Overseen by directors, Fiona Sutcliffe and François Lavenir, Sterling Studios is an expert authority in unique and exquisite bespoke finishes, from verre eglomise glass, crackle gesso and metal effects & finishes to specialist painting, murals, gilding, lacquer and more. Based in a 10,000-sq. ft. West London studio, the company has been in operation since 2003 and regularly works with a close network of design professionals, architects and commercial designers, including the likes of Alidad, Nicholas Haslam Ltd, Joanna Wood, Waldo Works, Todhunter Earle, Sagrada and Studio Indigo, amongst others.
Keen to find out a little more about Sterling Studios, Premier Hospitality recently sat down with Fiona Sutcliffe, Director Sterling Studios to talk about the company. Fiona spoke about some of the schemes that Sterling Studios has been involved with and highlighted the best way to combat a challenging project.
Hi Fiona, thank you for taking the time to speak with Premier Hospitality – perhaps you could tell us a little about some of the projects that are significant to Sterling Studio?
“You do not have to walk very far across London or any major city in the world before spotting a Sterling Studios piece of work. Our team are the hidden artisans of London and we create the finest pieces of wall art and interiors for many of London¹s prestigious hospitality locations.
“Many of London¹s current night-time hot spots, such as The Art¹s Club and Satoria, all house Sterling Studios creations. The extravagant reception rooms at The Ritz Casino contain hand-made panels and ceilings by us these creations are completely unique and any visitor to The Ritz Casino will leave with memories of our designs. Other significant projects include the six-metered mottled antique silver-leaved mirrors behind the bar at The London Edition Hotel.
“Also, the sapphire and emerald Rousseau-esque mural back painted glass at the International Services Department at Selfridges in Oxford Street can be credited to our studio. To give you an example of worldwide work, we have created finishes for GRAFF Diamonds in locations all over the world.”
What projects have you been working on over the past 12 months?
“Our hospitality projects over the past twelve months have included mirror finishes for Sartoria restaurant in Mayfair; bespoke mirrors and a salad bar in their new upstairs area of 5 Hertford Street – one of London’s finest hotspots; and a new Mayfair venue called the Chess Club will be featuring bespoke wall finishes from Sterling Studios.
“Outside of the hospitality sector, our work with Graff Diamonds continues and we are completing two showrooms in the USA in Houston and Saks in New York City.
“We continue to work with super-yacht designers, such as Terence Disdale and Redman Whiteley Dixon.”
Have these projects differed in any way to your usual line of work?
“All our designs and production are individually tailored for the project. The whole point of clients coming to Sterling Studios is for each project to be completely different from the last piece of work. We do not and have never offered to roll out the same finishes and outfits with projects, therefore, every project is different and completely unique.
“The landscape has very much changed in Sterling Studios’ favour and will continue to do so over the next few years. More and more clients, especially in the hospitality sector, are favouring completely bespoke finishes and they would like something to be remembered, something that is different from what everyone else has.”
What are the biggest challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
“The most challenging part of a project can be the client making a final decision on the choice of finish they like the most. In our West London studio, we house a treasure trove of sample finishes for clients to search amongst. We have over 20,000 design samples which clients can go through from abstract to figurative, traditional and modern. Clients can literally spend hours looking at all of these finishes admiring the bronze and turquoise crackle gesso, or samples with a silvery liquid metal finish.
“We overcome this challenge of making a final choice by listening to what the client would like and asking them to hear our suggestions of what would work in the property and then working with them to create a bespoke work of art.”
Are there any projects you’ve found too challenging?
“The challenge is always staying ahead with projects and pushing forward to be new and innovative. You always have to offer the new, the innovative, something unseen and the highest quality work. All of our projects are challenging but rewarding at the same time. We often take inspiration from the past and use our knowledge of antiques, combining traditional techniques and modern technology to create a unique design for our clients. Most of our clients want something completely bespoke and will come in and suggest ideas they want brought to life. This is always a challenge but a positive one. It is rewarding as clients will often push us to create new things.
“An example of a design challenge is of an interior designer client, Christina Fallah, who is currently creating a yacht for a client who loves ecology. We were challenged by the client’s vision of an ecology design. I’d been reading about a 19th-century German naturalist, Ernst Haeckel, and this all provided inspiration for the samples to the client.
“We constantly read and have a natural interest in history and art, which helps us be able to bring our clients’ ideas to life! Sterling Studios attracts a challenge with every single project and we like to say we can create anything we put our minds to.”
What would you say are the next big trends?
“Leather is most definitely a trend for interior finishes at the moment. Sterling Studios is gaining requests to create whole room environments fitted completely in leather. Embossed, gilded and painted leather panels were popular throughout Europe from the late Middle Ages to the 18th-century, with the first and most important centre of production being in Cordoba. Sterling Studios has restored several leather rooms and decided there must be a way of making similar leather panels for clients according to their preferred designs and colours.
“We are also working more and more with Scagliola, a finish we have been making for years and is now experiencing a revival. We can imitate coloured inlaid marble and it is generally used as table tops and wall cladding, including panelling, columns and pilasters.
“In the hospitality arena, it has become more of a trend to dress up lifts in a unique way too. It’s great because people often spend a few minutes in a lift, therefore, it can become a focal and talking point of a venue.”
That’s interesting to known and it sounds like the company always has an eye on what’s coming next. What would you say you are most proud of about Sterling Studios?
“I am most proud of Sterling Studios being a complete innovator in the interior design and hospitality sphere. Many venues come back to us over and over again for further work as everything we create is completely unique and done with passion and care.
“We have long-standing relationships with many hospitality venues and have also worked alongside many talented designers in the industry, such as Alidad, who we have worked with for years.
“Sterling Studios’ work will be seen in many hotels by thousands of visitors year on year. It is extremely satisfying to know Sterling Studios will have left a mark on the world and our creations have given so much aesthetic joy, have created interesting and relaxing environments, and have provided a talking point to many.”