Talking future chalet design with Nicky Dobree
Nicky Dobree is an award winning international interior designer who has long been credited with establishing a new trend for Alpine Luxury with her chalet designs.
In 2004, Grand Designs Abroad showcased the British designer’s battle to bring her cutting edge style to the mountains, with the conversion of a 300 year old alpine farmhouse in Les Gets. The result was the Ferme de Moudon chalet, described by Kevin McCloud as the "ultimate James Bond pad’ and labelled “The finest winter house in the French Alps” by Tatler.
Her reputation has continued to skyrocket and over the last decade Nicky Dobree Interior Design has designed and built chalets throughout Europe’s elite ski resorts.
We talk to Nicky about her design influences, the effects the evolution in technology has had on her designs and the future of chalet design.
What drew you to the mountains and chalet interior design?
A love of the mountains and an escape from the city. The mountains have been part of my husband and my life since childhood. We grew up skiing in the mountains, and then we both worked in the mountains. It was a natural place for us to find a home. Being a designer I then designed our first mountain home and the design of chalets took off from there.
Your first chalet project, La Ferme de Moudon in Les Gets, is acclaimed for creating a new aesthetic for luxury chalets. Who or what were the biggest design influences for the property and your now signature style?
My major influences came from travel, my family and living in London. A combination of all of these have created an aesthetic of modern comfort with a deep sense of location. With every project I find a way of making these two essential elements work together.
What are the most important factors you consider when developing a look for a chalet?
The client is the most important. They each have a brief and a story to tell and these together with the location of the chalet act as the foundation to the project.
What are the biggest challenges you face on chalet design projects?
Every project has its challenges but with chalets it is invariably access, weather and managing the build between the seasons. Over and above these there is the challenge of working in a foreign country, understanding the cultural issues, the local approach to work, the deadlines, managing the details and the vision for the project.
When it comes to the furnishings there are also imports and logistics to manage across borders but with 15 years of experience, most of this is now well understood by the team and we have good systems and processes in place.
How do you create contemporary styles that still meet the character of the mountains?
This is perhaps is at the heart of what I do, it is part of the evolving aesthetic that has been developed at Nicky Dobree Designs. Clients want their chalets to be comfortable, elegant homes yet not loose touch with where they are.
Timber plays a huge part in the interior of chalet and by carefully selecting the type of timber and balancing it with the plaster will dictate the envelope style of the chalet. Many of the soft furnishings are contemporary choices but are upholstered in wool leather or linen and then layered with cashmere and fur to keep them in character with the mountains.
You talk about the importance of materials. What is the process for selecting these materials and what efforts do you make to ensure you source responsibly?
Sustainable design is hugely important to me and where possible I try to make sure that I know the provenance of the products that we use. For customs clearance we need to have a certificate of origin for all items so I invariably do! Many of my interiors embody original and bespoke solutions too working closely with craftsmen to create something that is local and unique. Artisanal produced pieces will always be exclusive over and above the "big brands"
In addition to your interior design projects, you have created a collection of interior and lifestyle essentials. How did this come about and what was the inspiration for the collection?
Customer demand. I began to get calls from people who had seen my interiors in the press and wanted to know where I had got the pieces from. I started with a small online collection, but have now broadened the range. My latest project is a studio retail outlet in Moreton Street in SW1 (Pimlico). It’s very exciting to have a shop front.
Our relationship with technology at home has changed dramatically over the last decade, how are you integrating tech into your designs now? Or do your clients enjoy disconnecting when in the mountains?
"The Internet of Things" is something that we are all aware of and difficult to ignore. Clients want to have the option to connect or disconnect when in the mountains so it is important that the technology is integrated into each design. Lighting and audio visual design play a key role in the interior too. You can change the atmosphere of the room at the touch of a button, sit back in the cinema seats and watch a movie or listen to music as if it is live in the room.
What emerging style trends do you expect to feature prominently in luxury chalet design in the coming years?
There are so many new build chalets in the Alps, often without a feel for the location. I think that there will be a demand for a return to the older farmhouse more detached and authentic.
You have designed chalets in the most renowned luxury ski resorts in the world, including Verbier, Val d’Isere, St Moritz, Gstaad and Chamonix amongst others. In your opinion, where is the next ski destination to break into this exclusive club?
We have seen property prices rocket in parts of the Portes du Soleil in the last couple of years, especially in Les Gets and Morzine. We talk much about France and Switzerland but Italy and Austria have some wonderful ski destinations too.
Ferme de Moudon is available to rent throughout winter and summer
For further information on Nicky Dobree Interior Design visit www.nickydobree.com
Van Loon Sport’s Modaluxe® base layers are included alongside the Nicky Dobree Collection this winter at Ferme de Moudon.