By Charlotte Butterfield
Hailing originally from Atlanta, TVS Interiors has now expanded into the Middle Eastern design field with a recently-launched Dubai base
CID: What led you personally down the path of commercial interior design?
I originally wanted to be an artist; however, my father encouraged me to select a career in which I could support myself. My older brother, the artist, suggested interior design and helped me select a top school that had a design program within a school of architecture with a strong respect for both professions. After graduation, I pursued a job within an architectural firm, which became the basis for my commercial interior design career.
CID: What does TVS specialise in?
BW: We work on a wide variety of projects including: Corporate, retail, hospitality, public assembly, cultural arts, government, and higher education. Our work includes almost every market segment except residential and health care, although we have done both in limited quantities in the past.
CID: Can you give us a brief rundown of your recent completed projects and what concepts you went for in each?
Some of our most recent projects include a corporate office in Dubai, a spa in North Carolina, and an aquarium in Georgia. Our design concept for the corporate office was to create a progressive space reflecting the energy, culture and sophistication of the international company. The typical floor plan was designed for a high performance company operating in a very open and collaborative environment. We just completed the design phase and the project is currently under construction. Our Hospitality Studio created a spa in Hilton Head, North Carolina. The design team used luxurious materials that are representative of extreme quality and indulgence. As you can imagine the material palate was one that every designer would envy. The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world in total square footage, number of fish (over 100,000) and in the amount of water (more than eight million gallons). The design team focused on the concept of immersion; wrapping visitors in the underwater world from start to finish while they interact with the world’s most incredible ocean creatures.
CID: Would you say that your individual style can be described in a few words?
My design style favours a clean modernist approach, yet varies with the project opportunity and aspiration of the client. In all cases, a distinct concept with great proportions, memorable details and refined materials in an effort to achieve design excellence is the objective.
CID: Is there a TVS house style?
As Steve mentioned, design excellence is always the goal when working on a project. Rather than having a ‘TVS style’, it is the individual style and visions of our clients which most greatly influences our designs. Because no two clients are ever the same, our style must continually evolve and adapt to our client’s needs.
CID: Why is TVS expanding into Dubai?
Our first project in the Middle East was a retail facility in 1996. Since then our client base has increased to a point that our firm opened an architecturally based office in Dubai to more efficiently provide service to our clients. This office has provided an opportunity for TVS Interiors to market our services as well. We also recognise the unique opportunities in the Middle East and we have a staff that is eager and has the energy to explore these opportunities.
CID:What differences are you experiencing in Dubai compared to the US in terms of client demands and building or design practices?
The interior practice is still in the early stages of developing a client base and learning the operational nuances for this region. However, we have experienced accelerated schedules similar to those seen in the US in years past. With these schedules comes an intense sense of urgency and a desire to create instantly.
CID: Are you facing new challenges that are particular to the Middle East?
The project schedule, the time difference between offices, and learning a new culture are the largest challenges that come to mind. We try to take advantage of the time difference by working around the clock between different time zones. With an 8-9 hour time difference it is almost like a shift change.
Communications between locations occur primarily at the beginning and end of the day for each location. Additionally, having a diverse employee base with some from the Middle East helps bridge the cultural differences.
CID: What is your favourite project that you have worked on?
I have several projects that are my favourite; however, I like the story behind the Carter’s corporate office. Carter’s creates children’s clothing and they were relocating from the suburbs to the city. Because of the forthcoming move, company leaders were very concerned with the retention of their employees.
They hired TVS Interiors and a branding company to work together to create a space that would reflect who they are and what they represent. We created an office space with a background that allowed them to showcase their product. The space includes a staircase that connects three floors and encourages communication. The staircase was designed like a tree house when you reached the top floor. When the client relocated into their new space, they were able to retain all of their employees.
I actually have two. One is the new showroom for Interface Flooring which became the first Platinum Certified LEED project in the world under the guidelines of the US Green Building Council as a Commerical Interiors facility.
The project afforded some outstanding design with a commitment to environmental stewardship. The second project was the new Georgia Aquarium, the largest facility of its type in the world. Architecture and interior design collaborated to create an extraordinary experience for visitors to see amazing world sealife.
CID: With such a diverse portfolio, how do you keep your ideas fresh and exciting?
Every project is approached as a unique opportunity. The inspiration comes from the client, the physical space influences, the personality of the users, the cultural location and the brand identity of the company and the strong desire to create an original environment.
CID: What would you say are the current trends for commercial interior design?
Sustainability is the biggest change that we have seen over the last ten years. Young designers are more aware when they enter the field after graduation and help encourage everyone to think about the environment. The other change that we have seen is the availability and use of new materials. The need for green materials has created new products which otherwise may not have been available.
There is also strong objective to demonstrate that the desire to create sustainable designs does not the diminish the opportunity of creating beautiful interiors.
CID: What do you predict for the future of commercial interior design? What trends can you forsee emerging in the next ten years?
Commercial interior design has a very promising future. It promises to have even greater technology integration and intellectual conveniences for the occupants and user. Core design principles will continue to be critical as we will continue to design to support people. It is not unlike the evolution of our luxury automobiles. Interior design will truly be a blend of architecture, interior design, and industrial design.