All that jazz

Designer Paul Bishop tells CID about how cinematography has influenced the way he approaches the design of commercial spaces

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By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  May 7, 2006

|~|Q&A-Paul.jpg|~||~|Paul Bishop is celebrating ten years designing some of Dubai’s most high profile commercial spaces; he talks about concept visualisation, gleaning inspiration from film and the importance of originality in a city where nothing is impossible.

CID: How did you start out in interior design?
Initially I studied a foundation in fine art and then a furniture/product design course at the West Sussex College of Art and Design. I then made the transition into interior design with a degree at Berkshire School of Art and Design where I won the RSA Bursary competition for ‘Interior Architecture and Environmental Urban Design’ and was elected to become a Fellow of the RSA, which was a massive honour. I studied Interior Architecture at Kingston, then graduated with a Masters from Manchester under the tutorage of greats like Lord Norman Foster, Ben Kelly and Eric Owen Moss.

CID: With such a varied background in design, how did you decide to specialise in interiors?
My Masters thesis was collectively a post modern text, questioning the viability of the fragmentation of space, place and time inherent within interior, architectural and filmatic space. It was then that I realised the importance of subliminal messages and how objects can evoke memories, not just in film but in real tangible spaces too. The conceptualisation of any space is the most important aspect.

CID: What projects have you worked on in Dubai?
The Aston Martin corporate offices in Emirates Towers, Leo Burnett offices in Dubai Media City, DIFC headquarters. In addition, I changed the corporate identity of Dubai Islamic Bank, which is now being implemented in their offices worldwide. Frank Muller in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Cin Cin, Exchange grill and sushi café at the Fairmont, I conceptualised the Spa in Jumeirah Beach Hotel in addition to two pool bars and I’m currently in talks with the Fairmont about a regeneration program.

CID: Can you talk us through how you develop a concept for a commercial space?
You have to continually question the environment, and if you don’t, it becomes static. Every space determines its own aesthetic, you can’t just pick up a design and plant it down in another space and expect it to work — it won’t. I like to create timeless environments, by devising a narrative where one didn’t exist before. With DIFC I wanted to create a sense of tradition, reminiscent of financial institutions from a century ago, so I introduced a lot of brass, walnut wood and leather to create a sense of history.

CID: Your entire career has been spent in the GCC, how do you find designing in Dubai?
Careers are accelerated in Dubai, in fact everything is accelerated. You never get the same time allowances as in the UK, but being here has made me realise that designers in the UK are spoilt, you CAN do it quickly if you need to, you just need to get focused faster. It is important to adapt to designing in Dubai; time is the most important aspect for clients here. I think I was actually very lucky that I started my career here and I didn’t have the preconditioned attitude that a lot of international designers have when working here.

CID: Are there any downsides to locating yourself in the Middle East?
It is more difficult to break into international or European projects from being based here and one other major difference I found with working in Dubai when I first started was finding resources. In the days before the internet, compiling research was really difficult. I remember when I was commissioned for my first project and I asked them where the library was, I was just faced with incredulity. In an industry such as ours, development is key and with no resources to speak of, it makes it that bit harder.

CID: So how can designers constantly evolve and come up with ground-breaking new designs?
That’s the trouble! A real issue for credible designers is plagerism, which is especially rife in Dubai as people think they can just fall into this business without training and experience just by copying other more established designers’ work. Ideas are there to be developed, to inspire. Designs are not sacred, you can’t own a concept but you shouldn’t collect other people’s ideas and montage them together. I recently saw a project that is nigh on identical to a project I did over five years ago and I felt sorry for the client, that a) they were getting a design that was conceived five years ago and b) the designer they chose didn’t have the flair or imagination to come up with an original design. It is lazy designing, and it’s not flattering when someone copies and pastes your work, it is much more of a compliment if another designer develops your idea in an original way.

CID: Do you have a signature style that sums up Paul Bishop Design?
Not in terms of what materials I like to use as I am constantly upgrading and resourcing the latest products and applications. I haven’t got a favourite type of flooring, or I don’t always use curves or straight lines, although I love glass and use it a lot. I like fluidity of lines, space and structure. My design was once described as a ‘piece of jazz’ and at the time, I didn’t know if this was a compliment or not, but now I see it as one. It’s a synergy between spatial dynamics and aesthetic creativity, it’s the interaction of multiple elements, autonomous in style but homogenous within an interior spatial dimension, eclectic simplicity, harmonised elegance. Maybe that’s my signature. I am proud that I could walk into every space I have designed and I would still like it; for me that’s the biggest test.

CID: What does the future hold for Paul Bishop Design?
I would really like to get into designing the interiors for film sets. I enjoy the idea of manipulating the viewers by creating a space that lasts within time even though it is inherently ephemeral. Interior design is kinetic, architecture is concrete, literally. You can restyle architecture, but you can’t change it beyond recognition the way you can with interiors. Interior design is intrinsically linked with fashion, art, music and the latest trends that dictate and shape our society, which we float in and out of upon a daily basis. These principal concepts reflect and document a time in history, which in turn dates and becomes obsolete, in theory, I aim to create spaces that are timeless. ||**|||~|Q&A-Body.jpg|~||~|
CID: Can you talk us through how you develop a concept for a commercial space?
You have to continually question the environment, and if you don’t, it becomes static. Every space determines its own aesthetic, you can’t just pick up a design and plant it down in another space and expect it to work — it won’t. I like to create timeless environments, by devising a narrative where one didn’t exist before. With DIFC I wanted to create a sense of tradition, reminiscent of financial institutions from a century ago, so I introduced a lot of brass, walnut wood and leather to create a sense of history.

CID: Your entire career has been spent in the GCC, how do you find designing in Dubai?
Careers are accelerated in Dubai, in fact everything is accelerated. You never get the same time allowances as in the UK, but being here has made me realise that designers in the UK are spoilt, you CAN do it quickly if you need to, you just need to get focused faster. It is important to adapt to designing in Dubai; time is the most important aspect for clients here. I think I was actually very lucky that I started my career here and I didn’t have the preconditioned attitude that a lot of international designers have when working here.

CID: Are there any downsides to locating yourself in the Middle East?
It is more difficult to break into international or European projects from being based here and one other major difference I found with working in Dubai when I first started was finding resources. In the days before the internet, compiling research was really difficult. I remember when I was commissioned for my first project and I asked them where the library was, I was just faced with incredulity. In an industry such as ours, development is key and with no resources to speak of, it makes it that bit harder.

CID: So how can designers constantly evolve and come up with ground-breaking new designs?
That’s the trouble! A real issue for credible designers is plagerism, which is especially rife in Dubai as people think they can just fall into this business without training and experience just by copying other more established designers’ work. Ideas are there to be developed, to inspire. Designs are not sacred, you can’t own a concept but you shouldn’t collect other people’s ideas and montage them together. I recently saw a project that is nigh on identical to a project I did over five years ago and I felt sorry for the client, that a) they were getting a design that was conceived five years ago and b) the designer they chose didn’t have the flair or imagination to come up with an original design. It is lazy designing, and it’s not flattering when someone copies and pastes your work, it is much more of a compliment if another designer develops your idea in an original way.

CID: Do you have a signature style that sums up Paul Bishop Design?
Not in terms of what materials I like to use as I am constantly upgrading and resourcing the latest products and applications. I haven’t got a favourite type of flooring, or I don’t always use curves or straight lines, although I love glass and use it a lot. I like fluidity of lines, space and structure. My design was once described as a ‘piece of jazz’ and at the time, I didn’t know if this was a compliment or not, but now I see it as one. It’s a synergy between spatial dynamics and aesthetic creativity, it’s the interaction of multiple elements, autonomous in style but homogenous within an interior spatial dimension, eclectic simplicity, harmonised elegance. Maybe that’s my signature. I am proud that I could walk into every space I have designed and I would still like it; for me that’s the biggest test.

CID: What does the future hold for Paul Bishop Design?
I would really like to get into designing the interiors for film sets. I enjoy the idea of manipulating the viewers by creating a space that lasts within time even though it is inherently ephemeral. Interior design is kinetic, architecture is concrete, literally. You can restyle architecture, but you can’t change it beyond recognition the way you can with interiors. Interior design is intrinsically linked with fashion, art, music and the latest trends that dictate and shape our society, which we float in and out of upon a daily basis. These principal concepts reflect and document a time in history, which in turn dates and becomes obsolete, in theory, I aim to create spaces that are timeless. ||**|||~|Q&A-body2.jpg|~||~|
CID: So how can designers constantly evolve and come up with ground-breaking new designs?
That’s the trouble! A real issue for credible designers is plagerism, which is especially rife in Dubai as people think they can just fall into this business without training and experience just by copying other more established designers’ work. Ideas are there to be developed, to inspire. Designs are not sacred, you can’t own a concept but you shouldn’t collect other people’s ideas and montage them together. I recently saw a project that is nigh on identical to a project I did over five years ago and I felt sorry for the client, that a) they were getting a design that was conceived five years ago and b) the designer they chose didn’t have the flair or imagination to come up with an original design. It is lazy designing, and it’s not flattering when someone copies and pastes your work, it is much more of a compliment if another designer develops your idea in an original way.

CID: Do you have a signature style that sums up Paul Bishop Design?
Not in terms of what materials I like to use as I am constantly upgrading and resourcing the latest products and applications. I haven’t got a favourite type of flooring, or I don’t always use curves or straight lines, although I love glass and use it a lot. I like fluidity of lines, space and structure. My design was once described as a ‘piece of jazz’ and at the time, I didn’t know if this was a compliment or not, but now I see it as one. It’s a synergy between spatial dynamics and aesthetic creativity, it’s the interaction of multiple elements, autonomous in style but homogenous within an interior spatial dimension, eclectic simplicity, harmonised elegance. Maybe that’s my signature. I am proud that I could walk into every space I have designed and I would still like it; for me that’s the biggest test.

CID: What does the future hold for Paul Bishop Design?
I would really like to get into designing the interiors for film sets. I enjoy the idea of manipulating the viewers by creating a space that lasts within time even though it is inherently ephemeral. Interior design is kinetic, architecture is concrete, literally. You can restyle architecture, but you can’t change it beyond recognition the way you can with interiors. Interior design is intrinsically linked with fashion, art, music and the latest trends that dictate and shape our society, which we float in and out of upon a daily basis. These principal concepts reflect and document a time in history, which in turn dates and becomes obsolete, in theory, I aim to create spaces that are timeless. ||**||

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