Charu Gandhi is the founder and director of Elicyon, a multi award-winning luxury interior design studio based in London. Since 2014, she’s worked on both residential and commercial projects in the UK and internationally, which recently included a 8,000 sqft apartment in the exclusive One Hyde Park development. Here, she tells us about starting up her own company and why having a trade account at AMARA is Elicyon’s superpower.
Did you always want to be an interior designer?
I had an innate interest in design growing up. I was the clichéd kid that played with Lego and origami and always had a creative flair, but this really came to the forefront when my parents bought a large home in India that they decided to build with a very creative vision. They hired a female architect who would bring along beautiful models and amazing drawings to the meetings and watching her work crystallized what I wanted to be.
How did you start your career?
I studied at the Architectural Association in London, and I had been practising architecture for several years at Allies & Morrison before I fell in love with interior design at Candy & Candy. In my role there, I worked on the private commissions team on projects in India and Africa, as well as residences in the prestigious One Hyde Park development in London. It opened my eyes to a whole host of particularly British makers and craftsmen.
Can you tell us the story of how you set up Elicyon?
I was offered a refurbishment project in the development at One Hyde Park. A couple of clients really believed in my vision and spurred me on to set up Elicyon. Within six weeks, I had somehow pulled together a small but mighty team and set to work. I really saw Elicyon as a chance to combine the rigours of my architectural training with a strong creative flair and passion for design and craft.
Where do you find inspiration for a project?
My architectural background remains a constant source of inspiration – I am mainly inspired by 20th century architects onwards ranging from Carlos Scarpa to Tadao Ando and Oscar Niemeyer. I find myself returning to mid-century, art deco and Biedermeier periods very often for furniture inspiration. But I then will often dip into other eras and stylistic influences from around the world. Our work as a studio is largely inspired by the story of the property though, and the people that occupy it. I aim to create ‘exquisite interior couture’, something that really speaks to the clients’ dreams and aspirations for their home and that evokes a very particular feeling that is appropriate to the space.
What’s your design process when working with a new client?
To be a good designer serving the clientele that we work with, you need to have an innate interest in people and the way in which they live or aspire to live within their home. I find the process of working with individuals and characters to bring out their individual expression - be it through private collections, hobbies, ways of living – one of the most delightful aspects of my work and a cornerstone of my design philosophy. Our process as a team is very much journey-based, and it’s one we are constantly refining based on the client brief and the overall concept.
You work on projects in the UK but also internationally. What things do you have to bear in mind for overseas clients?
It’s important we play close attention to the local customs and the ways of living for our overseas clients, to be respectful and appropriate. Our motto is ‘stay local, think global’, so we look closely at what local art, craft, and innovation we can involve in the project, while also being aware that we can bring some amazing craftsmanship over from Britain. Logistics and being very organized is so important when working internationally.
What are the benefits of having an AMARA trade account?
With our dynamic process and fast-moving projects, it’s really useful to have the trade relationship at AMARA to support us. We can give our account manager a brief and she’ll send through options for us. She knows exactly what we’re looking for - it’s like having a remote member of the team. Everyone in the trade team is efficient, friendly and reliable, the prices are great, and having end-to-end deliveries and returns (if needed) makes my job much easier.
What do you like best about shopping at AMARA?
Browsing the website is almost a guilty pleasure. The range of brands and the number of products at AMARA means it works for every kind of project, and you won’t be disappointed at checkout as most of the items are in stock and ready for next day delivery. Any pieces that don’t work, you can easily return.
Which brands from AMARA do you find yourself using in projects time and time again?
What’s been your favourite project to date?
I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite project as each design we create is so personal and special, it makes it impossible to pinpoint one scheme. We have just completed a large 8,000 sqft apartment within One Hyde Park for an art collector, inspired by the whitewashed tones and materials of Ibiza and Mykonos. We finished the walls with polished plaster by Calfe Crimmings and bleached the existing oak woodwork and joinery to create a bright and airy space interspersed with pops of vivid colour such as Yves Klein blue and acid yellow. The art collection heavily inspired our choices in terms of materials, furnishings and the colour palette used.
What exciting projects do you have coming up?
We are working on an incredible lake house in the English countryside, a large family home in West London and a penthouse at Battersea Power Station. Further afield, we are currently working on two private projects in Dubai, looking at projects in the South of France and continuing our foray into yacht design.