For Paul Levy, the joy in his work as an interior architect comes from creating something truly bespoke. “It starts with the first meeting,” he says. “My client will tell me about their dream bathroom, library or dining room – maybe they want a ‘wow’ factor, or perhaps they desire the room to be peaceful and calm. There’s always something driving the design. I find out what that is and start drawing sketches, taking my lead from them.” From Paul’s sketches come unique cabinets, joinery and fireplaces – sometimes featuring ornate plasterwork, gilding and marquetry – all hand-carved, custom-made and expertly fitted by his team of craftsmen.
The designer – a corporate member of the British Institute of Interior Design – applies a similar creative process to his chinaware. “A client can choose from a range of pre-existing shapes for their porcelain, but the design is bespoke to them,” says Paul. “Even if they want something similar to an existing pattern, I always look for a personal element to include – perhaps a coat of arms, or a monogram, or a particular flower that is special to them.” Each design is a true one-off. “That’s the kind of challenge I really enjoy with every project I do,” he says, “making something unique for each client.”
Paul began working on interiors in the 1970s while helping to restore an 18th-century Swiss mansion. “I was surrounded by beautiful craftsmanship and I just loved it,” he says. After working mainly in bathroom design, he set up his own company in the UK.
Electronic devices now fill people’s homes and Paul has developed ways to incorporate screens and sound systems into a room without compromising on style. “You can have a very elaborate, period-style design but you still have to fit in all the hi-tech equipment,” he says. “That can sometimes be a challenge, and it’s a challenge that I relish.”
But Paul enjoys getting all the details right. “I still get a real buzz when I go into a room and see it all finished and dressed,” he says. “Something that started out as just a sketch is now a real thing. It’s such an amazing feeling when you see your client’s eyes light up at what you’ve created. That’s the very best thing about what I do.”