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Broader perspectives: How travel creates multicultural interior design solutions

Dubai. Sri Lanka. UK. Opening up my world through travel gives my clients new ideas, and new ways to express the human experience

By Andrew Morrell, Miami, FL

Designing Interiors around the world—from London to Miami—and working on projects from night clubs to emergency rooms, has exposed me to multicultural influences that have broadened my perspective. It has definitely changed how I see, feel, and ultimately, design the world around me.

Born and raised in Nottingham, England, I knew from an early age I had an affinity for design. I enrolled in a Spatial Design course at 16—which guided me to the Interior Design course at De Montfort University Leicester, England. After graduating I became a freelance Interior designer working on projects within various sectors around the UK and overseas.  I was invited to work freelance in Dubai, one of the Seven United Arab Emirates. Dubai is on the forefront of design, and I discovered that here, I could create what others may only conceptualize in other parts of the world; only limited by my imagination. I spent nearly nine years in Dubai, worked on some amazing projects from 5-star hotels like the Sofitel Palm Jumeirah to huge healthcare communities such as Al Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi and Naufar, a rehabilitation center project in Qatar.

Outside of my career, I also personally enjoyed my tenure in Dubai as its central location enabled me to travel to countries throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, and absorb design influences from different cultures. 

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A colleague and friend of mine relocated to Stantec’s Miami, Florida office and mentioned there was a job opportunity there with the Interiors Hospitality Group. It was another opportunity to work with a new, young, vibrant team and broaden my design horizons from yet another cultural perspective. I’d never seen Miami, or much of the US, for that matter. So, I took the job as senior designer and manager with the hospitality group in 2016.

I’m now living and working in Miami. I bring to this design team my past experiences from living in different lands. It’s true, design cultures vary depending upon the region, because the end users and communities are so different. The main advantage of having an International Interior designer like me on a team is they can work with local designers to remove preconceived notions about trends and innovation. I have no such preconceived notions—my only focus is to listen to the client, and offer solutions from a multicultural perspective—so that the most appropriate design becomes evident.

For example, what might be considered “normal” in a European “water closet” (or toilet), would be different in the Americas, Europe, or Asia. The concealed cistern is widely used throughout Europe, and allows for more interior design possibilities over the flush valves or exposed cisterns typically seen in the US. A preconceived notion in Miami is that concealed cisterns are only available at a higher cost, are more difficult to maintain, and have a higher gallon per flush rate. This simply isn’t true. Geberit is an example of a supplier who has developed easy-access, cost-effective concealed cisterns with lower flush rates.

I’ve been in Miami now for several months. As part of the hospitality team, I’m working on some exciting projects with talented people. I’ve brought with me a global library of materials and manufacturers (like that mentioned above). This is an opportunity to share my previous experiences with the Miami design team and expose our clients to international design and concepts.

A multicultural influence can offer an aesthetic palette influenced by various philosophies, and we can then select the best and brightest ideas from each one. So whether we’re designing a residential building with high-end amenities in St. Petersburg, Florida, or working with an international client that wants to invest in property around the globe—my vision is to provide local clients with design solutions that are also translatable to the international community. No matter where your interior designer “sits,” it’s important their inspiration is multicultural, and that they’re looking outside the boundaries of their own backyard. That’s what I endeavor to provide to clients—an “international perspective,” mixed with local flair! 

So whether we’re designing a residential building with high-end amenities in St. Petersburg, Florida, or working with an international client that wants to invest in property around the globe—we can provide local clients with design solutions that are also translatable to the international community.

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