Master Class: Iain Halliday

Australian based BKH opens an outpost in New York

Iain Halliday

…………………………

“I had always believed that our work could stand up in a world market, and there seemed to be no better time to try.”

-Iain Halliday

…………………………

Several months ago I was introduced to a handsome Australian gentleman named Hamish Adamson, who heads up the newly established New York offices of BKH (Burley Katon Halliday) on 5th avenue.

Now I freely admit that I’d not heard of the firm before meeting Hamish, but once I had the opportunity to see their magnificent work we here on the blog decided to profile the firm’s principle Iain Halliday in a Master Class post.

Via Skype Halliday explained that BKH has evolved over it’s 30 year history from a design house with a very strict modernist based style to something much broader.

Black room

…………………………

He went on further in explaining his firm’s aesthetic;

“The same strictness of ‘bone structure’ is still present in all projects but the palette & stylistic directions are now as diverse as our clients.  It is not unusual for us to have a client request a minimalist interior as we did in the 90’s, but we are now equally known for lush, layered spaces with rich textiles and antiques.

We particularly enjoy working on restaurants & spaces in the public realm where many people interact with our design decisions, as well as domestic interiors which represent the greatest part of our business.”

.

Red chairs1

…………………………

In my 25 year association with the interior design industry I’ve encountered several design firms that maintain offices in multiple cities, but I’ve never had the opportunity to talk with the principle of one such firm to get an understanding of the complexities of cross-cultural expansion.  I asked Halliday several questions about operating a design firm on 2 continents.

.

Can you tell me about your career in Australia?

As cheesy as it might sound my career has been pretty much what I had hoped it might be.  I have been fortunate enough to work at something I love and never tire of.  To create quality interiors and architecture is truly a labor of love – an intensive pursuit that when executed well – looks effortless. My company is over 30 years old; I have been a partner there since 1985 and the principal since 2009. Our work is diverse in client profile and style – each response is individual.  We have designed interiors for houses, shops, hotels, museums and boats – we are always happy to work at something new.

.

Restaruant

Rosetta Restaurant, Melbourne, Australia

…………………………

You recently opened an office in New York City, why did you choose your first outpost to be here?

New York has always fascinated me.  I studied interior design and architecture in the early 1980’s and poured over publications such as Architectural Digest and Interior Design.  The articles on New York interiors seemed at the time so polished – and of course always featured a skyline view.  I first visited NYC in 1986 and was smitten.  When a senior staff member relocated to NYC in 2008 and was offered a job in a highly respected firm I called her and said ‘why not start a satellite office for us’.  I had always believed that our work could stand up in a world market and there seemed to be no better time to try.

.

Marble bath

…………………………

How does the design and decoration industry at home differ from here in the States?  Are the business models similar?

I believe that the industry in Australia is actually very similar to the US.  The greatest point of departure is that we tend to offer a comprehensive service encompassing both architecture & decoration rather than specializing in one and collaborating on the other.

.

How do Americans respond to you as an Australian designer?

Generally very positively.  Obviously there is initial curiosity about our accents and why we might be working in a city full of famous decorators – but once they realize that we know and believe in what we are doing they are very responsive.

.

Beachhouse

…………………………

Looking at your work I see a Francophile sensibility, would you say that’s an accurate observation?

Yes, next to New York City my favorite city is Paris.  I am obsessed with French furniture and interiors – particularly 18th & mid 20th century – the colors, materials and scale are so elegant to me.

.

What could a potential client expect from the experience of engaging your firm?

Potential clients can expect a great deal of personal attention, a timeless, bespoke approach which blends clarity of line and refined detail in the context of client aspirations and functional requirements.

.

Mudcloth

…………………………

I think it quite clear from the images BKH shared with me that the firm is going to have a very successful experience in New York – with Iain Halliday’s level of sophistication and taste very well received.  It was equally clear from my conversations with Hamish Adamson (who began his career in America working for Christopher Coleman and Andy Goldsborough) that he is the perfect representative for the firm in the states.

Spend some time viewing BKH’s extensive portfolio on their website, I’m certain you’ll enjoy their work as much as we have.

…………………………

63962_160014457351054_856807_n

501 5th Avenue  Suite 805  New York City  10017    212-206-6569

http://www.bkh.com.au/index.php

Facebook     Pinterest    LinkedIn

.

Written by CJ Dellatore

Leave a Reply