Since launching ten years ago, award-winning interior design practice, Design by UBER have completed a raft of prestigious projects across the globe. Whilst adhering to a core principle of accessibility, the design team have found a niche in the prime and super-prime residential market. Known for their ability to perfectly balance the classic and contemporary whilst flawlessly fusing styles to create utterly unique spaces, it is little wonder that they have made themselves known in the ultra-luxury market. Past projects have swung the design spectrum from grade II listed homes to luxury jets and super sleek new build properties. Managing Director, Simon Evans, explains “Key to success in the upper end of the luxury market is ensuring that our clients’ lifestyle is central to everything we do. The concept architecture, space planning and aesthetics are all considered with that central tenet in mind.”
Indeed, many of the client briefs Design by UBER receive are entirely lifestyle driven. A classic case in point is the multi award-winning “man cave” – a subterranean space which UBER ingeniously transformed into what can only be described as the ultimate boy’s toys trophy cabinet, resplendent with a magnificent McLaren 650S revolving on a turntable as the show-stopping centrepiece. The brief for this project was amazingly loose, the client simply wanted to be able to house two or three of his supercar collection in the garage and convert some of the space into a place where he could relax with friends.
How that rather generic brief evolved into a high-tech spectacle of design innovation was somewhat of an organic evolution. The embryonic idea of the turntable was born out of functional requirement as there was very limited space to work with, an issue further compounded by two huge structural support columns which were positioned awkwardly in the middle of the space; this would have made it challenging to manoeuvre the car in and out of the garage. From this initial notion grew the concept of showcasing the car in a glass cylinder with a wine cellar and entertainment room strategically placed around this central focal point. A project of this magnitude and ambition is a finely tuned process.
Furthermore, the technological complexity of this venture was ground breaking and had to be meticulously planned. There is the facility to start the car from a touch panel, rotate the vehicle in a continual display setting or place it in pre-set positions. It also offers temperature control for the chilled wine cellar and entertainment room as well as pre-programmed music settings. Floor sensors on gate entry detect which vehicle is entering the garage and all the settings can be customised to suit the particular driver as they drive in, from the music that greets them, to the lighting and even heating levels.
When it came to looking at the design scheme itself, Design by UBER wanted to create a feeling of escapism often found in an upmarket club and so they opted for a dark palette and rich textures to create a decadent feel. They used a number of tactile products ranging from crushed metal handles to eel skin wallpaper and faux crocodile leather floors to further cultivate the feeling of upmarket luxury. Cleverly positioned low level lighting was used to highlight the light and shade of the textures. The key element used throughout the scheme to give it a seamless feel is smoky quartz which is backlit in the ceiling elements, wine flooring and in the backdrop to the liquor display cabinetry.
Ultra-luxurious subterranean leisure suites have become somewhat of a speciality for Design by UBER with another ambitious project involving an extravagant 11,000 square foot below ground leisure complex. The extensive space included a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, treatment rooms, social areas and games areas as well as a bowling alley and garaging for up to eight luxury vehicles.
Simon explains “Scale and proportion were a key part of this project, enabling us to create a cohesive well thought through space which serves the needs of a luxury lifestyle”. Design by UBER crafted a space with finishes akin to those used in a 6-star hotel, offering the ultimate in opulent splendour. A palette of luxurious materials was used throughout and extravagant details are found in abundance.
“One of my highlights from this project” says Simon “is a carved plaster wall gilded with gold leaf, complemented by a ripple effect basilica champagne eglomise glass ceiling panel. The effect of the contrasting textured surfaces is one of pure theatrical decadence.” Another signature element of the scheme, the bowling alley, was designed in rich, dark tones with hedonistic finishes – bowling lanes crafted from highly polished black ash inlaid with brass, large format Italian marble floor tiles, and geometric pattern leather wall panels which run the length of the space and are interspersed with bronze mirrored panelling. The effect that is created is reminiscent of an atmospheric “house of mirrors”. No mention of this project would be complete without reference to the fabulous eight car showcase garage. Opulence abounds here too with a calacatta verde marble floor and antiqued mirror panels on the walls and ceiling. Each car sits in its own parking bay of grey limestone with inset perimeter lighting to illuminate it.
Projects of the magnitude and ambition of these require meticulous planning and attention to detail. They draw on the skills of all of UBER’s design and architectural team both creatively and technically. However, ultimately what makes them work is an intuitive understanding of the lifestyle the space will serve.