Creativity, philosophy and being bold

Head of Design, Jorge Khawam is currently leading five large residential projects in London and two of the studio’s first international projects – an all-suite boutique hotel in Mykonos and design of a hospitality concept in Saudi Arabia.

Unique handmade artwork.

OWN London head of design Jorge Khawam.

You started your career in urban architecture and interior architecture, later moving into interior design, how has this shaped your design Approach?


My work has evolved constantly over the years. It started with a very minimal ‘black and white’ architecture that has evolved project after project, layer after layer, year after year. Today, when I design, the whole room or environment becomes one. I consider how spaces flow into one another and imagine how it feels to be inside the space. The impact of a window, the height of lamp, the position of a painting. No detail goes unthought. A multi-sensory, three-dimensional holistic experience. That’s how I would describe my expression of design.



Is this particularly important working with private clients?


Absolutely. The client’s lifestyle becomes the context as much as the project itself. When I am designing a family home, I think not only about the use of space, but the layers that will create the best experience for the client. In our recent Windsor Way residential project, every detail was considered to enhance and maximise day to day life in their family home. The original footprint of the property with dark, small spaces made it a complex project. We removed the original cornicing and used shadow gaps to enhance the feeling of lightness and space. In the family room, we designed a striking bespoke architectural shelving unit to create divisions between work and play. Bespoke finishes, such as the brass liquid metal used on the kitchen cupboards were considered at the time of spatial planning to ensure the right amount of reflect daylight and warmth would enhance the space.



In contrast, you recently completed the chic refurbishment of Tomtom Cigars in Belgravia that was exclusively covered by Nick Foulkes in FT How to Spend It.  What was your approach for this project?


For me this project was very exciting. We had to combine a world-class retail experience with a club-like feel; a place where regular clients could come to enjoy their favourite smokes, like an extension of their homes. From the tobacco hued colour scheme to the nostalgic feel of the timber joinery and the atmosphere conjured when cigars are lit under the antique mirrored ceiling, every detail was considered down to human measure.

Bespoke luxury cigar lounge with timber and black marble.

TomTom, Belgravia

You initially trained at the Central University of Venezuela before winning a scholarship to study in Germany and have since worked at several internationally-acclaimed studios in London. How has this shaped your international design language?


I am a passionate collector of inspiration found through travel, nature, history and architecture. Travel is hugely important to discover new things, discover new materials. In the studio, we are a very international team. This cross-cultural exchange inspires creativity and craftsmanship and leads to a truly multifaceted design vocabulary. This keeps it exciting for our clients.



How would you describe the studio’s design philosophy?


Modern Eclecticism captures the essence of our design vocabulary. It refers to our love of mixing different genres, materiality and texture. Every era of design has its gems; we often combine contemporary, minimalistic and traditional styles all in one space. We love to mix modern sensibilities with specially sourced antiques to infuse a unique character. From antiques to postmodern furniture, every item represents years of developing a specific profile, a detail and a craftsmanship.

Contemporary bedroom decoration and design.

Windsor Way, W4

Is it true that your heroes are Carlo Scarpa, Luis Bustamante and Lazzaro Rosa Violan?


Yes, these are a few of the visionaries that I admire. In particular their ability to design homes and buildings that resonate warmth and elegance in a fresh modernist style.



In your role, managing an array of complex projects, clients and a growing team of spatial planners, interior architects and interior designers, are you still learning?


Every day. Personally, not to be scared of being brave, being bold. I love new challenges and to reinvent every time. When it comes to the team, I try to impart my experience and nurture collaboration between the teams to design spaces as a whole and consider all the little details …