Luxury Leader | Louisa Richter von Morgenstern, Founder, m squared
Louisa Richter von Morgenstern is one of the most experienced project managers in the UK. Having founded her first practice in 2001, she was several years ahead of the concept of having a dedicated project manager in the luxury sector of the construction industry.
Louisa’s knowledge of construction contracts is extensive and in-depth, having personally drafted amendments. She also has an unbroken track record of success in obtaining planning and listed building consents. Louisa’s portfolio includes the beautiful Lutyens designed Maison Assouline on Piccadilly and some of London and the South East’s finest private residences.
WHAT DOES BRITISH LUXURY MEAN TO YOU?
Timeless is the first word that springs to mind, and essence. I think that British brands have a tangible spirit that identifies them as British; a certain air about them. The British brand of luxury has a truly timeless aesthetic and I am fortunate enough to work with some spectacular buildings and interiors. Our project, Maison Assouline, is such a perfect example; so often I see people walking in and they simply stop and look up in awe at their surroundings. Clients are so well travelled these days that luxury, architecture and interiors have become so much about culture. Albeit French, when I first had the idea for m squared, ‘haute couture’ is what came to mind. I wanted to build a British luxury brand in a sector that was not known for luxury branding.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR M SQUARED?
It’s vitally important to question the way things are done and I’m not afraid to be subversive in a positive way and do things a little differently. Whilst there is huge value in experience, there’s no sense in simply repeating what has already been done; that’s not enough and we need to evolve. I like to question what is being taken for granted and I am constantly looking at how we can deliver and do something better. That includes not only better management processes, it encompasses a much wider net of culture, communication and cooperation at all levels; a quantum shift in how we operate and co-operate. Our world is highly specialised and very technical; from the complex operational demands of a retail or hospitality environment, to the technicalities of a recording studio or the requirements of a country estate, my vision is to empower our clients to take control. As Alice in Wonderland said, “it would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE FUTURE OF LUXURY?
For us it has always been the case that when a client comes to us, their inspiration is often drawn from their own immersive experience around the globe and they are often inspired by having stayed in some of the most beautiful hotels in the world. Our market is so global and Britain remains a very attractive place to operate in, to live in and invest. This is a trend that I have seen develop over the past eighteen years and I expect it to continue as architecture and design continue to evolve, inspire and amaze. Luxury may ultimately appear aspirational but it is all about the experience. It’s about delivering at the highest possible level, for which there will always be demand. The requirement will be, as it always has been, to meet that demand.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Everything inspires me. If you are tuned in you have to be fully tuned in. I don’t think that you can, by definition, be only partially tuned in. I read a lot and I’m always immersed in art and architecture. I also find great inspiration in photography and I compose music in my spare time. Of course, other business leaders inspire me and there is always much to study and observe about the approach that others have taken toward developing their businesses. Creative processes are just as much about the process, not just the end result, and I love the creative process.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIG BREAK?
I didn’t have a big break per se, I recall that it was more a case of spending about three years knocking on doors. It was a slow and steady process of building up experience and contacts and then eventually something gave and I got my first big contract in Belgravia, in London. I flew to Monaco to meet the client and persuaded them to award me the contract. I just didn’t give up and I had this fundamental belief that I could do something good for my clients.
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE ENTERING THE LUXURY INDUSTRY NOW?
Firstly, listen and keep listening. Observe constantly and learn everything you can about the luxury industry and your market in particular. Develop a very keen understanding of what your clients want and expect and always strive to give your very best performance. Secondly, observe and learn from the best. And finally, care. A great client of mine once said “there are two types of people in this world, those who care and those who don’t, and that’s all you need to know.” I think that she was right.
IN A PARALLEL LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Exactly what I am doing now, except I might create just one or two more hours in the day.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE LUXURY?
Every year I try to take time out at a destination wellness spa and I have just returned from Euphoria in the south of Greece. It is beautifully designed and is located in a simply stunning setting. It is essential for me to take time out to completely rest and re-charge. I need to have quite time to switch off, walk in the mountains, contemplate and re-calibrate. Then I come back with renewed energy, drive and ideas.