Luxury Leader | Aino Grapin, CEO, Winch Design

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 we shine a light on Aino Grapin, CEO of the award-winning British design studio, Winch Design.

Aino Grapin is the CEO of Winch Design. Aino is responsible for leading the team into a new phase of success over the next 30 years. She works closely with co-founder, Andrew Winch, and the senior management team, utilising nearly 20 years of experience in leading and growing businesses in creative industries, including art, luxury and technology sectors. Having received an MBA from INSEAD, Aino started out as a strategy consultant with Bain & Company focusing on growth strategies and private equity due diligence. She then spent nearly a decade at Christie’s, in a variety of strategic and operational roles, including International Business Director, responsible for Russian Art, before moving to Winch Design.

What does British luxury mean to you?

Craftsmanship and tradition with a twist: luxury design that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

What’s your vision for Winch Design?

To create our clients dreams.

How do you define success?

A repeat client is a happy client.

What’s your greatest extravagance?

All my club memberships given how little time I have to enjoy them.

What do you like most about your job?

Seeing the finished project fully dressed, be it a yacht a plane or a home.


Most of our greatest projects are so confidential and will never be seen.

What has been your greatest regret?

For every hour spent watching TV, I wish I’d been to an art show, a play or an opera.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by true creativity: when a team are trying to crack a problem and one person comes up with a new perspective entirely. As a business leader my purpose is to serve that creativity and make it flourish.

What was your big break?

It has been a smooth evolution until I switched from art to design. That was a big step for me.

What is your guiding principle?

Not to waste time and energy on factors which are out of my control.

Which living person do you most admire?

Anyone who serves the public and war reporters.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Aviation and sailing analogies get tiresome in my field.

What keeps you awake at night?

Packing for a multi stop business trip: I once had ski gear and an Abaya in the same suitcase.

What do you most value in your friends?

Loyalty and a sense of humour.

In a parallel life, what would you be doing?

I would be an opera singer, but dying on stage every night sounds exhausting.

What piece of advice would you give someone entering the luxury industry now?

Truly unique products and experiences will survive the digital age of enhanced reality and artificial intelligence.