Luxury Leaders | Iain Watson and Simon Rawlings celebrate 50 years at David Collins Studio
2018 is proving to be a defining year for the legendary David Collins Studio, with Founder and CEO Iain Watson celebrating his 30th anniversary at the Studio, and Creative Director Simon Rawlings celebrating his 20th.
This combined 50-year milestone is also marked by the launch of the Studio’s new website and branding (more on which can be read here), as well as this profile on Iain and Simon, who discuss what inspires them, their most memorable projects, and what the next few years holds for the award-winning luxury interior design brand.
How did you get involved with David Collins Studio?
Iain Watson: It was completely by chance that I got involved by meeting David Collins socially. At the time in the 1980’s(!), I had a very obsessive interest in fashion, architecture and design. Before that I had grown up with business very much over the dinner table with a family background in retail, manufacturing and products. With a shared vision for business within a few years the two of us had relocated and grown to a studio of 20.
Simon Rawlings: Upon completion of my masters in 1998, I decided to make a short and targeted list of design companies whose work inspired me, and I enjoyed. I appreciated the fact that David Collins Studio were creating environments which felt very real, authentic, original and timeless.
What inspires you?
IW: The talented team I work with are hugely inspiring and continue to work within the ethos of studio whilst attracting great new talent to importantly take the studio forward.
It has been inspiring over the past five years to see how Simon (Rawlings, Creative Director) and Lewis (Taylor, Design Director) have taken over the creativity of the studio as it continues to evolve and thrive. It is an exciting time to reflect on my 30 years, and Simon’s 20 years of combined work.
SR: Inspiration comes to me from anywhere and everywhere, you just need to be open minded. I have an incredible team around me, which never ceases to inspire – working closely with our Design Director Lewis Taylor, and with Iain, whose experience at the helm for the past 30 years is immeasurable.
I am also very lucky to travel a lot both on business, and pleasure. My wife also has immaculate taste, and exquisite knowledge of most things and is always able to guide me in a direction I would never consider.
What is the most memorable project you’ve been involved with?
IW: The most memorable project is more for me about the initial stage of research, where the team are immersed in a client’s brand, the location, the architecture or the ceremony of a project. It is a very exciting part of each project and it is fascinating to see how we analyse these areas and get inspiration.
SR: I always remember the fist time walking into 160 Piccadilly for the first time. The sheer scale was daunting, and so many unknown factors to how the architecture would easily convert into the vision. When it opened its doors as The Wolseley, it was a moment in my career when I knew I had chosen to work in the ultimate design studio.
What is your proudest achievement in your 20 / 30 year career at the studio?
IW: Over the 30 years it has been rewarding to facilitate the growth and expansion of the business. Seeing how the studio’s design DNA translates to infrastructure projects Far East and to products has been fascinating. Now the current opportunity is about our reach into new sectors – clients are continually intrigued by our deep understanding of the luxury customer journey.
SR: I feel very proud when I see people who have grown under our wings through the business go on to do brilliant things. Every day I try hard to motivate, educate and inspire the designers here. I love to share knowledge and experiences to make all of our designers creative and thoughtful in their roles.
What can we expect from David Collins Studio over the next few years?
IW: We are engaging in a large-scale maritime project, which is something totally new for the Studio, and having started some interesting product partnerships a few years ago we are looking to expand this. This is very interesting as there will be a wider furniture range available to the consumer, which previously had been limited to only those who were lucky enough to have their houses designed by us.
SR: The next few years will see some of our most significant projects to date. New cities, new sectors, and collaborations with some of the most important people in their fields.
Thank you to Iain and Simon, and to the team at David Collins’ Studio. Please click here for more: davidcollins.studio.
For details on the projects shown in this profile, please click here: David Collins’ imagery.