Every great design starts with an even better story
Following the recent opening of the new Savoy Palace Hotel in Funchal, Portugal, we sit down with Nini Andrade Silva, the design mind behind the hotel and one of Portugal’s most prestigious interior designers
Why interior design, what is it about interior design that captivates and drives you?
Interior design is part of my personal expression and cultural interaction with the world. Design allows me to transform hotels across the globe into temporal hubs of thematic exploration and that’s it the main goal that drives me through my profession.
How much of yourself do you put into your designs?
I put a lot of my inner being in my designs. Often my design is something that is born from inside out, something that begins in the spirit, goes through the drawing and merges in the matter! I love design because I love creating new realities and feelings and my job allows me to put a bit of myself in each project that I and my team create. My designs come from the soul – what I feel about the place at the moment. This means that my emotions are translated into designs.
Would you like to live in any of the locations and places you’ve designed?
You know… I used to say that I have a home but I do not have a house because I live around the world and sometimes is like you said… I live in the locations and places where my designs take shape. I like this experience because it is precisely this sum of the parts, the contact with different cultures, that defines the specifics of my work.
Savoy Palace is in your place of birth and hometown, so there’s obvious significance and personal interest in the project with locals and friends being able to visit. Did you feel any extra pressure or expectation due to this?
I must confess that I do. Savoy Palace is for me a homage to my homeland and this project allowed me to bring together a different number of loved elements: the exuberance of the surrounding Madeiran landscape, the unique man-made environment of the Island, particularly the old levadas and tunnels, the excellence and mastery of Madeira’s embroidery, the centuries-old art of wickerwork and the expertise involved in the production of one of the best fortified wines in the world – Madeira Wine. Is a very special project!
With two other hotels, the Saccharum and the Vine, on Madeira (The Vine is also in Funchal), how difficult or easy was it to find inspiration for the Savoy Palace?
They are totally different projects and there a different inspiration lies behind each of them! The Saccharum Hotel is a project inspired by the sugar cane culture and the old-brandy production; there used to be an old factory where the hotel is now located. The creative process is a true allegory to this universe.
The Vine Hotel is the project that has so far won the most awards ever! The hotel is 10 years old and remains an icon of design in hospitality. The creative concept was also inspired by the cultural heritage of the Madeira island but, at the Savoy Palace the scale is different and the references come up with a new reinterpretation and a creative look. In the specific case of Savoy, we have brought new sources of inspiration not yet addressed such as the embroidery, flowers and wicker. It’s what I often say … it’s not what you see, but what you feel and what you feel inside each project is completely different!
What was the biggest challenge when designing the Savoy Palace?
I may say that the biggest challenge was the space planning which I wanted to design in a very organic way with the main intention of giving humanity and versatility to the space, highlighted by the organic nature and curvilinear forms of materials.
Do you have a favourite space or room in the Savoy Palace and if so, where is it?
The reception area has a special atmosphere created by the presence of an impressive chandelier and large mirror that give a feeling of space, sumptuousness and grandeur. But being honest, I can’t choose just one favourite area because as you pass between the different floors of the hotel, you come across different types of environments, all very inspirational with the emphasis on bright colours, sinuous curves suggesting plant forms, animals and women, as well as ornaments clearly based on Art Nouveau. It will be a truly walk through dip Madeira.
What’s the attraction to social media and in particular Instagram which you seem to engage regularly with? Unlike Twitter where your last post was 16th Oct 2016.
Twitter was a social network limited to 150 characters, however that reality changed and the visual component gained notoriety. However, I must confess that I forgot that we had a Twitter account since we believe that Instagram is able to involve our followers much more with our designs.
“I do not follow trends, I create them!” What’s the next trend you’re looking to create?
Whatever it is it needs to be original!
What’s next for you?
We are currently engaged in several projects across Europe, America, Asia, Middle East and Africa and the ambition is to move forward step by step, doing what we love with excellence, quality and rigor. We keep the desire to create unique environments, to create fantasy and to turn fantasy into reality!
Savoy Palace/ Av. do Infante, 9004-542 Funchal, Portugal/ +351 291 213 500/ www.savoysignature.com/en/hotelstories/savoy-palace/
Atelier Nini Andrade Silva Funchal/ 125 Rua dos Ferreiros, 9000-082 Funchal, Madeiral/ +351 291 215 500/ firstname.lastname@example.org/ www.niniandradesilva.com/en/