An interior designer suggests his seven favourite places in the world ...
From INTELLIGENT LIFE Magazine, Spring 2011
He describes himself as a daydreamer, but David Collins is awake enough to run a company that creates interiors for leading restaurants. His CV includes the Wolseley and Nobu in London, as well as restaurants and bars in two forthcoming five-star hotels. His seven wonders, like his preferred palette, have a watery theme.
HOTEL: VILLA D'ESTE, LAKE COMO
(Pictured, above) It’s magical to go off-season—very early spring or autumn, when the scenery benefits from the mist and walking around the lake is really beautiful. There is a sense in these northern Italian hotels of a bourgeois past, quite strait-laced but indulgent. I think this is one of the last bastions of the grand hotel in Europe. There are echoes of Visconti—everything that really appeals to me has a cinematic backdrop; I think that’s because I’m a bit of a daydreamer. The Italian neo-realist films of Visconti are quite mannered and that is how life in these hotels seems to me—full of mysterious, self-contained people who are staying there, although I can never quite understand why.
VIEW: FROM CAPE POINT, SOUTH AFRICA
This is the view at the end of the world—although it’s not as far south as you can go, that’s just a story fed to gullible tourists like myself. It’s where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic. I find the power of the sea awe-inspiring: the drawings of Robert Longo of huge surfing waves are full of emotion. I love the sea because of the light, the fact there’s always movement, and the fresh air, the breeze, the colour. Water influences a lot of my work and the colours I use are infused with watery tones. I have a big affinity to water, having grown up in Dublin beside the sea, and I would always choose to live by it. So I’m not sure why, in the one life I’ve been given, I live in London.
CITY: BUENOS AIRES
I’d dreamed about Buenos Aires since I was a child and when I went there for the first time in 1994 I completely fell in love with the architecture. It represents a time when Argentina was expanding enormously—in the beginning of the 20th century it was one of the five wealthiest countries in the world. There’s every style of building with some wonderful examples of early modernist architecture, and it reawakened my passion for designing houses. When you wander around it’s all a bit falling apart in terms of infrastructure, but the buildings really shine through. You can close your eyes and re-imagine the whole city in black and white, shot by Alfred Hitchcock.
JOURNEY: PORTO SEGURO TO TRANCOSO, BRAZIL
One of the most amazing journeys I’ve ever made was the drive down the coast of Brazil in southern Bahia, from Porto Seguro to Trancoso, which I did a few years ago with some friends. You drive through forests and mountains, with glimpses of the sea. It resonated with me because of the unfamiliarity of the whole geography and the scale of the space we drove through—I hadn’t realised how big Brazil is. Trancoso itself is a little town built around an old village green which dates back to the 16th century and is quite magical.
BEACH: ES CAVALLET, IBIZA
I know people dream of them, but I don’t really like deserted beaches where you’re with maybe one other person getting burnt to a cinder by the sun in an ozone-free atmosphere. I like there to be something to do. I like people-watching, and I’m more likely to be sketching or writing down ideas than reading a book. I love the beaches in Ibiza, especially Es Cavallet. I go late in the afternoon to meet friends, talk, play cards, listen to music, whatever. The music might be live or—in my unwillingness to leave behind my teenage years—house music.
BUILDING: MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART, QATAR
Last year I visited the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, designed by I.M. Pei and opened in 2008. It’s a magnificent building—a wonderful mathematical composition of shapes and spaces, sitting on a promontory they’ve made overlooking the Gulf. I think in quite a mathematical way, and it really appealed to me because the whole thing is worked out like a giant Rubik’s Cube. Inside it is a revelation to see Islamic art displayed with such fine-tuned curating
WORK OF ART: “FREISCHWIMMER 79”BY WOLFGANG TILLMANS
I always think art is an accident—I don’t think an artist can ever know how something is going to turn out. For that reason I love the inkjet prints of Wolfgang Tillmans. It combines several things I have a bit of an obsession about: ink and water and photography and colour. He takes the photographs in just a moment, and the inkjets are dipped into large vats of water. They capture the impossibility of grasping a handful of water, the transience of colour…It’s got all the things I think are interesting about art.
David Collins was talking to Rebecca Willis. He has restaurants opening at the Corinthia Hotel, London SW1, in April, and the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, NW1, in May. Picture Credit: Maureen Paley, London, garybembridge (via Flickr)