Nicky Dobree is an award-winning international designer. She is one of the leading luxury chalet designers in the world and is credited with setting the benchmark for Alpine luxury. Televising her battles in 2004, to bring her cutting edge style to the mountains, she opened the eyes of the world to new possibilities in chalet design. After studying French and Italian at Bristol University and a stint in publishing, Nicky retrained in interior architecture and design.
Having grown up in Paris and Vietnam and travelled extensively, Nicky’s inspiration has come from all corners of the globe. Her reputation has continued to grow over the last 20 years and has established her as an international designer with clients across Europe and North America. She has completed many projects from major cities to rural retreats. However over the years her reputation as an outstanding luxury chalet designer has meant that she has become the first port of call for discerning international clients and has designed and built in all the leading ski resorts including Whistler, Verbier, St Moritz, Klosters, Gstaad, Crans Montana, Val D’isere, Meribel, Chamonix, Megeve and beyond.
She has recently completed her first boutique hotel in Andalucia, Spain and is currently working on projects in London, Munich and Cape Town as well as the Alps. Nicky offers a discerning service to national and international private clients working with an extensive network of skilled craftsmen. She creates eye catching interiors with a strong sense of place. Fusing modern lines with traditional vernacular she introduces contemporary details to timeless effect. Ultimately her designs have all the hallmarks of classic elegance and enduring comfort.
What is your background and why did you decide to set up Nicky Dobree Interior Design?
I have always had an innate love of design and was lucky to grow up abroad, travel extensively and be exposed to multiple styles and cultures. After having trained in interior architecture and design I worked for TMH, now Taylor Howes, for 8 years, before setting up my London Studio in 2000.
I’m sure there’s no such thing, but can you describe the closest thing to a ‘typical day’ for you?
Interior design is my life. I live it and breath it and wake up feeling lucky to be doing something that I love. I tend to get up early to go through my emails and make the most of the hour change to touch base with the European contractors before heading into the office where I can then be fully focused on the team.
I walk to work every morning across Vauxhall Bridge to my office in Pimlico popping into Brunswick House on the way, a wonderful treasure trove of architectural salvaged pieces. There is something magical and very uplifting about being close to the river in the London. I pick up a coffee from Taylor and Kallouck opposite the Studio in Moreton Street. It is a wonderful cafe which is at the heart of our small community. Once in the office we have a quick catch up on each other’s weekends before I sit down with the team to go through our projects and workloads for the week ahead. Depending on my schedule I am either catching a flight to head across to a site meeting in either in the Alps, Italy, Spain or Germany depending on the project or to a site meeting here in the UK. When not travelling I will be working with the team on the designs for the various projects. I finish my day with a walk back across Vauxhall Bridge to my home, in time for supper with my family.
All of this is before we went into lockdown. Working from home during lockdown is clearly very different!
Where does the design process begin with a new client?
It starts at the very beginning. My job is to listen carefully to the client’s brief, to question and get to know and understand what it is that they want to achieve. It is important to establish a good rapport, to gain their trust and confidence and to work closely with them to achieve the best results.
What would be your dream project/client?
I have a huge love of Africa and have always wanted to design a safari lodge. Ultimately the dream client is one who trusts me to deliver my vision for the project.
Your company works on both UK based and international projects, how does the process between the two differ?
The biggest difference between working in the UK and abroad, especially in the Alps is managing a build between the seasons and dealing with the weather conditions at high altitude. Over and above this there is of course working in a foreign language, understanding the cultural issues and the local approach to work. When it comes to installing the soft furnishings there are the imports and logistics to manage across borders too. Over the last 20 years the team have honed their skills and we have good systems and processes in place to enable the whole operation to run smoothly. It helps that I am a fluent French speaker too!
Recently we completed our first hotel project in Spain and the issues were not dissimilar to those in the Alps. Access, instead of up a mountain, was at the top of a white pueblo village down very narrow cobbled streets. Here too we had to work between seasons and deal with extreme heat rather than severe cold. Working in Spanish and adapting to the Andalucian rhythm of life also had its challenges.
In the UK there are no language issues, sites are easy to get to and if for any reason something gets left behind on an install it’s a lot easier to get it to site!
Do you have any design advice for someone looking to transform a space in their home?
Consider how you want to feel in the space. There are so many ways to transform your space from re-painting walls, new lighting, re-upholstering furniture, adding cushions, throws a rug etc but that is easy if you know how and have an eye for design. Sometimes though it can be just the simplest things that bring about a refreshing change, fresh flowers even!
Your designs are often a blend of classic and contemporary, using natural light, stunning artwork and original property features to create some truly incredible spaces, what do you find is the best way to incorporate these elements?
With each and every design, I take my lead from the building and its location. I will always work to retain as many original features as possible to give the space a sense of place, a context, a depth of history, and ultimately a soul.
A period interior approached in a fresh and contemporary way, is achieved through the carefully chosen layers of fabrics and textures that create a backdrop for the sculptural mix of curated contemporary and antiques pieces that ground the scheme. Together with the artworks they create comfort, warmth and above all a home with a richness full of stories to tell.
We love the Nicky Dobree Collection, what inspires designs for your range ?
It started with my cashmere collection and a desire to have some chic chalet loungewear for post skiing. It grew to exquisite Italian bedding and chunky cable cashmere throws that were large enough to fit on a double bed without looking mean. When I couldn’t find the right pieces of furniture to fit a space I started to design these too and so the collection grew.
What does 2020 have in store for Nicky Dobree Interior Design?
I am lucky to be working on some wonderful projects from large chalets in the Alps, to homes by the sea and properties here in London. I am also working on an exciting collaboration in South Africa so watch this space…
To make an enquiry or to view Nick Dobree’s full portfolio visit the website here.
Images: Nicky Dobree, Philip Vile