An Interview with Simon Shaw
Andrew Murray catches up with Simon Shaw in Morpheus’ recently completed club lounge at Six Senses Residences Courchevel.
So Simon, important questions first, as one of the tallest English rugby players how is your skiing going?
As you have already seen from our brief encounter on the slopes, whilst not being as technically proficient as most, I am very adept and avoiding trouble and not falling over. I’m sure this will come as a great relief to all the other skiers here this week!
Since finishing your playing career for Toulon in 2013 where has your focus been?
I have been very lucky to have had a great number of exciting and interesting opportunities to get involved in. Some of those opportunities I have created myself and others have come about by chance meetings and networking. I think I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit coupled with a philanthropic wish to help others so I am always interested in meeting and speaking to likeminded people and sharing ideas. To that end I am a founding partner in an Events and Hospitality business, an investor, creator of a Charity based website called InMyLocker.com, a part-time property developer, a consultant for a Data Analytics Company and a Brand Ambassador for a number of other companies. Oh, and during the past 3 years, my main role was to assist with the European expansion plans for a Hotel and Spa chain and occasionally give myself a physical challenge by way of a wacky charity endurance event.
Clearly the real estate industry is a prominent interest for you – what attracts you to this sector?
I have always been more of a creative person rather than necessarily academic. Had rugby not been such a huge part of my life, I would have almost certainly used design as a career pathway. As a youngster growing up in Kenya, I had a fascination for European architecture. My Grandparents, who were from the U.K, came to visit us for a holiday and happened to bring over an edition of Country Life magazine with them in their luggage. Whilst thumbing through this particular edition, I immediately became transfixed by the amazing properties that featured in it and wanted to see more and more of them. Coincidentally my Grandparents were also guardians of a grand Lincolnshire estate and after visiting them this only served to fuel my interest more. From that moment on I had always dreamed of buying/building or renovating similarly beautiful buildings.
There’s clearly a lot of synergy between hospitality and real-estate – we are sitting in a living example of it – what for you are the key ingredients, and the differences between success and failure?
I believe the key design ingredient within hospitality or real estate spaces, and this is probably true across most demographic groups, is simplicity. Regarding the use of technology; smart, straightforward technology, and regarding the space itself; planning of spaces, ease of circulation, simple, easy-to-understand design. Over-the-top and extravagant spaces are largely out of sync with consumer values. Understated elegance is the aesthetic expression that I believe most consumers are seeking. Ultimately design elements within hospitality and real estate spaces should change something in you emotionally and clearly I mean that in a positive way. At the moment, I think any design must consider the need to take the consumer away from the stresses and strains of the outside world, the ever decreasing availability and affordability of space and promote well-being, relaxation, serenity through clever, practical use of space with an emphasis of multipurpose furniture.
From our previous conversations around our P.O.D initiative; yacht design mentality in a residential setting, I know that exceptional design is as important to you as well-considered functionality. Given that you travel a lot, what would be the attraction to you of compact-living?
I guess this could be seen as an ideal space that is giving equal consideration to both sides of the modern lifestyle and addressing how a limited space can accommodate the design consideration of two extreme needs. As you rightly point out, I travel a lot. Whenever I land I want to know I will arrive at a place that has an equal measure of comfort and relaxation for when I no longer want to face the world, but also provides practical, business class facilities to accomplish everything I need to in the short space of time that I have. A compact home away from home with high end adaptability and technology. I hear so often these days of top executives working a 3 day week, or jetting in from the other side of the planet for a couple of days work and often these top executives will chose 5 star accommodation. Hotels, even if they are business hotels, lack the facilities and technology to provide a truly remote or secondary office space. People might often look to a temporary office provider, which means that they have to move between one space and the other, meaning a lot of their precious time is wasted. Add gym facilities, board rooms, a restaurant and communal networking/members lounge and work associates and colleagues will be coming to you for meetings, giving you an extra half hour in the gym, which most of us could do with, quite frankly.
We’ve discussed before the challenges facing sportsmen coming into ‘civvy street’ and I know this is something close to your heart. What do you feel are the opportunities that are being missed and how are these best overcome?
That’s correct. Essentially sportsmen are incredibly competitive, goal driven creatures who make huge sacrifices to make it to the top. Add to that their ability to work in a team environment and their leadership capabilities and you potentially have a huge asset that could fit into any organisation. Sure, any person transitioning from one work realm to another needs guidance and education, that’s a given, but what is certain is that given the right tools, athletes will give it their all, persevere and ultimately get to where they want to. What they might lack in technical know-how they will more than make up for in social skills and drive. What organisations often get wrong is that they treat retired athletes as PR opportunities rather than potential long term assets. Players and ex sportsmen often have a feeling of being lost when they start a new career pathway. Often work outside of sport doesn’t have a linear feel to it, it is not as structured, with set of objectives to attain en-route to an ultimate objective. This is what we as athletes all live for. A sense of achievement is derived from each target attained. If this is not achieved, we work even harder next time, because the ultimate prize is often unreachable without these steps. Sportspeople are able to quantify and qualify their performance on a weekly, daily and almost hourly basis. Very seldom is that possible elsewhere, which I find difficult to understand. An opportunity maybe?
Frequently companies who go on to employ ex-sportspeople treat them as an outsider, who may not really be actually interested in what they do, and so a disconnect arises, the ex-sportsperson then feels that they cannot contribute, feels less worthwhile, undervalued and ultimately becomes disillusioned and walks away. The irony is that there are many organisations out there that really could benefit from using a more rigid sports style framework for their employees, certainly in terms of setting targets, ongoing training and coaching. One of my aims is to bring these cultures together so that companies can benefit from elite sport and sporting individuals, and on the flip side, those retirees from sport can also flourish outside their chosen field and go onto great careers after sport.
Thank you Simon – look forward to seeing you in Cannes.
For more information regarding the Morpheus Design House please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Masterpiece’s star is rising. The event is fast becoming the most imaginative and glamorous art antiques fair in the world…” (The Financial Times, Susan Moore). This year Morpheus have collaborated with Jetfly, the European leader in luxury aircraft, to proudly partner with Masterpiece. This highly anticipated leading international event hosts the very best in fine […]
Salone del Mobile is always an exciting event in any interior designer’s calendar, and this year two of the Morpheus team made the trip to Milan. There were a number of trends and exhibitions that particularly interested our designers, from state-of-the-art technology through to creative art. Whilst the official Pantone colour of 2017 is green, […]
In times of fast living and mass consumption a new trend has been emerging in recent years; a desire for uniqueness, authenticity, reliability and craftsmanship. British brands are renowned for their manufacturing, excellent quality, innovation and durability, therefore it shall come as no surprise that international consumers will pay premium prices for British products and […]
When it comes to elevating an interior design scheme from great to exceptional, the magic lies within the detail and the layering of exquisite materials. These edifying details can be found in many different elements of a design, from a perfectly cast metal arm set into a rich silk velvet upholstered chair, or a specialist […]
“When I am shooting architectural and interior spaces I look to break all my images down into the basic components of geometry and light, which are the framework on which the colour and design details hang”
Neil Jacobs is the chief executive officer at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas. With over three decades in the hospitality industry Neil is passionate about wellness, sustainability, inventive design, food and experiential travel. Six Senses Residences latest offering is in Courchevel 1850, with the interior furnishings designed by Morpheus.
The team at Morpheus prides itself on producing exceptional bespoke designs for our clients, with many external factors often incorporated in order to achieve this. The local environment often provides a significant influence on the design process, in order to achieve a synergy between what one sees on either side of the window.
In search of decorative inspiration and ideas this Christmas?
When it comes to Christmas trees, natural fir trees always look so much more inviting than their faux counterparts and of course provide that beautiful rich scent which is so evocative of the festive season.
Rule one of buying art is to buy what you love. The piece should resonate with you, have meaning, bring you joy and enrich your life. Much like architecture and interiors, choosing art is deeply personal and a piece that will make one person’s heart skip a beat will leave another completely indifferent.
In this edition of Dispatches we take a look at Monaco to coincide both with the Monaco Yacht Show and the unveiling of THIRTY NINE • Monte Carlo, Monaco’s first private members lifestyle club. Morpheus were commissioned for the design and brand architecture of this trail blazing project.
Morpheus has long recognised the quality of branding and the importance of typography in our designs and presentations. The ways in which typography can communicate the style, tone and voice of a brand makes it a large part of the design process when creating a new branding strategy for a project.
What has your first year with Morpheus London been like? It has been an interesting year! Having known Morpheus first from an external perspective, the company has an unsurpassed name in the industry which is something that really excited me when I was first approached about coming to head the design team. The last year has certainly lived up to those expectations!
Food is one of life’s great indicators. Reflecting social change it can be decadent in times of prosperity and austere in times of downturn. From the nouvelle cuisine of the 1980’s to the de-constructive trends of the early 2000’s, fine dining has an ability to adapt quickly to changing demands, adopting trends in other design industries.
All living organisms despite their spectacular, wondrous and sometimes bizarre diversity have at least one thing in common, the need of food to survive. The way this fuel is consumed varies significantly too. We need to eat and to that end devote a large amount of time and effort toward food preparation, far more than is needed for merely utilitarian nutritional purposes as food can be a great source of pleasure. It can engage our senses, minds and emotions just as much as carefully crafted architectural design and can take us from simply surviving to positively thriving.
I remember someone once shared the following notion with me: Architects do the pretty stuff, Engineers do the ugly details. For a person educated and qualified as both it struck a chord with me, and begs the question – what exactly is the relationship between the two disciplines? Are function and aesthetics compatible now more than they have ever been?
The highly regarded Furniture Fair, Salone Internazionale Del Mobile was hosted in Milan this month. The 6-day event, showcased the latest in furniture, lighting and home furnishing from designers across the globe. The Morpheus team were in attendance, keen to explore the latest trends and to discover a city rich in design history and creative prominence. We explored the Eurolace/design and modern halls during our visit to the Fieramilano.
‘‘Space has always been the spiritual dimension of architecture. It is not the physical statement of the structure so much as what it contains that moves us.’’ (Arthur Erickson) As designers we challenge, create and enhance the living environment. We can influence one’s lifestyle through the physical and psychological implementation of a design but it is not until the interface between space and the inhabitant/user begins that the design truly lives.
Alexander Lee McQueen BOOM A genius that mesmerised our world and then left it, leaving us with an open mouth, still fascinated, still excited. “Alexander McQueen was the rebel king of the British fashion. A designer who reinvented the catwalk and created clothes that silenced his audience. Brilliant, offensive, beautiful, outrageous.
The words ‘Sports Yacht’ traditionally evoke a fast and slender, white yacht gliding through the Mediterranean’s warm seas. Renowned yacht builder, Palmer Johnson, has turned this conventional notion on its head by designing the next generation of sport yachts transformed in its operational performance and design.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the international trade show Maison et Objet in Paris – one of the world’s largest interiors and homeware events. Featuring the hottest designs in furniture, fabrics, lighting, materials and accessories, Morpheus was on the lookout for innovative products, lavish finishes and an insight into the latest trends.
The Morpheus Design Team were tasked with creating a bespoke dining table for a recent residential project in London. This brief was a fantastic opportunity to work with a number of exceptional artisans and craftsmen in order to incorporate a combination of fine materials and innovative techniques.
With an increasing involvement in this prime European region and the surrounding areas and a number of interesting active projects, Morpheus took the opportunity to sponsor the Top Marques Automotive Show in association with Edmond de Rothschild held annually in Monte Carlo.
Seemingly the entire international design industry flocked to Milan in early April 2014 for Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the world’s largest and arguably the most important annual design fair, and the Morpheus London Design Team were thrilled to attend and bear witness.