A specialist in hospitality design, Adrian Battisby’s love of performing arts and cinema has brought a sense of drama, and a holistically experiential approach to his work. The success of his integrative design philosophy, which has garnered him multiple awards over the course of his career, can be seen in the breadth of his work at LW Design.
How did your design career blossom?
I remember so well when I was asked by the career officer at school what I wanted to do going forward, and I replied, “I want to be an architect”. I got a puzzled look from the advisor but I was determined. At one point I changed tack and had my heart set on becoming a theatre set designer, but I was so lucky to find a course at my local art school that combined both these careers, with graphics and exhibition set design. I loved that course – it propelled me to conclude my design training at Chelsea College or Art and Design. After interning with a design company in London, I was offered a job right after graduation – two days in fact. A job where I started right at the bottom of the company as a junior designer printing dyeline drawings and tea!
The move to Dubai really put my design career into the fast lane. The projects LW creates are incredible. I am so proud of our work, and it has been such a rewarding and fun journey. It is a testament to everyone I have worked with and have helped me and advised me, motivated me, and the sessions with my executive coach that ignited even more drive and passion within me, or my friends who heard me talk it out over a beer and kept me smiling. All my life experience combined has impacted me and influenced me to be the design leader I am today.
What led you to practice design in the region?
In 2003 I was looking for a change from the UK, so I went out and spent time in a handful of cities around the globe, which I compared as places to live and work. I was looking for positions in Dubai as far back as 2005, as there was so much activity then within the construction industry. Projects were coming up everywhere, it was such an amazing moment in time.
My very first impression of Dubai was looking out of the airplane window very early in the morning as we taxied to the terminal building. I was immediately struck by the blinding daylight – it was so bright, and to me it felt hopeful and positive. I clearly remember the feeling and energy of Dubai, it was the excitement, the creation of our future through the built environment.
“We must move to a much more sustainable world, and I mean that in all aspects of our life on this planet. The recent events of the past year has meant that we have been propelled into the future and we must adapt to it, through materiality, artisanal design, creating spaces with purpose and meaning. The world has changed, and we have a duty to design for that.”
– Adrian Battisby, Partner, Senior Director of Interior Design, LW Design
What do you feel is most challenging about being an interior designer in the region?
Keeping the work fresh, keeping an open mind, taking our clients on an exciting design journey on each new project. I strive to learn and be on the lookout for new ideas, to hear new voices and be receptive to opposing points of view. With Dubai being such a fast-paced place and construction environment, growth is happening at lightning speed, so keeping up is tricky, and so is telling your design story in a unique and authentic way. It is additionally challenging because clients want results quickly. But it is also nice in that we have an opportunity to tell the Arabian story in a modern way that is approachable to visitors and guests, who may have had a preconception about this part of the world. It is often romanticised but also greatly misunderstood.
The Qianhai Brewing Company in Schenzen by LW Design
How would you describe your design style, and where do you find your inspiration?
Theatre and cinema. These two are such imaginative mediums that they always inspire me. I am also inspired by travel, music and art, by novels, by the world we live in – whatever feeds my imagination feeds my inspiration. My personal style at home could best be described as “collect and layer”, but at the studio, it is not about my style. It is about what is appropriate for the project and supporting the lead designers’ vision. We are hospitality designers, so we design experiences.
What is your favorite design sector, and why?
My favourite area to work within is hospitality. As the designer, you have the space and the opportunity to orchestrate the environment for the guests and craft the backdrop to their hotel experience – which is almost cinematic or theatrical.
The Conrad Residence in Bahrain by LW Design
Where do you see the interior design industry five years from now?
We must move to a much more sustainable world, and I mean that in all aspects of our life on this planet. The recent events of the past year has meant that we have been propelled into the future and we must adapt to it, through materiality, artisanal design, creating spaces with purpose and meaning. The world has changed, and we have a duty to design for that.
If you weren’t an interior designer, what would you be?
A celebrity restaurateur. My parents owned and ran a French restaurant in a British seaside town when I was younger. I grew up around a big restaurant kitchen, filled with people and delicious food. I just loved being in the middle of the action, cooking, and making people happy through food. And to quote Virgina Woolf, “A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if, one has not dined well”.
If you could design anything without constraints, what would it be?
A fantastic waterfront resort, not too remote, in Croatia. The rich culture and traditions, the mix of international visitors, and the dramatic landscape really makes Croatia a unique destination.
The Qianhai Brewing Company in Schenzen by LW Design
What is your design dream?
Designing my own dream property. The design must feature a space for family and friends to gather around a massive table, with the windows wide open and a warm breeze scented from herbs growing nearby. Close enough to a thriving metropolis but far enough for quiet, and closeness to nature.
What are you working on at the moment?
A Conrad Residence in Bahrain, a cool luxe modern hotel attached to a casino resort in Macau, The Grove in Saadiyat Island, and a couple of exciting projects that I can’t talk about just yet.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Just be yourself because everyone else is taken”, which was said by Oscar Wilde, is something I live by.
Lastly, who is Adrian, the man behind the designer?
I love to entertain, and I love gathering everyone around a table, it’s such a rich experience. Perhaps because there has been such a lack of that recently, the idea of it seems even more desirable now. I enjoy opera and classical music. Enriching my mind through further learning, listening to podcasts and reading have provided me insight, and have acted as a real retreat recently, inspiring me greatly during the pandemic.