Interview: Nick Leith-Smith,
Nick Leith-Smith Architecture + Design

Nick Leith-Smith

Nick Leith-Smith is the Principal Architect and Founder of Nick Leith-Smith Architecture + Design. Born February 28th, Nick grew up in Hong Kong, before attending Glasgow school of art (the Mackintosh) and studying Architecture for 4 years. From there, Nick went on to further study with the Architectural Association, before founding his own Architecture and Design studio with Kristina Hulsebus in 2000.

Previously named Data Nature Associates, Nick became sole trader of DNA in 2009 changing the name to Nick Leith-Smith Architecture + Design, going on to complete architecture and interior design projects in Hong Kong, Dubai, Russia, Dublin and UK. The studio’s portfolio includes luxury retail design and high-end residential work for clients such as Harrod’s Monolo Blahnik boutique, Spun Covent Garden and Grosvenor.

Design Excellence is creating a sensory experience where every detail plays a significant role in the overall narrative.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself Nick?

I am a multi disciplined architect and my designs reflect my passion for contemporary art, fashion and materials. I grew up between UK and Hong Kong, and now spend time between London, Ibiza and Sau Paulo. As mentioned I studied Architecture at the Macintosh and AA and worked at OMA (Rem Koolhaas). I have had my own architecture and design studio since 2000 and in 2009 it became Nick Leith-Smith Architecture + Design.

How do you think great food and great interior design are linked?

For me food and interiors are both about creating memorable, unique experiences.

Which area(s) of the world do you see as the best for emerging hospitality design?

In my experience, London, New York, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo.

What was the first food and beverage space you designed?

The first F&B place I have fully designed and built is Le Peep Boutique, Park Lane, 2014.


What has been your most challenging project to date and why?

Every project has its challenges and I use these parameters as productive tools in the creative process.

What design challenges are unique to hospitality / food and beverage space design?

More than any other sector, F&B is about creating a sensory experience where every detail plays a significant role in the overall narrative.

Who gave you your start in the industry and what did you learn most from that experience?

I worked at OMA with Rem Koolhaas, one of their ten partners, before setting up my own studio. Mark Alexiou (Managing Partner at Le Peep Boutique) started me off in Hospitality.

OMA are renowned for their ‘intelligent master planning and innovative possibilities for buildings and content’

How would you describe your own design style?

As a design studio, I would say we are experiential and lifestyle curators. The style comes from this process.

Where does your inspiration come from?

There are a number of things we draw inspiration from, but the project itself is always the biggest inspiration for me. Inspiration comes from: the site, brand, brief, client team, consultant team.

Tell us about your recent project, Le Peep Boutique, a members club, restaurant and cocktail bar:

Le Peep Boutique, London

How were you inspired to create it?

Inspiration came from the bohemian lifestyle of 1920s Paris including: Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, The fair ground peep shows, paper theatre and shadow puppets, and the pleasure gardens of the day.

What challenges were uniquely overcome in this project?

The biggest challenge was the client’s brief. This called for a transformative space evolving as the evening progresses – cocktail bar, restaurant, live music venue to a fully operational nightclub. The atmosphere is conducted at the press of a button, controlling: light, sound, colour and texture.

Tell us about the unique LCD ceiling in this space?

12 LCD screens were designed to have a skylight effect within the main room – depicting upward views of the streets of Paris.

Each room of the club has a different character as a sub venue in the club: Salon Rouge, Secret garden and Boudoir. These are defined by colour and texture and the upholstery design [bold coloured leather] is an ingredient in this.

Nick Leith-Smith, Principal

Le Peep Boutique, London

Can you briefly describe the journey you created for visitors?

The journey we’ve created can be described by the following: Reveal, conceal, Illusion, spectate, perform, surprise. Understanding movement and sequencing has been key in the design process.

In your eyes, who were (or are) the ‘kings and queens’ of hospitality design?

The late David Collins, Tom Dixon, and Isle Crawford.

What would be the biggest benefit to you in winning an award from the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards?

The Restaurant & Bar Design Awards represent an acknowledgement from this exciting sector.

Le Peep Boutique is an entry into this year’s Awards.

Restaurant & Bar Design Talks: ‘Evolving Atmospheres’ hosted by Le Peep Boutique. Nick Leith-Smith (Architect) and Mark Alexiou (Founder, Le Peep Boutique) show how atmospheres can be changed through light, colour, sound and texture to create a transformative space. These talks are strictly RSVP only, for more information contact Marco Rebora.

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