Q&A with Daniel Hopwood, Studio Hopwood

Dan smallDaniel heads one of London’s leading interior design companies, Studio Hopwood, working mainly on high end residential properties plus the occasional hotel or restaurant. His knowledge and experience of 25 years has been recognised by the industry, having been elected as the President of the British Institute of Interior Design.


So Dan, what are your views on the commercial hospitality scene? Does it inspire the residential or residential inspire the commercial?

Hotels and restaurants have inspired people to do great things in their own home, but now I think the general public have become a little complacent to public design, especially as so much is achievable at home as there is so much available and at affordable costs. Today everyone believes they are a designer, this means that public spaces have to really push the boundary  and show what professional design is really about.

With hotels, I have stayed in a broad range of different types, from boutique to high end to budget I’ve seen them all, but often I feel empty when I stay in them, they offer no connection with their location.

I am quite anti-establishment, when I was at Decorex this year, I was involved in a web interview and I got asked what brands are going to move us forward? To which I replied, ‘No brands!’ We are all bored with the word brand and what it means. Right  now it’s about individualism and  provenance.  We are turning towards the handmade, luxury being  something that has had time and thought spent on it. Vintage and customised pieces are a fine example especially as no else will own one, thats special. I hope this is what hotel design move towards, making us feel unique and special.


So what do you think is going to be the new look?

The Future and an optimistic one! Looking forward instead of backwards. We have dwelt on mid-century long enough, the 80’s will glimmer for a while, especially Memphis style futuristic design and with its vibrant clashing colours. For everyday, domestic design it’s about grabbing what’s good value at the time then finding ways of making it sexy.

ab_hartley_jam_02I would like to see Edwardian or Victorian furniture being used more, it is so cheap at the moment and yet it is so beautifully made. I think it will come back in fashion, as long as people don’t bugger around with it, by upcycling it. In New York, I have seen brilliant examples , where they will have a very modern and slick interior and then drop in one beautiful piece, that does not connect with any of the other furniture, but in a way it highlights and showcases the piece. I see this as the next thing, us appreciating certain pieces from our past.

And how about hotels? 

I think hotels will move forward by creating different looks and personality in each space rather than one homogeneous look. Maybe using different designers with rooms having different styles, obviously you need to be clever about this, as you need to think about housekeeping etc.. But there is definitely scope for unique spaces and experiences.


Should hotels move to be more like homes?

One of the key things about hotel living, is a sense of community spirit, I don’t think staying in hotel is about staying in your room,  consequently rooms could be relatively simple. Instead  money spent on great lounges,  for guests to relax in and popular with locals would be a step ahead.

“People want to go to hotels to be seen, seen dining, seen socialising not shut away. We can do that at home.”

At the Sleep Event there was a lot discussion that was suggesting hotels are leaning towards being more like studio apartments but I’m not sure why.. People want to go to hotels to be seen, seen dining, seen socialising not shut away. We can do that at home.


So where do you go for your inspiration?

Inspiration is constant, it’s about being curious. The obvious places are theatre, music, fashion. However inspiration can be found everywhere, it’s about being constantly curious.


To give an example, I went to the Royal Academy for the summer exhibition last year and I saw this artist called Sean Scully who was making these big paintings with blocks of blacks and greys and I walked away thinking, right I have got something I could do here. And a project came up that happened to have a long wall that I needed to fill, so I just painted it in big blocks of grey, inspired by the artwork that I had seen. So that is where the inspiration comes from, it is more lateral. Looking at art and translating its emotion into to space.

“If you only look at space literally then you are only going to follow the trends instead of leading them.”


I travel around, going to Paris and Milan for the trade shows as well as London. There I get a real sense of the directions we are going design wise, for example, last year in Milan I saw that marble was being used again after years of being out of favour, the same with brass and gold, perhaps we are seeing the return of glamour? I especially enjoy visiting Milan, it’s so inspirational the whole city embraces the design week. Students to high end companies get involved even big companies sponsoring design installations just to be part of the creative atmosphere

I love looking at Pinterest but  it is deadly sin for designers but even more dangerous for clients, images get stuck in the imagination destroying the design process and even the evolution of design. In fact beware of relying too much on the internet you have to feel and touch finishes and furnishings, seeing products online is a very different experience form seeing them for real.


You can check out all of our ‘Designer Q&A’s’ in our ‘Features’ section. 



About Alys Bryan

Alys' experience as a furniture designer, along with her in-depth marketing knowledge, makes her uniquely placed to work with the BCFA as the Editor of Design Insider and run her marketing business, Method Communications.
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