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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Interview with Simone de Gale ARB RIBA

Simone de Gale ARB RIBA discusses her path to success and the art of architecture. By Rebekah Killigrew.

Simone de Gale is the CEO and Founder of her eponymous architectural practice, and a RIBA Honorary Treasurer and Board Trustee. She is also the CEO and Named Inventor of Blast Absorption Systems, a curved pre-stress manufacturing process that increases composite material performance.

 Simone was born, raised and studied in London, gaining her bachelor of arts degree at University of Westminster, her professional diploma at the University of East London, and her full qualification examinations at the Architectural Association in Bedford Square. Currently living in Kensington, with her studio based in Knightsbridge, Simone admits: “I have been recognised as ‘A true Londoner’ yes, it’s true. It’s also where we focus our architectural projects, in superprime London, or Zone 1 Central London, if you prefer.”

Though the focus of her work and life is currently in a defined area, Simone’s abilities and impressive work ethic is boundless. Here, she discusses how she went from a young child with an interest in her family’s construction work to the founder of a prestigious architectural practice working on multimillion-pound contracts.

Zetland House Cat A development 1 – Shoreditch, London

What is your earliest memory of design and architecture?

My grandfather was an Architect in the Caribbean and my father and uncles work in construction in London.  My earliest memory of design and architecture is when I was about 7 years old and we moved to our new home in Surrey.  My father and uncles made the most amazing and beautiful design for our home with opulent joinery, furniture and fittings. It was such a joy watching the work under construction and helping my father and uncle with lunch and fruit juice at breaks.  It gave me a chance to be with them and be part of the process.  Once completed, I used to sit and enjoy the lavish surroundings, and study the intricate details.  As I grew into teenage years, I would ask my dad if I could work with him on his projects, and help on any works being done to other family members’ homes.  I was about 10 years old when I decided to follow in my family trade.  I have a lot of male cousins, and whilst growing up, we would debate who would become the next Architect of the family, it became me.

Zetland House Cat A development 2 – Shoreditch, London

What kind of architect did you aspire to be?

I have always aspired to be my own architect, an architect of authenticity, creating a conglomerate of projects across the world from scratch.  I have been very artistic since I was a child, and my company was set up to explore artistry and beauty through architecture.  So I guess I am always competing with myself, challenging my knowledge, skill and interpretation of a design brief.  As our reputation grows, and project scale, our clients commission us on the basis of a ‘Simone de Gale’ signature design haus.  We are working towards creating the most beautiful and iconic architectural propositions across the world with projects in landmark locations and for high profile clientele.

Zetland House Cat A development 3 – Shoreditch, London

Who are your design/architecture inspirations?

I am inspired by Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid.  These are the three architects I most admire.  The work is of a beautiful sculpture.  Their projects look effortless, but the depth of design and attention to detail is incredible which connects with its users and forms iconic imagery for the industry.  Our design principles are to ‘explore rhythm, pattern and repetition in architecture, and these architects have similar methodologies towards their practise.

Beas of Bloomsbury Retail fit out – Marylebone, London

What does Simone de Gale represent as an architecture firm?

Simone de Gale represents beauty, integrity and style, which is aesthetically pleasing and mentally uplifting.  We represent innovation and forward thinking practices in a continual evolving industry.  We work generally with UHNW (ultra-high net worth) clients and superprime property development corporations.  This is telling of our local community in Belgravia and the prime focus of Central London developments where land can fetch up to £20,000 per square metre.  The high budgets and investments into property mean we are exploratory with our design propositions, and have the highest quality of construction, with some very interesting people to work with.

Adriatic Twin Towers – 200 luxury apartments – Rijeka, Croatia

How do you continue to carve your own path in the industry as a studio and an individual?

When I started my company, I set up four departments; Architect, Masterplan, Interiors, Innovation.  The business plan was drafted so that “each new commission is larger than its predecessor”.  These two factors help to benchmark progress and challenge the organization on its success, i.e. we can reflect at our annual general meeting on what we have done well and what requires more work, or investment.  Our innovation department helps us be at the forefront of new technologies and skills within industry, we have a patented materials technology invention working with the Ministry of Defence UK, for example.  We have won numerous awards for architecture, business, employment and sustainability.  This is a good check point for the development of our organization.

Cadogan Gardens Superprime development – Chelsea, London

Where is the majority of your work based?

Our work is in superprime London, or Zone 1 Central London, and Internationally.  Our international projects are mainly in Europe with a couple in the Caribbean, we are actively expanding into Asia, the Middle/Far East and the USA.  Our work sectors consist of superprime residential, multiple residential, retail and commercial (offices and industrial) projects, both new build and remodelling, and Cat A and Cat B fit outs and developments. 

Master of the Curve – Commercial Masterplan – Florence Italy

What has been your biggest design commission to date?

Our biggest design commission to date is for a £200mln masterplan in Tbilisi, Georgia for 3,000 new homes, retail, commercial and cultural facilities in 5.65mln sq.ft of new build architecture.  It is by far the most exciting and largest, and has been the backbone on which we have won a number of further commissions in Europe and expansion on masterplan design.  We are Lead Architects for this project, and in the majority of projects, we take up the role of Lead Architect and Principal Designer.  Sometimes we subcontract smaller architectural practices to take on certain aspects of our requirements, but the copyright and license remains property of Simone de Gale.

Residence Manjeri 1 – Kerala India

What does the face of architecture look like to you in 10 years time?

The face of architecture in 10 years’ time looks like my organization.  We are innovative and inspirational and have a lot of prestige and success under our belt.  Our proposals are beautiful and the voice of architecture. Projects which only meet minimal planning legislation and building regulations are not architecture to us, it is basic minimum standard.  Architecture is an artistry of intelligence, which creates experiences and transformative spaces for its users.  It is this in which we practise our design ethos and hold our integrity and in which we continue to grow.

If you hadn’t become an architect what would you be doing?

If I had not become an architect, I would have become an artist, so I guess I gained the best of both worlds in evolving my artistry through my architecture.

simonedegale.com | IG: @simonedegale

blastabsorptionsystems.co.uk

Rebekah Killigrew
Rebekah Killigrewhttp://www.rebekahkilligrew.com
Editor | ww.architecturemagazine.co.uk | www.interiordesigner.co.uk

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