai penthouse at the start of 2021 and are commencing a yacht project and house in the South of France. We would love to do more projects on the Cote d’azur, and the USA after our successful projects in New York and Los Angeles. An exciting new development is our expansion into hospitality and marine projects – we are designing a really beautiful new build yacht with a very compelling design vision. We are excited to bring these incredible projects to life in 2020 and beyond.

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