An interview with SKIN. Luxury interior design arrives in London. We sat down with Lauren Lozano Ziol, Founder + Designer, SKIN.
Welcome to London! Let’s start from the beginning. Combining a background in interior design (Lauren) and a background in graphic design (Michelle), how did SKIN first come to fruition?
Michelle and I were friends for many years and I always admired her drive and creativity. She is also a natural at interior design and really likes to push boundaries. We discussed collaborating to create unique client experiences and in 2017 we decided to launch SKIN.
Since Michelle is so good at branding, we wanted to come up with a name that was provocative and would leave an impression. We landed on SKIN – a name that symbolised all the layers we wanted to create. SKIN is about diversity, layers and environments. It has so much to do with the materials we use on a daily basis to create interiors for our clients. Michelle and I come to design from completely different backgrounds and perspectives. Michelle’s expertise centre on graphic design and she had spent 25 years working for top global advertising agencies, whereas I have taken a more traditional route through academia, auction houses and top interior design brands. We are a good fit because together we come up with unique combinations that push the envelope in design, yet always remain classic and timeless with an edge.
We love your approach to design, aiming to ‘get under the skin’ of those you work with. How do you go about this and what is your process when approaching new projects and clients?
Upon undertaking any project, we listen to our clients and learn about their needs and personality. We can therefore create a space that is uniquely theirs and a true reflection of who they are on the inside. We then interpret our clients’ vision with attention to detail and artistic skill. It’s sharing this profound knowledge of techniques, processes, and materials – right down to the smallest of details – that constitutes the unique strength and bonded partnership between client and designer.
To what extent do you feel home life is changing and in what ways?
The reality is that the nature of home life in this Covid-19 era is changing. With more time working from home, people are increasingly recognising that they need to be in an environment that complements their wellbeing. Now is the perfect time to be creative with our interiors. Whether it’s taking time to de-clutter and rationalise a space, using design as a means of escape through beautiful wallpapers and art or even finding ways to bring the outside in. Many families may have moved back in together and need living areas to be multi-functional. Perhaps even able to meet the demands of a full household once again.
With personal wellbeing an integral part of the design process just how important is it to have this at the forefront of consultations?
One of our core beliefs is that design has the power to inspire confidence, passion and creativity, so it’s inextricably linked to wellbeing. People want to be in a space that makes them feel uplifted. Good design can be a simple means of escape from the world outside. It’s therefore always been important to us to take an intentional approach, but now more so than ever, especially as we see our clients using their spaces in new ways. They are taking this time to slow down. Some are using their kitchen and dining areas to their full potential for the first time, while others are adapting their rooms to be multi-functional. For example, creating home gyms from their study areas, for yoga and Pilates.
Do you have a personal favourite project you have put together? What made it special for you?
We love all of our projects. However, the one that stands out is the 1920’s mansion we worked on in Presidio Heights. The mansion was set on the rolling hills around San Francisco overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. We really had fun breathing new life into the property with a mix of modern art and antique finds which reflected the sophisticated, yet playful tastes of the client.
Fashionistas Posh Pad is another favourite. This was an exquisite apartment in No.9 Walton Street in downtown Chicago where we mixed bold colours and wallpapers with unique furniture. It magically came together to create this “wow factor” that was totally unique to the client.
Where do you take inspiration from? A particular era or perhaps an individual within the industry?
We take our inspiration from many different eras and styles, but we are real Francophiles at heart. We are particularly influenced by French Deco and Parisian flea market pieces of the 1920’s and 40’s. This can be most clearly seen in my custom-made furniture line. The materials and scale of the furniture are a perfect fit for any space and add elegance and style of a bygone era to the home.
We understand that luxury interior design is very personal. However, what differences, if any, do you expect to encounter between the US and UK interior design industry?
We are humbled to work among so many amazing designers here in London. I am so inspired by the work going on at the moment in the city. I think SKIN brings in a different element because we really look at the whole picture of client. Their personality, history and background.
We try to educate them on what we are bringing into their home and we like to push their boundaries, so they end up doing things they never expected. This is how we can create an exciting environment that is uniquely theirs.
Projekt SKIN is an extremely admirable cause. Could you explain to our readership just how this noble project came about?
We really believe that great design is for everyone and so we are committed to transforming existing spaces of non-profits. We do this through design services and in-kind donations. Our first charity project was with the Common Pantry. Common Pantry is a charity that provides healthy food, kinship and support to help overcome poverty-related challenges in Chicago. We then worked with a second non-profit organisation called Margaret’s Village, a women and children’s shelter in Chicago. Working with various charities has proven to be the most enjoyable and gratifying work we do. We are looking forward to expanding Projekt Skin’s scope when we arrive in London. We will be open to similar UK-based charity work.
Finally, what excites you most about launching in London?
We really want to create a brand, not just a design firm. We want SKIN’s impact to be timeless, unique design that lasts for ages. London is the next logical step of this aim, as one of the centres of design in Europe. We can’t wait to make new connections with the city’s designers and makers. There are so many corners of the city we love to explore, whether it’s hunting through the Portobello Road Market or visiting the top auction houses. It will also be exciting to be in easy reach of Paris, where we love to spend time in the Marché Saint-Pierre. It’s exciting to be launching in London at this time, while there is a significant opportunity in the luxury interior design market as many homeowners are looking to refurbish and reinvigorate their interiors.
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