My life’s work | Fiona Livingston, Co-Founder of Studiofibre

In this weekly series, we meet a Walpole member chief executive to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week, Fiona Livingston, Co-Founder of Studiofibre, a multi-disciplined, award-winning design company.

Studiofibre is the dynamic design studio renowned for creating beautifully branded experiential retail and work spaces for leading luxury brands globally. Clients include The Net-A-Porter Group, Farfetch, Chaos, Mary Katrantzou and The White Company. A Studiofibre space is designed to allow for growth – both the personal growth in knowledge and experience of the users of the space, or the physical growth of a brand. Fiona was Creative Director of a commercial interior design company, before founding ‘Fibre’ in 2002 and designing spaces for leading lifestyle brands. She and her husband Ian joined forces in 2007 and Studiofibre was born, offering full-service architecture, design and bespoke furniture.

WHAT DOES BRITISH LUXURY MEAN TO YOU?
British Luxury means traditional craftsmanship, exquisite raw materials and often a uniquely British wit. We are a team of British designer-makers and we like to support other talented British craftspeople wherever possible.

WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR THE COMPANY?
As retail and work environments continue to evolve at an incredible pace, we have our eye firmly on the future and what the luxury shopper or luxury brand employee of tomorrow will want and need from a retail store or workplace. Our vision is to build on our existing reputation for creating smart spaces which unite the physical and the digital worlds, act as content generation hubs, nudge a workforce to work smarter and allow a brand to grow and evolve.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
In a way you are only as good as your last global project – which in our case is Farfetch (London HQ, Moscow, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York). The Farfetch business has grown by an incredible 70% since they moved into the HQ we designed for them in 2016, so we are now helping them evolve the space to accommodate this growth and the way they will need to work in the years to come. We are also designing a new space in LA for them, evolving the design language.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
My definition of success is when our clients recommend us on for other design projects to their contacts. We have been lucky enough to have been able to build and grow our business via word of mouth referrals from happy clients – so we must be doing something right! I also define success by the feeling of pride I get when I see our spaces being used and enjoyed by the people they have been created for.

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
Definitely time! At Studiofibre we put so much time in each of our projects, ensuring every last intricate detail is considered. We strive to achieve perfection on every project and if we have to put in extra hours to make that happen – then we do.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I love getting under the skin of the luxury brands we work for and finding out what makes a business tick. I spend a lot of time researching at the beginning of a project. Only when you fully understand a brand’s unique DNA, operational needs and vision, can you create a bespoke design ideal for that brand and their particular space.

AND LEAST?
Whilst I love the world travel I do for our global projects (Hong Kong, Shanghai, LA, New York…) if we have a lot happening overseas then I find it hard to be away from my family for an extended period.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REGRET?
I wish we’d gone into retail design earlier than we did. Its such a fascinating time as the retail landscape reinvents itself in our digital era – and I adore working with luxury retailers to create spaces that bridge the gap between the digital and the physical worlds and provide unique and memorable experiences, and shareable social media content opportunities.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
In addition to offering architectural and interior design, we also design and make our own furniture on a bespoke basis for each project. And what we don’t make – we procure from hundreds of different niche, specialist suppliers. This gives us total control of the final look of the space, which means we can create a totally unique and beautifully branded experience for each client / project. It also means that clients can come back to us when they need additional pieces as they grow.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIG BREAK?
We won a competition to design Net-A-Porter’s London HQ at Westfield in 2009. This was the start of the years we spent working closely with Natalie Massenet, designing not only the London HQ, but global projects such as workspaces, studios and warehouse spaces in New York, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

WHAT IS YOUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE?
Always allow time between doing your research and coming up with the design ideas. Even if deadlines are tight (which they often are!), plan your working week to allow time to digest the research and for ideas and thoughts to percolate.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Natalie Massenet. I admire her incredible vision, her tenacity and her unwavering commitment to / investment in her team around her. I learnt so much working closely with her on creating the global spaces for The Net-A-Porter Group.

WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVERUSE?
“Don’t’ worry – we’ve got loads of time!”

WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?
Important projects and pitches. Although technically they don’t always keep me awake – sometimes I dream about a problem that needs solving and ideas will come to me overnight. I just have to make sure I get them down on paper before I ‘lose’ them once I get up!

WHAT DO YOU MOST VALUE IN YOUR FRIENDS?
Their loyalty, sense of fun, and giving me time and space to relax and be myself. And of course the ability to make a great mojito!

IN A PARALLEL LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
I’d be a hip-hop dance choreographer.

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE ENTERING THE LUXURY INDUSTRY NOW?
Have the courage of your own convictions. You will need total belief in yourself and passion for the brand/s you are working for.

Find out more: www.studiofibre.com