As FOYER’s Ishika Paruthi sat down for an engaging conversation with the esteemed Cormac Lynch, an interior architect, designer, and advisor, the anticipation for an enlightening discussion was palpable. Lynch’s remarkable journey in the design industry has been characterized by his unwavering commitment to excellence and his ability to transform spaces into breathtaking works of art.
Known for his distinctive style and meticulous attention to detail, Cormac Lynch has carved a niche for himself as a designer who seamlessly blends functionality with aesthetics. With a deep understanding of architectural principles and an innate sense of creativity, Lynch’s projects have consistently pushed the boundaries of conventional design. Beyond his impressive portfolio, Lynch has also established himself as an influential advisor, guiding clients towards making informed design choices and creating spaces that reflect their unique identities. His expertise and insights have earned him a reputation as a trusted confidant in the industry.
During the conversation with Paruthi, our guest undoubtedly shared tales of his design journey, filled with moments of inspiration, challenges overcome, and the constant pursuit of innovation.
Ishika Paruthi (IP): Could you please walk me through your design process, from start to finish, when approaching a new project?
Cormac Lynch (CL): Absolutely. When I begin a new project, the first step is to understand the client’s requirements. This could be for a residential, hotel, or office project. For example, if it’s a hotel, I discuss with the client whether it should be a city hotel or a resort and the desired style. Nowadays, people often want a unique experience when they travel, so I aim to create a sense of place in my designs. If it’s a resort in India, I ensure that it reflects Indian culture, whether it’s modern, classical, or a blend of styles.
To start, I work closely with the clients and present them with mood boards depicting different design styles. This helps us establish a shared vision and direction for the project. I curate a collection of images showcasing previous projects or designs from other professionals that align with the desired style, whether it’s contemporary, traditional, or transitional. I also consider the geographical location and incorporate local elements into the design.
IP: That sounds like a thoughtful approach. Speaking of hotels, besides the Taj Falaknama Palace, are there any other Indian hotels that you admire from a design perspective?
CL: It’s quite challenging to pick just a few, as there are numerous beautifully designed hotels in India. However, there are a couple that come to mind. The first one is The Oberoi in Udaipur. It exudes a sense of traditional Indian charm while also offering a modern ambience. The atmosphere is vibrant, with fantastic restaurants and a stunning pool. Another notable hotel is The Imperial in Delhi. It has a wonderful Art Deco style that sets it apart, and it has been executed exceptionally well.
IP: It’s interesting to hear your perspective on different hotels. Let’s shift the focus to your own space. How was the experience of designing your own home different from designing spaces for clients?
CL: Designing my own home was a unique experience because I have the freedom to explore various styles. I don’t have a specific signature style, so I adapt my designs to suit different clients and contexts. My current apartment, for instance, is located in a historic building built in 1901. The architecture and proportions of the space influenced my design choices. With tall ceilings and classical details, I felt it was best to create a semi-traditional interior.
Inspired by Nancy Lancaster’s yellow drawing room in Mayfair, London, I aimed to create an Indian version of that style. I incorporated elements like wicker furniture made from rattan, trays converted into coffee tables, and chairs designed by Polish designer Stefan Norblin. The fabrics used are Indian damasks with a touch of Western influence, and the lamps are repurposed old tea caddies with chinoiserie details. I also mixed European and English-style furniture with Indian elements to achieve a unique blend. The dining room is adorned in a vibrant shade of red, while the bedroom features a refreshing green colour.
IP: It sounds like a beautifully curated space with a mix of styles. I would like to know how India’s rich heritage and vibrant culture influenced your design approach and style mix.
CL: Undoubtedly, India’s diverse heritage and vibrant culture have had a profound impact on my design approach. This remarkable country boasts a plethora of art forms, architectural styles, and traditional craftsmanship that continue to inspire me. From the intricate embroidery and craftsmanship to the splendid marble work and architectural marvels, India offers a treasure trove of design elements that can be seamlessly integrated into contemporary spaces. Moreover, the openness and enthusiasm of the people towards blending the old with the new create endless possibilities for creating unique and captivating interiors.
IP Have your travels within India provided you with inspiration for your projects?
CL: Absolutely! Each region in India possesses its own distinctive beauty and architectural heritage, which never fails to ignite my creative spark. Whether it’s exploring the stunning architecture in Hyderabad, reminiscent of the Mughal era, or immersing myself in the Victorian and art deco charm of Mumbai, every place in India offers a plethora of design inspiration. I have also found solace in the serene backwaters of Kochi, where the blend of Portuguese and Indian influences creates a truly one-of-a-kind ambience. These enriching experiences shape my design concepts and enable me to infuse a sense of place and story into my projects.
IP: What emerging trends or innovations in interior design do you find exciting or promising for the future?
CL: The current era of interior design is marked by a strong desire for uniqueness and experiential spaces. People today seek designs that transcend the ordinary and offer a personal touch. The trend leans towards individually crafted pieces, bespoke creations, and objects with captivating stories to tell. The focus is on creating interiors that reflect the personality and experiences of the individuals inhabiting the space. This shift towards authenticity, warmth, and storytelling is transforming the way we approach design, enabling us to curate truly extraordinary spaces.
I find it incredibly exciting to work in this field. As an interior architect and designer, I love exploring the possibilities within a space. Whether it’s a new build project where I can collaborate with architects to optimize natural light and views, or an existing heritage building where I can transform the interior, every project brings its unique challenges and rewards.
IP: It’s fascinating how you can breathe life into spaces through careful selection and arrangement of elements. It’s not always about starting from scratch or tearing everything down, but rather working with what you have and bringing out its hidden potential. And the best part is, it doesn’t have to break the bank.
CL: Absolutely! Interior design doesn’t have to be extravagant to be mesmerizing. By being inventive and resourceful, you can create stunning spaces even with limited budgets. It’s about making wise choices and blending different elements harmoniously. You’d be surprised by what you can achieve with a blank space and a creative mind.
IP: Oh, that is true. Now, let’s talk about some of your memorable projects. Is there a specific one that holds great significance to you?
CL: Oh, that’s a tough question. Over the years, I’ve worked on numerous interesting projects, each with its charm. It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve had the pleasure of designing the Ritz Carlton Residences in Marrakech, where the sense of place was paramount. But I’ve also cherished the experience of working on private houses, where I could build long-lasting relationships with clients and continuously evolve their spaces.
IP: I can imagine how every project brings its own set of joys and challenges. Your passion for design truly shines through. Now, let’s shift gears a bit. When you started your career in design, who were some of your inspirations? Have they remained the same, or have you discovered new contemporaries along the way?
CL: My early inspiration came from the renowned architect Le Corbusier. I wrote my thesis on him during my university years and was captivated by his influence on modernism and brutalism. His use of shuttered concrete and vibrant colours resonated with me. Even today, I’m still inspired by his work. Over time, I’ve admired the interiors created by designers like Mark Hampton, David Hicks, and Elsie de Wolfe, each offering unique styles and approaches. I’ve also found inspiration in contemporary architects such as Rem Koolhaas from OMA and designers like Andrée Putman.
IP: It’s fascinating to see how diverse influences shape your design philosophy. What would be your advice for aspiring designers or homeowners looking to enhance their spaces as well as their design philosophy?
CL: My advice would be to embrace creativity and be open to unconventional ideas. Don’t feel constrained by budget limitations. Mix and match different elements, and repurpose.
IP: You mentioned earlier that books hold a special place in your heart. Can you elaborate on that?
CL: Sure, books are like friends to me. I find great joy in having physical books and magazines around me. Just browsing through them and looking at their content is a wonderful experience. I have a Kindle on my bookshelf that I’ve never used because I prefer the company of physical books.
IP: It’s fascinating how books can be so cherished. Are there any particular books that you’ve been drawn to recently?
CL: One book that caught my attention is “In Color” by David Hicks, published by Cabana. It’s a new release, and I’m eager to get my hands on it. I already have several of his older books, but many of them were in black and white. The photographs were taken in the ’60s and ’70s, so it’s exciting to finally see his work in colour.
IP: That sounds like an interesting addition to your collection. Speaking of books, are there any design principles or standards that you often refer back to?
CL: As a designer, one book I frequently revisit is a design handbook focusing on principles and standards. Although I can’t recall the exact title at the moment, it covers various aspects of design, including anthropometrics and minimum size requirements. It provides valuable guidance, even for someone with years of experience like myself.
IP: It’s great to hear that you continue to seek inspiration and guidance from reliable sources. Moving on, could you share a prized possession that holds significant value for you as a designer?
CL: One item that I love and consider a prized possession is a Coromandel cabinet that I acquired many years ago. It originated from London and currently resides in my parents’ house in Dublin. I designed their house, and this cabinet stands out with its black lacquer finish and intricate Chinese figures. It’s a unique piece with a fascinating history, and it holds sentimental value for me.
IP: It’s wonderful when an object carries both aesthetic and personal significance. Lastly, among the places you’ve travelled to in India, why did you choose to settle in Mumbai instead of other cities like Delhi or Jaipur?
CL: Mumbai has a vibrant energy that captivated me. The city embraces a diverse mix of people from various backgrounds, creating a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Delhi and Jaipur also have their charms, but Mumbai stands out for its constant buzz and the warmth of its residents. It reminds me of New York, where I used to live and where people from all over India and the world come together. Additionally, Mumbai’s proximity to the sea and its architectural beauty, such as the Gothic style, added to its allure.
IP: Mumbai’s energy and unique blend of cultures seem to have made a lasting impression on you. We appreciate you sharing your experiences and insights with us today. Thank you for joining us.
CL: It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
This enlightening conversation with Cormac Lynch has shed light on the profound influence of India’s rich heritage and cultural diversity on his design philosophy. We have witnessed how his journeys through different regions of India have shaped his creative vision, allowing him to create remarkable interiors that seamlessly blend tradition with modernity. Furthermore, his insights into emerging trends highlight the growing demand for uniqueness, authenticity, and experiential spaces in the world of interior design. As we eagerly anticipate the future, we can expect this visionary designer to continue pushing boundaries and creating extraordinary spaces that captivate and inspire.