WIN Awards 2019: Fanø Summerhouse

We are delighted to announce that international interior designers Tollgard Design Group are the very proud recipients of a SILVER MEDAL at the coveted WIN awards!

Win Wan Awards, international interior designer Staffan Tollgård

The WAN Awards (powered by World Architecture News) and the WIN Awards (powered by World Interiors News) have been shining a spotlight on the very best architecture and interior design from across the globe for more than 10 years. 

This year’s Awards culminated with a spectacular event at the Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch this October, showcasing the shortlists for both the WAN Awards and the WIN Awards and providing an amazing opportunity to delve deeper into the stories behind some of the projects on display.

Says international interior designer Staffan, “The standard of competition was, quite frankly, humbling. We were delighted to be presented with this WIN award and would like to thank our incredible clients for their faith in us, as well as the creative genius of Knud Holscher for the design journey of a lifetime.”

Another key partner in the creative collaboration were cabinet makers KBH. Staffan and his London-based design team relished the opportunity to work with the Danish craftsmen and bring truly local expertise to the project, drawing a red thread through functional sculpture, joinery, kitchen and furniture. Using solid and veneered oak

Read what WIN had to say about the event here and view the project in our online portfolio.

Shortlisted for Interior Designer of the Decade

What an honour for Tollgard Design Group to have been shortlisted by The International Design & Architecture Awards for their ultimate accolade: the Global Interior Designer of The Decade Award.

interior designer of the decade

So let us take you on a journey through time as we look back on all of the shortlisted and award-winning projects over our last decade of interior design.

Coombe Hill Mansion

Coombe Hill Mansion: Winner 2012

A contemporary Arts and Crafts mansion on the outskirts of London. With apparently conflicting client requirements of a boutique interior combined with a fun family home, the challenge was to reconcile these elements in a design with overarching coherence.

The luxury boutique requirement was broadly a wish for chic, stylish interiors, but it also became apparent that there were two separate elements within it – public entertaining vs. private retreat.  We decided to interpret these distinct requirements in the interior design using a combination of impressive ‘public’ statement pieces set against a backdrop of calming spa-like features. 

We achieved the boutique retreat feel primarily through careful use of materials, predominantly pure and calming natural stone and wood which, in line with Arts and Crafts aesthetics, were displayed in a simple form to reveal the materials’ inherent natural variation and beauty.  The key natural materials – walnut, limestone, basalt (and, to a lesser degree, quartzitic slate) – were used throughout the property as a unifying element. 

Through this consistent use of materials in the interior architecture and joinery, along with the introduction of an Arts and Craft inspired decorative motif we achieved the overall stylistic unification of the house.  The motif in particular allowed us greater freedom to delineate the separate areas using differing furniture styles and colour, whilst still retaining a feeling of overarching coherence, from the large scale architectural elements and finishes, right down to the furniture, soft furnishings and artwork.  The considered approach to full scale unification of the house provided the clients with a highly unique, bespoke and boutique interior, with which they were thrilled.

To view more of the Coombe Hill Mansion project – click here

Quinta Do Lago: Winner 2012

A sculptural, innovative, dynamic architect’s vision realised on Portugal’s sunshine coast. With huge spans of glass, concrete and stone, the challenge was to bring colour and life to this temple of light.

The clients wanted a very modern, dynamic interior to match the architect’s bold vision. The house is incredibly eye catching – people stop their cars, golfers pause mid-game to look at it. The architect, Armando Guerreiro, has created a house to look at, and look out of – glass is the house’s most significant material, and the clients emphasized again and again the importance of light in our meetings.

Key to Tollgard Design Group’s philosophy is the Scandinavian notion of the ‘red thread’. The thread is the guiding principle of creative endeavour and what ultimately gives each design we work on a sense of coherence and continuity. The client’s obvious and avowed love of art and sculpture and their appreciation of furniture as crafted, designed pieces – functional sculptures- provided an early avenue of inspiration.

Concrete, glass, stone, some wood: the building blocks of the house were key to working out our argument for the softness, colour and warmth we needed to add to this bold new 21st century villa. Everything that we added to this sparse palette had to give the client’s pleasure. We wanted to exceed their expectations: of us as designers, and of their new home and modern lifestyle. We therefore added the architect’s dynamic motif to the interior architecture of doors and used the same material for the bespoke joinery we designed. We added colour in a bold, graphic way, introducing it almost as an architectural material. We worked with the same vision that the architect brought to the project, and in this way married the inside of the building with its innovative architecture.

As designers, we are extremely proud of the project, and overjoyed that the clients are too. It has become more than a holiday house for our clients. It is a home that they love, and return to whenever they are able to. That is more than we could have hoped for. This email was sent to us during the project:
“As I have said before, you and your team have made this whole project
so easy for us. You have given us great ideas and steered us in right
direction and the end result will be a wonderful villa which we could not
have managed without you. Walking into Staffan Tollgård’s office was
the best thing we could have done!”

To view more of the Quinta Do Lago project – click here

Tollgard Showroom: Shortlisted 2014

A unique hybrid of retail environment and design practice, the Design Store offers a new retail experience: personalised, calm and complete.

This year’s crowning achievement for architectural interior design practice Staffan Tollgård Design Group was the opening of their SW1 Design Store. The ambitious fit-out transformed the flagship commercial space on the Grosvenor Waterside docks into a stunning studio & retail space over 9 short weeks.

The Store was designed to be a window into the world of the residential interiors that the Group is internationally recognised for, as well as a creative & inspiring workspace. Function was at the heart of the design brief, and the creation of a mezzanine space to house the Group’s 20-strong design team added space for a working kitchen and dining area, two bathrooms, a cinema and a bedroom. Literally a home-away-from-home for the family-run practice, the Store has been mistaken for a very high-end apartment on more than one occasion by passersby keen to acquire it.

The ‘red thread’ or DNA of the interior was the Group’s own unique blend of bold, contemporary design: the architectural layering of textures, functional sculpture in the form of furniture and lighting, strong injections of colour.

The suppliers used in the Store represent the best in their fields: each material and item from the poured concrete floor, Austrian barn-wood cladding and architectural lighting to the invisible wall speakers are available for sale and specification.

The ethos of the store is that: ‘Great design holds a story. Come and tell us yours’.

To view more of the Tollgard Showroom project – click here

Totteridge House

Totteridge House: Shortlisted 2014

A dramatic modernisation of a handsome family home, together with David Gibson Architects, has resulted in openplan and intersecting living spaces that hinge on the striking sculptural staircase. Repeated architectural and decorative refrains of glass, natural and stained wood, large format ceramics, together with contemporary lighting features create a bold and inviting home.

We were engaged to provide a full interior design specification for this renovation of an existing family home.We began work with the project in fully-fledged construction: a challenging time-line for all parties concerned.With the architectural design of the house under control, the clients wanted a full interior design specification comprising materials, finishes, bathrooms (including layouts, specification and finishes), lighting, joinery and all the FF&E. With a young family (with twins on the way), the clients wanted the interiors to reflect their fun family life and their love of design.

They wanted to make the most of the space that the new house would afford them: a huge open plan living area would be used for entertaining and movie nights with the kids; a family kitchen would see regular gatherings of 10 and more. The dining room needed to seat as many as possible and be linked with the living room beyond.

Taking inspiration from the architect’s creation of double-height spaces in the entrance area the designers created a lighting design with Moooi’s Raimond pendants taking centre stage. Visible from the first and ground floors they are functional, modern sculptures: sleek and minimal, adding to the ‘red thread’ of linear geometry that runs through the house.

“Every design decision asked whether the client’s personality was being captured: had we made an unusual decision or stuck with the norm? If the latter we reviewed it until we were happy that the house reflected a dynamic and inspiring couple with a house to match. The colour scheme ties the architectural finishes together and adds another layer of life and character. ”

To view more of the Totteridge House project – click here

knightsbridge penthouse

Knightsbridge Penthouse: Winner 2015

A luxurious contemporary lateral living space on a prestigious square through the refurbishment and integration of two separate Queen Anne apartments. 

Exquisite detail and the exceptional layered selection of textures and materials combine to create a luxurious contemporary lateral living space. Dramatic doors and passages accentuate the elegant fusion of properties into one stately home. Every feature carefully considered and executed.

We worked together with Peek Architects to create a functional, luxurious and rational spatial arrangement of the space: a series of layouts that felt as though the apartment had always existed, rather than two separate spaces that had been summarily bolted together. Our role as Interior Designers comprised of the selection and specification of the architectural finishes throughout the apartment, detailed design of the bathrooms and joinery together with the full FF&E design. 

Lighting designers Xavio Lighting played an important part in the project, with the technical elements of the home automation and architectural lighting under their scope of works. Selection of the decorative fittings throughout was given to us, though, and the final piece of the puzzle saw us able to choose the final artworks from the client’s own extended collection. 

To view more of the Knightsbridge Penthouse project – click here

london based interior designer

Notting Hill Paradise: Shortlisted 2017

A thoughtful, elegant yet playful family home that captures the essence of Notting Hill life in a sleek architectural nutshell. The heart of Notting Hill is at once traditional and iconoclastic, home to the established and the irreverent. Important, imposing homes stand side-by-side with pastel-painted mews houses, the mix creating an exuberant, energetic melting pot representative of London living at its best. This impressive home on one of Notting Hill’s most beautiful communal gardens was designed to capture these contrasting elements as family developers Thornsett together with Capital Architects and interior designers Tollgard Design Group brought this already handsome home into the 21st century. 

In architectural terms the house was sensitively extended with a new basement adding to its already generous footprint. We carved out a modern, family home over five floors, giving each its own visual and functional identity linked through a clean architectural palette. The brief from the development team was to create a liveable family home with the appropriate gravitas and formality in some of the key entertaining spaces, with all the creature comforts of modern living carefully concealed. Thus, on the ground floor the scene is set with the palette of dark herringbone floors, bespoke joinery, and dramatic sculptural pendants. On the family floor below, though, the atmosphere is lighter and more tropical as the open-plan kitchen, dining and living room extend out into the private garden space beyond. One floor lower and the cinema and wine room create intimate and cosy entertaining spaces. The top three floors contain a luxurious master suite and four further ensuite bedrooms.

Tollgard Design Group are great believers in honest luxury. This home uses solid, valuable materials in a clean, architectural, and truthful way – and the outcome is refreshingly authentic. The house is as open as we could make it, (without breaking out in the neighbouring houses.) The spaces are well-thought through, with a clear sense of the family that would need to live and move through them. There is a lot of storage… something the designers have learnt you can never have too much of. There is drama in the rooms that demand it – the beautiful Fiori di Bosco marble in the master bathroom making a bold statement against the clean lines of the bath and basins.

To view more of the Notting Hill Paradise project – click here

knightsbridge london interior design

Knightsbridge Splendour: Shortlisted 2017

The prized ingredients of a grand family home have been laterally re-strung to create a unique and contemporary masterpiece on an iconic London crescent. Lateral luxury presents a logistical and geographical problem for the London property market. On the one hand, property developers are meeting the demands of modern buyers for wide, open living spaces on one floor by building new buildings. On the other hand, some still crave the grandeur, romance, and importance of buildings from a previous age, nestled in the heart of London’s most prized locations. These buildings are not wide, and staircases are architecturally ubiquitous. This apartment in one of London’s most sought-after Knightsbridge garden crescent offers another answer.

By combining four apartments, three of them showcased in one beautifully rhythmic series of entertaining spaces across a single floor, Tollgard Design Group have helped create a new form of luxury lateral living on an iconic crescent. The apartment’s listed building status proved a catalyst for design innovation; our design team worked with PEEK Architecture + Design, scrutinising layout permutations in order to rationalise a living experience that could perfectly meet the logistical and social demands of an unknown buyer.

Tollgard Design Group were respectful of the architectural integrity of each apartment; reinstating original fireplaces, maintaining ceiling beams, cornices and the cellular structure of the original spaces. Yet through a judicious selection of contemporary finishes also created a new, coherent design journey, moving from a lighter to darker palette in the entertaining to the more private spaces, a play on light and shade that has created significant interest and drama.

From four neighbouring apartments in three adjacent buildings the designers effectively and efficiently altered the orientation from portrait to landscape, offering a discerning audience an enfilade of three grand entertaining spaces; master suite with separate dressing areas; 5 further ensuite bedrooms, private study, wellness area comprising gym, massage room, sauna and steam rooms and an outdoor terrace housed in an annexed lower ground capsule apartment. The prized components of a grand family home have been laterally re-strung to create a unique and contemporary masterpiece.

To view more of the Knightsbridge Splendour project – click here

Batman's penthouse

Batman’s Penthouse: Shortlisted 2019

An iconic penthouse for a modern-day Gatsby. Dramatic materials applied with contemporary flair and architectural discipline elevate one of London’s finest residences. Or – ‘Let me entertain you…’ Two apartments in the treeline of one of London’s most famous garden squares have been exuberantly integrated to create an iconic penthouse.

Our brief was to wow. In a cool, non-ostentatious but decidedly show-stopping way. Our client tasked us with the integration of two existing apartments set in the 3rd and 4th floors of one of London’s most prestigious garden squares. Working closely with Peek Architecture + Design we carved out a new penthouse comprising 5 ensuite bedrooms, reception & dining rooms, chef’s kitchen, media room and two technology-fuelled terraces that look towards London’s cityscape.

‘Let me entertain you …’ demanded Robbie Williams. He might have had our penthouse in mind. The directive to entertain was never far from our minds when we started to pull together the red thread for this apartment that was designed to host a thousand parties.

To view more of the Batman Penthouse project – click here

Fanø summer house

Fanø Summer House: Shortlisted 2019

‘Only connect’. The Fanø Summer House fuses architecture, interiors and environment. It is a place to decompress, to connect as a family and appreciate the bigger, more important picture.

The island of Fanø has always been a special place for the clients and their family: the Danish-born wife spent her summers as a child there, and in turn her family has owned a summer house there for over a decade. The family fell in love with the simple yet striking buildings that architect Knud Holscher had completed in the past. Having worked with Staffan Tollgård on their home and commercial premises in London, they invited him to join their design journey.

The summer house is a coherent, hard-working family house that has evolved from its setting and from the clients’ clear vision of how to embrace and enjoy this environment. It is a house that puts family life first – and as a design practice that specialises in designing for families this was our favourite aspect of the project.

Fanø is a place to decompress, to connect with nature, to put down cell phones and look out at the bigger, more important picture. To be with their children, to be more at peace and live a simpler life. These were the client’s hopes and dreams for their sand dune retreat. The amount of time they are drawn back to it, is testimony to its success.

To view more of the Fanø project – click here

This Decade of Design

Looking through these projects has elicited an unexpected mixture of pride and delight. It’s brought back some of the highs and lows we have experienced along the way too … design is a journey of passion and grit, of dedication to detail and to the goal of helping our clients lead better lives through the homes we create for them. We keep in mind something that Alain de Botton so beautifully expressed in his book ‘ The Architecture of Happiness, when he said that

“Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or worse, different people in different places – and on the conviction that it is architecture’s task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be”.

We are truly honoured to have been shortlisted for the Interior Designer of The Decade award, and for the recognition that we have faithfully and painstakingly ‘rendered vivid’ the lives of our clients over these last ten years through the language of design.

To read some of our latest news choose from below:

Design et Al 2019 Awards

We’re proud to announce that Tollgard Design Group was shortlisted for not one but two ‘Design et Al’ interior design awards: the Interior Design Award for Europe & the London City Space Award.

Fanø Summer House: Interior Design SchemeEurope Award

‘Only connect!’ The Fanø Summer House fuses architecture, interiors and environment. It is a place to decompress, to connect as a family and appreciate the bigger, more important picture.

The island of Fanø has always been a special place for the clients: the Danish-born wife spent her summers as a child there, and her family has owned a summer house there for over a decade. The family had fallen in love with renowned architect Knud Holscher’s simple yet striking buildings, and, having worked with Staffan Tollgård on their home and commercial premises, they invited him to join their design journey. Born and raised in Stockholm, the idea of the summer house retreat is one that speaks strongly to Staffan’s own childhood and values. “We visit our summer house as often as we can. When designing the interiors of Fanø, I was determined to connect it as coherently to the landscape as possible: to create a retreat from city life that extended to the choice of every material and piece of furniture”.

Batman’s Penthouse: City Space – London Award:

‘Let me entertain you … ‘ Two apartments in the treeline of a famous Knightsbridge garden square have been exuberantly integrated to create a penthouse fit for a dark knight.

Our brief was to wow. In a cool, non-ostentatious but decidedly show-stopping way. Our client tasked us with the integration of two existing apartments set in the 3rd and 4th floors of one of London’s most prestigious garden squares. Working closely with Peek Architecture + Design we carved out a new penthouse comprising 5 ensuite bedrooms, reception & dining rooms, chef’s kitchen, media room and two technology-fuelled terraces that look towards London’s cityscape. The final result reflects the vision of an exceptional client willing to trust his design team to push creative boundaries, to test new materials, to go beyond the expected and satisfactory. The design works so well because it expresses that more can indeed be more if the quality of thought and execution are rigorous and painstaking.


The Interior Design ‘Design et Al’ Europe Award: Fanø Summerhouse

‘Only connect’. The Fanø Summer House fuses architecture, interiors and environment. It is a place to decompress, to connect as a family and appreciate the bigger, more important picture.

Design et Al

The island of Fanø has always been a special place for the clients and their family: the Danish-born wife spent her summers as a child there, and in turn her family has owned a summer house there for over a decade. The family fell in love with the simple yet striking buildings that architect Knud Holscher had completed in the past. Having worked with Staffan Tollgård on their home and commercial premises in London, they invited him to join their design journey.

Born and raised in Stockholm, the idea of the summer house retreat is one that speaks strongly to Staffan’s own childhood and values. “I take my own children back to our family’s summer house on the lake as often as I can. The connection with nature and the escape from city life act as a reset button for all of us. When designing the interiors of Fanø, I was determined to connect it as coherently to the landscape as possible: to create a retreat from city life that extended to the choice of every material and piece of furniture”.

The Scandinavian notion of the red thread is one that Staffan uses in every project as a shorthand to describe the creative design DNA. Pulling together clues from the architecture, from the cultural history, environment, from the client’s own personalities and the questions of living that need to be solved by the design, the red thread draws a protective framework around the project, linking architecture with interiors, client with design.

For this project the red thread was the visual and sensory connection with a uniquely Danish natural setting. This was expressed by fusing inside with outside as seamlessly as possible, using vernacular and true materials as simply as possible. Comfortable, functional minimalism was the goal so that the clients could enjoy every space to its fullest and detach from the buzz of city life left behind.

Design et Al

Family Values

The summer house is a coherent, hard-working family house that has evolved from its setting and from the clients’ clear vision of how to embrace and enjoy this environment. It is a house that puts family life first – and as a design practice that specialises in designing for families this was our favourite aspect of the project.

The key ingredients of the house are deliberately low-maintenance: one of the decisions to use a natural-looking ceramic floor tile was based on this connection between inside and outside that had to be managed (in order to be enjoyed!). Lots of sand and water get tracked into the house by the kids as well as the family Portuguese water-dog. Decisions to use low maintenance, easygoing fabrics and bullet-proof floor tiles allow the family to genuinely relax together and use the spaces in an unpressurised way.

Design et Al

The layouts of the open-plan living room encourage people to sit down together, enjoy the view, play board games, cards or just chat. The TV is hidden for most of the time in a bespoke cabinet so it’s deliberately not the focal point of the room.

The two seating areas are anchored and connected by a double-sided modular sofa from Living Divani. Neutral, slubby linens are the base layer for the fabric design, accented by teal backed cushions from UK designer Eleanor Pritchard whose designs have a decidedly mid-century feel to them. The mirrored seating areas tell stories of two eras of Danish design history. On the one side, KBH’s sculptural armchairs are certainly a future design classic. On the other side near the fireplace, two Carl Hansen lounge chairs whisper their firmly established design pedigree.

It’s a room all about connection: strengthening family life through shared hobbies and easy-living spaces, delighting through a love of design: Danish and further afield, connecting with the seascape beyond and nature’s call to be at one with the world.

A perfect marriage of architecture and interiors

The design fully answers the client’s brief of creating a retreat that puts family life first through a strong connection with nature, and by designing in the opportunities for a family to connect with each other. There is a seemingly effortless connection between the interior and exterior architecture, and then between inside and outside. For so many of our projects we insert a contemporary interior into a 300-year-old building. Of course, the juxtaposition created by this has its merits. Here though, it was enormously satisfying to create the interiors in real time alongside a world-renowned architect crafting a modern dwelling entirely fit for purpose.

Design et Al

For Staffan it has been the project of a lifetime: “I left Stockholm for the UK more than half my life ago and have worked on design projects in Asia, America, the Middle East and all over Europe.

Here is a family who have lived internationally for years but whose souls also long for home – the design journey into this shared heritage was all the more rewarding.

The hero of the piece

The house and its interiors were explicitly designed to reflect and lionise the exterior setting. It is the hero of the piece in a way that most of our projects are not allowed to be. A few, very carefully curated materials were selected so as to blend into the environment and make sure that attention is never deflected away from the view.

The external cladding of the private wing becomes the internal backdrop of the entertaining wing, the same material (oak) then used in an unstained format in the kitchen, bathroom cabinets and wardrobes. A large format, roughly textured neutral floor tile is used throughout the house on floors and in the bathroom walls, making the inter-connected spaces feel even larger. Large floor-toceiling windows frame curated views into the landscape, almost like still lives. Exposed brickwork on the chimney breast expresses the truth to materials so common in Scandinavian design. The natural world, or materials as close as possible to nature bring the outside in at every key junction and design decision.

Design et Al

KBH: key collaborators

An important design decision was made early on to work with Copenhagen-based atelier KBH on the bespoke kitchen, wardrobes and bathroom cabinets, ensuring an easy flow of materials through room to room. Hand-etched lava stone for the basin tops from Italian atelier Made a Mano introduces subtle geometric patterns, an example of how natural materials are elevated through craft and subtly layered to create interest.

The collaboration with KBH also resulted in some key functional sculptures that act as room dividers, furniture and social magnets and continue the expression of the red thread. The open plan living and dining spaces are gently zoned using a cabinet on stand that can be accessed from both sides: bar, TV cabinet as well as storage for games and hobbies. Continuing this multi-functional theme, the dining table effortlessly becomes a ping pong table – one of the family’s shared passions.

Famous last words …

Fanø is a place to decompress, to connect with nature, to put down cell phones and look out at the bigger, more important picture. To be with their children, to be more at peace and live a simpler life. These were the client’s hopes and dreams for their sand dune retreat. The amount of time they are drawn back to it, is testimony to its success.

The London City Space ‘Design et Al’ Award: Batman’s Penthouse

Two apartments in the treeline of a famous Knightsbridge garden square have been exuberantly integrated to create a penthouse fit for a dark knight.

Our brief was to wow. In a cool, non-ostentatious but decidedly show-stopping way. Our client tasked us with the integration of two existing apartments set in the 3rd and 4th floors of one of London’s most prestigious garden squares. Working closely with Peek Architecture + Design we carved out a new penthouse comprising 5 ensuite bedrooms, reception & dining rooms, chef’s kitchen, media room and two technology-fuelled terraces that look towards London’s cityscape.

‘Let me entertain you …’ demanded Robbie Williams. He might have had our penthouse in mind. The directive to entertain was never far from our minds when we started to pull together the red thread for this apartment that was designed to host a thousand parties and to display prized collections of wine, art and contemporary design icons.

A glass elevator rises through the apartment straight into the penthouse. The floors are divided into one floor that sleeps, and one that, like Las Vegas, never will. The architectural revelation was the exposure and integration of the building’s vaulted ceilings in the roof into the twin reception and dining rooms. Speared by a five-metre tall bronze-clad fireplace column, the reception and dining rooms are an entertaining Eden.

Bespoke wine fridges from Belgian specialists Degré 12 offer storage space for hundreds of bottles, temperature controlled to show off the finest wine collection in perfect cellar-like conditions. A mirrored bar connects the two sets of windows overlooking the garden square, effortlessly concealing fridge, freezer and wine cooler. The deep raw granite edge is a beautiful detail from Eggersmann’s stonemasons.

Contemporary geometric parquet flooring is inspired by the incredible angles of the roof construction that is one of the apartment’s design highlights. The connection of the angles is a metaphor for the connections forged between client, architecture and interior design: a creative zing only possible when inspiration and dedication perfectly combine.

With AC throughout and sophisticated home automation provided by market leaders NV Integration, this apartment not only lives beautifully, it does so at the forefront of 21st Century technology. As would befit the owner of a Bat Cave …

Superhuman attention to detail

The uncompromising attention to detail that has gone into the design and the execution of the finishes is one of the most satisfying aspects of the project. Two geometric elements run through the property. The first reflects the angles revealed in the vaulted ceilings. These were translated in the fractured parquet design of the reception rooms and also in the master bedroom headboard and the entrance hall joinery. The same pattern repeated in different materials to highlight the energy forged by connections.

From these angles we drew out a more regular horizontal line, starting from the master bedroom headboard. Where these angles met the leather panels, we created datums that worked through the dark wooden doors and the bronzed metal panels on the floor above. It’s a geeky favourite aspect, but then, the devil is in the detail.

We also love the totally unstructured beauty of the hanging Apparatus lamps that drape from the angles of the vaulted ceiling in the reception and dining room. Like glass ballerinas they have poise, grace and organic energy.

A labour of love

The design journey has been a labour of love for a number of talented architects, designers, specialists, workers and artisans. The final result reflects the vision of an exceptional client willing to trust his design team to fulfil the potential of the space through a coherent creative vision. The interpretation of the design brief and the clues of the architecture have allowed the architect and design team to push creative boundaries, to test new materials, to go beyond the expected and satisfactory. The design works so well because it expresses that more can indeed be more, if the quality of thought and execution are rigorous and painstaking.

knightsbridge penthouse kitchen design

The best of London

This part of London puts its best foot forward. The original Queen Anne architecture doesn’t shy from decorative detail and craftsmanship. The luxurious materials and innovative design ethos stay true to this approach, using finishes and craftsmanship to tell a story of 21st century patronage. The new layouts make the most of the natural light and connection with the sky and views over London. The glass staircase designed by Peek opens up the heart of the apartment, creating interior and vertical views. This is an apartment from which to enjoy the very best of what London has to offer.

architectural design staircase

The superpowers of master craftsmen

Nearly every element of this project reflects the work of an artisan or specialist. SB Joinery were responsible for the specialist joinery and doors in the project, ensuring that the vertical lines that run through the project were maintained in every element and adding specially designed panels from De Castelli and ironmongery into the reception room doors.

Bigelli Marmi templated and cut the stone for the project in Italy. Calfe Crimmings applied the hand trowelled finishes on the open staircase and in the reception rooms. De Castelli were responsible for the bronze cladding on the chimney column and ensuring that the enormous sliding panel by NV Integration for the TV worked seamlessly. Alphenberg from Holland flew in to apply the leather panels (that were the same size and layout as the bronze panels on the floor above) to the master bedroom.

Eggersmann Design London worked with Belgian wine cellar specialist Degré 12 to customise their wine fridges for the project, adding antiqued glass to the design that also houses and conceals the AC for the rooms. They also specially integrated the Gaggenau gas hob into the stainless-steel island.

In the master bathroom, Corian experts Solidity made the bespoke bath flow seamlessly into the steam shower enclosure.

An apartment that lives life in technicolour

The brief was to wow. The first impressions of the double height vaulted ceilings in the reception room, the bronze-clad chimney breast and the stunning light fixtures tick this box. Yet the apartment also had to work. A chef’s kitchen, masses of storage, AC throughout, considered layouts, a large laundry, space for a housekeeper and nanny to live alongside with their own personal space … these considerations make this more than a penthouse built to entertain. This apartment has been designed for the best of the times and the everyday times too. It just makes the everyday so much more fun. Just don’t tell Batman.

knightsbridge penthouse

The Red Thread

Interestingly I thought it was just a Northern European idea, but the red thread of fate binds lovers together in Eastern mythology too. It’s a trail of breadcrumbs scattered through a piece of creative work that constantly reminds you what’s important or relevant about a particular piece of work. It’s very helpful in editing a design.

There are so many great ideas and suppliers to choose from, but once you have distilled the red thread from the clues your client and the architecture have given you, you can hold each new idea against the red thread and then either let it go or draw it in. It ensures that at the end of a project it feels coherent and distinct from any other. It is telling a different story.

For Cleveland Square the ‘red thread’ was seeing that the house acted as a gallery space. Each piece was then weighed against this notion. Could it stand up as a distinctive piece of art or sculpture? If not, it didn’t belong in this design.The ‘red thread’ is also about collections. A design is a cluster of decisions, artefacts and materials that are important to our client.

I have recently read a beautiful book by Edmund de Waal who uses a collection of Japanese ceramic figures as the starting point for a journey through European history. I was so inspired by this quote–

“How objects are handed on is all about story-telling. I am giving you this because I love you. Or because it was given to me. Because I bought it somewhere special. Because you will care for it. Because it will complicate your life. Because it will make someone else envious. There is no easy story in legacy. What is remembered and what is forgotten?”

The pieces that our clients want to weave a story around are so important.

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Designer Profile – Monique Tollgård

monique tollgard

Monique Tollgård was recently interviewed by Interior Design Magazine. They wanted to understand everything about her life as a designer; her earliest memories of design, where she studied and her most interesting projects.

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Monique Tollgård is a Co-Founder of Tollgard Design Group, alongside her husband Staffan.
Monique and Staffan Tollgård launched their design studio in 2005. Focused
on delivering interior design services to an international clientele, the practice quickly garnered recognition for its bold take on contemporary design. Since then it has expanded into a multi-disciplinary studio that employs some of the brightest minds in the industry. Here, Monique shares her personal experience of entering the design world.


What is your earliest memory of design having an impact on you?
I am reminded of two childhood memories, one good and one bad. The good is the recollection of my grandparents’ house; they had an orchid farm in Johannesburg with hothouses dotted amongst an impressive collection of cycads and trees. On every wall, shelf and corner in the farmhouse were wonderful arrangements of treasures they had found and curated along the way, from truly impressive pieces down to collections of teaspoons. I remember vividly an elephant’s foot full of hand-carved walking sticks that my grandfather had collected from all over South Africa. When they eventually moved into a home more manageable for them in old age, the whole collection went with them, just arranged much closer together! I think the power of collecting has really stayed with me as I’ve grown. Staffan and I really disagree here; he is a minimalistic, very selective designer and I secretly have the DNA of a hoarder. My second memory of design is an old green mohair sofa, which was so uncomfortable and felt horrible on my skin. To this day I still rub fabric samples against my leg as a test of softness and comfort. I’m quite emotionally attached to things, even now I have a collection of old stinkwood bowls in my house that came from my grandparent’s home, they have so much memory embedded in them. For our wedding, we were given a Leopard stone sculpture from Kirstenbos botanical gardens; unusual objects are a thing in our family, and I have taken that thread with me in life and continue to weave it.

Wherever I go I buy something that brings that place and associated memories home with me. Home is so very important to me. When designing, I draw on the principles of how clients want things to feel. I think so often we can give off ‘don’t touch’ vibes, don’t sit there, don’t move that, but actually, good design should be loved and touched and sat on and in. When we work with families we try to understand how to make them happy. I guess this notion reflects back to my childhood memories of how happy my grandparents were to be surrounded by all their things, their treasures.

Where did you study design and what did you specialise in?
I studied interior decoration at Inchbald School of Design. Nico Springman was my tutor, a fantastic teacher who made colour into a science and an art. I have never forgotten his lectures. I have come at this profession from a different approach to a lot of my peers. My background is in English Literature and then documentary making before moving into design, so I feel very experienced at listening to people, researching and editing to tell a story. I’d say I’m more of a communicator who understands the principles of making design work. Within the studio I am surrounded by a wonderful team who can draw beautifully, my skill is in holding multiple ideas in my head and finding a solution and bringing about change to make something better, not just different. It was Alain de Botton in The Architecture of Happiness who said “it is architecture’s task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be.” We ask ourselves, can I in an emotional, philosophical and visual way, be a better person? I think translation and interpretation is so interesting. As a designer, I feel that being a linguist is no bad thing at all, it helps me understand and translate the needs of my clients.

monique tollgard

How has design education changed since you studied?
Studying at Inchbald was a very specific melting pot experience of people and of past professions, many of who had come prepared to invest in new careers. Something I have noticed is how specialist the industry has become in response to the industry itself. I see an evolution of education, which takes students down one avenue to suit this new preference in the industry.

I’m still interested in generalism, the work of the left part of our brains and the right as valuable and differing skills. Staffan is a great example, he studied engineering, left to be a filmmaker and is now a designer. I look for that eclectic mix in people when I employ. I always think with relation to design, you never know what or who is coming through the door, so I need enthusiasm and diversity in my studio, to be prepared for whatever might arise. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about the different types of brains and how this plays into my practice. As a workplace you have varying different needs of people, some want quiet, some thrive in noisy and sparky environments, so how do we bring all those things to our own studio and to the work we produce. If anything, I’d say we are now bringing a residential sensibility to the workplace.

What kind of designer did you aspire to be and who are your inspirations?
I joined Staffan’s business straight out of design school. I had witnessed him set up his film company and then his design practice and it looked like so much fun. I think, fundamentally, my aspirations as a designer have always been aligned with that of the business and therefore with the client. We have a chameleon portfolio, rich and varied with design answers, but the trick is getting it right for that one client in that one moment in time. I was the girl at school who liked to get the gold stars and even now, I want gold stars from my clients, I want to know that I have got it just right for them. After projects there is that sense of joy when receiving testimonials from happy clients. If it photographs well, that’s great, but there is nothing like a written testimonial and some genuinely make me cry to know that we brought a little joy to their lives. For this reason, much of my inspiration lies in the family lives of the clients, creating happiness for them. I am also inspired by my own family; my mother, my grandparents, Staffan. Then there is Christian Liaigre and Joseph Dirand whose work I love and other designers who I respect enormously but have a very different approach to mine; Vincent Van Duysen, Michael Anastassiades and Patricia Urquiola. I think these designers are proof that if you have a point of view about design you can achieve anything.

What was your first professional design commission?
It was a project for a husband and wife who were actually my bosses that I left to study design. I was eight months pregnant and they hired me to refurbish the ground floor of their Wandsworth home. I was so incredibly grateful that they believed in me and my ability to bring something special to the project. Of course, my previous work had helped me, as they knew what I could do in terms of documentary making, but I had a lot to prove. I guess they saw the similarities that I see … lots of research, pulling clues together, and then ruthlessly editing them in order to tell one story.

What has been your biggest design commission to date?
We have worked on some massive family villas abroad, really enormous square footage in some of these projects. One in particular was a villa in
Riyadh. Working through Skype and email this was an interesting project for many reasons, beyond the scale. In Riyadh it seems that the method is to build it, knock it down and start again until you get it right. The enormous and multiple living spaces eventually made me feel that bigger does not always equate to better. A real positive from the design journey was that our client did not want cut-off spaces, so we felt that we were almost helping to promote equality through design decisions. All living spaces were equal and open and the end result seems to have emotionally and physically disrupted the traditional living experience. Our research in Saudi revealed the house to be a woman’s entire world. You are cocooned environmentally and culturally and when we visited we grew to understand how much time is spent in the house and therefore how the design has to incorporate using different parts of the house for different parts of the day. With this in mind, I understood the importance of why a larger house footprint is so important. The biggest project in terms of learning curve was for an international, very design conscious couple. Our clients wanted cutting-edge tech and a minimalist aesthetic – squeezed into a crooked, listed Victorian house, against a strict budget and aggressive programme. I think this is one of those projects that taught me the most about design.


How would you describe your studio?
We started life in a much smaller studio, we’d take our dogs into work and it was a very intimate environment, but we got bigger and bigger as our projects got bigger. We then found the design studio at Grosvenor Waterside (where we are now) with a mezzanine level to house the design practice and a beautiful showroom to showcase Staffan’s ever growing collection of brands and treasures.
Note that Staffan’s collection gets four metre height ceilings and the design team 2.3m at a push. It’s a really happy company; the older I get, the more like a mother hen I become. We spend so much time together, we celebrate milestones and anniversaries together, it’s really close-knit. We are energising, collaborative, creative, intuitive, with lots of chatter. I do like a little bit of noise and I am very much the cheerleader in the group. I should probably include that on my business card! My father worked for Disney for a long time and he always encouraged my brother and me to find the path with a heart. Something that engages you emotionally and that you love doing. I hope that our studio is one with heart. And soul.

monique tollgard

What are the key characteristics you look for when bringing new talent into your studio?
A good work ethic; I’m a believer in enthusiasm for the job. One of our best people came to us to intern as a product designer. One week he stayed with us until gone 2am (we’d bitten off a little more than we could chew). His enthusiasm got him the job as I hired him the next day. I think you need to see a basic level of competence with CAD etc and with that a commitment to the industry, a love of communication and collaboration. At the heart of it all is kindness. Everyone has to want to sit next you at the Christmas party.

Where is the majority of your work based, and how has travel helped to shape and influence your ideas on design?
We’ve done a lot abroad recently, because London is such an International hub, it gives us the international work. I’m currently working on a project for a client in London who also has a place in the Hamptons and Staffan is working on an island off Denmark. London has been great to us in that respect. Everyone has unique living requirements and when working abroad there are different ingredients and different answers and responses to the questions asked. I think you exercise a different creative muscle working abroad. Riyadh is an example; we had a huge problem with hanging wallpaper, so we had to step back and rethink how to solve the problem. I lecture at Inchbald and I often say to the students ‘get paid to make mistakes’ because it is a long road ahead of varying challenges, you need the experience of it all before you can set off on your own.


What do you think should be a key focus for designers moving forward in 2019?
It’s very hard to speak for all designers, but this question made Staffan and I think about what we, as designers and working parents, should be doing with a slightly longer-term view than we normally do. We decided that we should be asking ourselves what we genuinely enjoy doing, where our talents and experience best serve our clients; how we best add value. It’s been a rocky time for the last few years for Britain and beyond, economically, socially, environmentally. We want to take stock of where we are, and where we want to be heading in 2020 and after that. To make sure that we are still on our path with a heart!

If you hadn’t become an interior designer what would you be doing?
I don’t think I would still be making documentaries, my old boss actually said my writing made him lose the will to live! I have been an actress but I don’t think I would return to that either. I’m too thin skinned for the twitter and Instagram instant review culture. I think perhaps I would be a teacher, maybe not of English but maybe design. There is nothing like a captive audience to communicate to.

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The Sunday Times chez Tollgard

Britain’s love affair with all things Scandi has been a cultural phenomenon, from crime-thriller box sets to midcentury furniture, Ikea and the cosy cult of hygge. Step into many a middle-class London home and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Stockholm. But what does the British home of a Scandi designer look like?

Staffan Tollgård, a Swede who has lived in Britain since 1996 and runs an interior design firm in Belgravia, has brought a bit of Scandi style to his family home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, but he’s avoided the clichés. “The stereotypical Scandi look is blond wood floors, white walls, contemporary art and a few design classics, such as Hansen’s Wishbone chair or Arne Jacobsen’s Series 7 chair,” says Tollgard, 46. “And you’d have a white kitchen with simple tiles. Scandi is a good aesthetic — everything looks right — but it doesn’t celebrate individuality.

I love that, in London, you can see a man walking down the street in a yellow suit. That would never happen in Stockholm.” Tollgard’s home is certainly a true original. Designed with his wife and business partner, Monique, 42, it’s a six-bedroom, three-storey house that was built in 2014, which makes the couple part of a rare breed: designers or architects who don’t live in a period house. They bought it in 2015, when they were living in Bayswater, west London; they wanted their two boys, Leo, 11, and Elliot, 8 , to grow up outside the big smoke and close to their maternal grandparents, who live nearby.

The interiors also set them apart from the crowd: they’ve done the impossible and made a grey colour scheme look fresh. There’s no Elephant’s Breath on the walls — it’s a Dulux custom blend. And the grey is a canvas for dazzling jolts of colour: acid yellows, cherry reds, royal blues. The sofa is an enormous grey L-shaped number by Living Divani, an Italian manufacturer, but it’s dotted with cheery cushions in midcentury-style graphics by an English designer, Eleanor Pritchard. Behind it is an Anglo-Scandi burst of colour: four abstract lithographs, all dots and stripes and primary colours, by the young British artist Mark Francis, which was created at Edition Copenhagen studio. “We’re bold, but not brash,” Tollgard says. “Brash is shiny and bling. We’re humble. We don’t like interiors that try too hard.” Another design achievement: they have made the grey interiors feel warm and cosy.

There’s a woodburner and the floors are dark wood, rather than Scandi blond. But don’t call it hygge, the hard-topronounce Danish aesthetic. “Hygge is candles, blankets and cable-knit, and an open fire,” Tollgard says. “We do have the fire, but we’ve thrown in colour and our art frames are in Perspex boxes.” Monique, who is South African but knows her Scandi design, chimes in: “Hygge is a sameness, lots of layers, but without anything popping or being too different.” Nor is their style lagom, billed as the Swedish successor to hygge. “Lagom is not a design term, it’s more a cultural sensibility,” Tollgard says. “It means not too much, not too little, don’t show off.” If the Tollgards have an aesthetic, then it’s industrial craft. There’s lots of steel.

The kitchen cupboards are finished in a cloudy bronzed steel by the Italian firm De Castelli. A Modo ball chandelier, all black ironmongery and filament bulbs, feels vintage industrial, yet is new. “We love American lighting,” Tollgard says. “Companies in New York and Philadelphia are producing fantastic new designs in old industrial styles. This is raw steel done in a bold and beautiful way.”

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Hygge interior design

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Country & Townhouse: The Top 50 Interior Designers

Country & Townhouse have recently published a list of the top 50 interior designers to follow & I’m happy to announce that we at Tollgard Design Group have placed in that top 50.

Country & Townhouse

Husband and wife interior designers Monique and Staffan Tollgård admit to being staunchly functionalist when making design decisions.

‘We ensure that our clients’ homes are fit for purpose; using every square inch we can carveout,’ says Monique, head of the design studio. ‘

We believe in longevity of materials, the joy of colour and the importance of drawing the outside world in.’

Their diverse current projects include a heritage apartment in Copenhagen; the headquarters for a fast-growing tech company in London and a villa in Jordan. Yet Monique’s seminal experience was working on a Grade II-listed building just off the King’s Road. ‘It was a crooked house with a perfectionist owner who wanted to square every inexact corner.

Country & Townhouse

Over the course of two years it taught me everything I needed to know about the workings of a period property; how to squeeze every modern convenience under the skin of a traditional home without losing its charm.’

Original Excerpt taken from Country & Townhouse – Read Full Article Here

Country & Town House launched in 2007 as the only monthly luxury magazine to target the increasing number of affluent ‘double lifers’ who enjoy the very best of country and city living. Celebrating the best of British living & luxury; it covers the finest houses, interiors, arts & events, food & travel, fashion & style, as well as relevant features and interviews.

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Interview with Staffan Tollgård by Joseph Giles

Staffan was recently interviewed by our favourite architectural hardware company, Joseph Giles. Find out how trips to Japan, New York and Paris have inspired him and how he applies the Red Thread principle.

staffan tollgard

josephgiles.com