Inside the Mind Of

Inside the mind of… Paul Bishop

31 Oct , 2017  

Just uttering the name Bishop Design is enough to concoct vivid mental images of the high class, elegant and 5-star dining environments present at restaurants in the top tier of the Middle East’s F&B scene. The source of this creative magic comes from Paul Bishop, Founder & MD of Bishop Design LLC/Rogue. A seasoned interior designer, Paul’s ubiquitous influence in the hospitality design industry stems from a long list of successful projects; incredibly popular ones include Bazxar restaurant in DIFC and Katana Robata and Sushi Bar at Souk Al Bahar.

Interestingly, his foray into interior design began with a nascent interest in fashion. Following his decision to apply to the Brighton School of Art, Paul immersed himself in as many areas of design as possible; fashion, textiles, graphics, theater, furniture and product design with the aspiration of actually becoming a fashion designer. It wasn’t until he had found himself studying furniture and product design during his time at Kingston University that he felt himself leaning towards interior design. The shift he says, felt like a ‘natural evolution’.

We recently caught up with the man behind many of the truly spectacular dining experiences in Dubai, and got to chat about his life, inspirations, thoughts, and what’s in store for Bishop Design.

“Do not walk through the world with your eyes closed.” – Paul Bishop , Bishop Design LLC/Rogue

Where do you find inspirations for your designs? Are there specific spaces/places where you’ve found inspirations or sources that you’ve used many times?

Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. Interior design is intrinsically linked with other social trends such as the arts, film, literature, music and social media. That’s also the reason I love to travel so much; I am always inspired by the various locations and cultures that I encounter. Inspiration is drawn from everything, both consciously and subconsciously. In terms of applying these inspirations, they are only interpreted loosely. There’s no plagiarism, and we do not repeat designs. That’s what we hope keeps us ahead of the game, and allows us to be as diverse and as current as we can be.

What have been your favorite and least favorite designs that you've worked on and why?

I do not have a least favorite to be honest. Every project we have done, or have been approached to do, has been enjoyable in its own individual way with successful end results. You are only as good as your latest and your most current work so I do not necessarily have a favorite venue either. We are continually experimenting and pushing the boundaries further when it comes to the design application and aesthetic styling within, and are fortunate that our clients have this ultimate trust and belief in us to do so.

How do you compare Dubai with anywhere else you’ve worked? What do you feel is the toughest part of being an interior designer, especially in the UAE?

Dubai is drastically different in certain ways. It is different in regards to its interior spaces, as you don’t inherit any overlying of text or palimpsest which you could ultimately work in as part of the new design, whilst respecting the existing urban fabric of the envelope. These reminiscences of the past enhance the visual dynamics and help establish the narrative we have previously spoken about. However, we always seem to inherit spaces that are somewhat mundane and soulless (to a degree) as they are new constructs. This means you’re most likely starting out with a blank slate and there isn’t any existing element to integrate and embrace the new design. This is opposed to other demographics where you inherit, in most instances, elements that can be maintained to visually enhance your design direction.

For example, in New York bricks are inherent and synonymous with the city so they are naturally integral to your space, whereas in Dubai we inherit glass and concrete boxes. To apply such a material or finish could appear somewhat fake. A lot of designs in Europe and the rest of the world are beautified by what is uncovered and left behind – something that was actually very important to me whilst completing my Bachelors and Masters degrees; this method of overwriting an existing text and stripping back layers which you can use and apply to the interior. A successful interior isn’t about what you put in, but what you leave out. And this is one of the hardest elements within Dubai as there is always potential to overdesign.

What would be the most important piece of advice you could give new designers, and what’s the best advice you've received?

Do not walk through the world with your eyes closed. 

The best advice I have received would be to “never disrespect anyone on the way up because you’ll never know who you’ll meet on the way down.” My first lecturer at art school told me this; that was his opening line and it’s something that has a degree of truth to it.

Lotus Arts de Vivre in Dubai

What are your favorite spaces in Dubai and why?

Everything we design – obviously 😉 A lot of my favorite spaces have been demolished, redeveloped and built upon in the creation of the city’s new dynamic infrastructure. These held memories attached to them, beyond the actual design of the spaces itself. But I am enjoying and appreciating the new spaces created in town. There are urban and architectural spaces, things that pop up sporadically, not predetermined or planned. This is the constant surprise of the demographic we are in, and the one that we are designing for.

What frustrates you the most about design approaches and/or trends in Dubai and the UAE? What do people get wrong?

Sometimes, the lack of professionalism in the field. This was perhaps more evident when the market was over-saturated with designers or people professing to be a designer. I’m not saying that people are not creative – everyone has a degree of creativity and can apply this skill to anything they wish to in a dynamic and successful way. It’s more in relation to the so-called ‘professionals’ in terms of the level of detail and the solutions provided. Everyone believes they’re an “interior designer” to some degree, but there is so much more than just being creative. Yes, creativity is an integral part of the design process, but there is also the technical knowledge that cannot be overlooked, and is critical to what we do. This often gets neglected or overlooked, especially when delivered as a constructed entity.

What are your thoughts on global trends being applied to any and every project?

Trends in Dubai are known to piggyback on trends globally. It’s more difficult to apply those trends here because of the architectural envelopes that we inherit. Being devoid of soul, narrative or anything inherently natural, it’s hard to use and integrate these envelopes within the interiors that we are creating, without it appearing fake. This is the biggest concern that frustrates me – in some instances spaces appear faux due to the trends. We have got to stay ahead of the game. We have to engage with the spaces we inherit and create our own design language and direction. It’s smart to be current and in tune with global trends, but it needs to be done in an intelligent and sophisticated way. This is something people can get wrong. Not everything is translatable. You cannot take something as literally as it appears and translate it into any demographic. We see far too much plagiarism, and paste and stick that which doesn’t have any coherence with any environment that it’s going in to.

At Bishop Design LLC/Rogue, our designs may come across as cheeky and eclectic, but it is design that has been thoroughly thought through and applied. It’s not a random application of these sentiments. It’s the approach we want to take, but everything has been considered and thought of on countless occasions. Cheeky and provocative but still thoughtfully developed and considered. That’s the intriguing thing about design. There is no randomness to it. Even what seems “random” is considered. Global conditions, the local demographic and the clientele are factored in, researched and developed. It’s not a random process or result. It is something we have identified. The process about getting to this design is professional and follows the protocols behind an ideology to create this design ideation. Everything is purposed to the highest degree. No shortcuts. No compromise on materials, selections or design. There are, in some instances, too many compromises being made which has a negative throwback on to the market we work in. We need to maintain a level of professionalism, although not everyone adheres to it.

What’s your favorite holiday spot in the world? And your least favorite travel destination?

I recently traveled to Los Angeles and loved it. But I think there are too many beautiful places I’ve yet to visit, that would allow me to decide on a favorite or least favorite. Is there even such a thing as a least favorite travel destination?

The Bishop Design LLC team

Where do you see design in the architecture industry moving in the next five years?

In less than three years Dubai is going to be the hub of the largest trade expo the world has ever seen. This already has and will continue to influence the architecture and design industry. We are going to see spaces become a lot more technology focused, with the implementation of various cutting-edge products. Spaces are going to be targeted for the tech savvy generation. Millennials are influencing Dubai hugely as they are constantly tapping into new trends, and are becoming much more knowledgeable and involved in design.  

If not interior design, what would you be doing?

Being a rock star!

If you could design anything without constraints, what would it be? What are your design dreams/goals?

You need a constraint to design – constraints are what determine and create the design. If we’re talking about limitless constraints, I would still set my own precedents and objectives within to create. I’m living my design dreams every day. But a goal would to be more globally exposed, with more international projects. We are a homegrown brand in Dubai which I love, and although we have numerous projects overseas I’d like to be involved in this more. I would take on a project anywhere in the world. For our designs to be recognized and appreciated on both a global and international level is the ultimate goal, and one no doubt I’m sure we can achieve more of.

Regarding the corporate hospitality industry, what are some of the most common mistakes you see being made/built?

There is on some occasions a general lack of understanding in terms of where and what we are designing for. The sustainability of materials, for example, and how they are applied and how people will interact both operationally and functionally are common mistakes, as we touched on earlier. Also, not working to the correct drawing information and not checking the information to see if there are any discrepancies. At the onset we always attend the site to ensure that the information received prior to commencing the project is correct and that the correct drawings represent the as built structure.

Is there anything exciting you’re working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

A new chapter for the Bishop Design LLC brand. The introduction of Rogue will specialize in interior, brand conceptualization, architecture and as a multi-faceted diverse practice where no client nor project is too small or too big. If it is challenging, exciting or just fun, then it’s Rogue.

Bazxar in Dubai

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