Talking Design


Interview with Vaios Tsigas, Construction Director at OWN LONDON

What excites you most about your role as Construction Director of OWN LONDON?


Always having new challenges. There are constantly new projects, specific finishes to execute, and a variety of designs to bring to life. I’ve been part of the team from ground zero and am very proud of where we are now.

My first experience in construction was building mega yachts; a sector and product that required the highest levels of attention to detail and technical measurements, and this stood me in good stead for the high level designs created at OWN LONDON.

Our current projects are very detailed, and with the in-house design team it makes it so much easier than dealing with lots of external architects and different designers who often don’t share the same values.



You have accrued a vast amount of technical knowledge during your career – can you share some examples of challenging projects you have delivered which have demanded the utmost attention to detail?


At Windsor Way we designed and created a bespoke mosaic marble floor for the Client in the kitchen and master bathroom. To achieve the right shape for the pieces and a seamless finish with no visible gaps, I needed to select the very best craftsmen and machinery.

Our design at TomTom cigars included a display unit made of brass. This was very difficult as we needed to run LED lights across it without showing any cables in the brass tubes. Our solution was to install them at an angle. We made a full-size mock-up to test the best technical details; it was a great example of a team of eight people working as one mind.



Your experience spans the construction of commercial, hospitality and high-end residential developments as a well as government projects. How do these experiences inform your approach to your role at OWN LONDON?


It’s all about having the right team. In my previous career I was an athlete and then a coach; I had to select the right player for the right role. It required a lot of study and thinking to create a winning team. The same applies now.

We have 45 people in the construction team – craftsman, engineers and architects – looking after nine projects. Everyone needs to be happy in what they are doing and we have to have a great vibe. If we have an individual who is the best at what they do but they don’t contribute to the team, they have to go. It’s my job to guide and nurture the team so that we deliver the greatest results.



Can you tell us how you work together with the other disciplines of the business to deliver the best possible quality?


I work very closely with the design team on the fine details to ensure everything within a project can be executed. I then work with the construction team and explain step by step how to achieve it. A great example is a recent private office project in Mayfair where the Client wanted a large co-working station made from one solid piece of limestone. We worked together as a team of designers, spatial planners, stone masons, electricians and makers to create a life-size model to test and experiment before it was installed on site.

When it comes to construction drawings, I work closely with the designers before they produce the final drawing that goes to the Client to ensure the design is working. If it is not, we find a solution.

Before having an in-house design team, we would often experience problems working with external architects and designers where design concepts had been proposed to Clients but the rigorous process of assessing, refining, challenging the design for delivery had been missed.

Now we have all the information under one roof and can meet at any time to discuss practicalities so we can deliver on time and to programme and achieve excellence. We have a very exciting culture.



Which buildings are your greatest sources of inspiration?


I love old buildings; heritage buildings are what have kept me in the UK for so long – it’s certainly not the weather! I am always amazed by discovering how buildings have been made; it’s not what you see initially but what’s behind their walls.

Victorian buildings and façades remind me of my childhood growing up in an old town in Northern Greece, and having the privilege to meet the stone masons responsible for the magnificent stone buildings and bridges. My grandfather was a craftsman working with wood and he introduced me to many of them. This inspired my career and the pursuit of my passion for construction. Even as an athlete, I always knew this was my true path. You could say that I have ended up doing what I always dreamed of.