From Avant-Garde Roots to Contemporary Brilliance: Dmitry Velikovsky’s Architectural Journey and Design Ethos

In the world of interior design, where aesthetics and functionality must harmoniously coexist, few names resonate as strongly as Dmitry Velikovsky. With a career spanning over three decades, Velikovsky has established himself as a visionary, blending exquisite style with everyday comfort. His journey from the historic streets of Moscow to the cutting-edge architectural hubs of the world shows us his versatility and commitment to excellence.

Velikovsky’s portfolio is a dazzling array of luxury penthouses, boutique hotels, and high-end residential projects, each bearing his distinctive mark of timeless elegance and innovative functionality. His designs are not merely about creating visually stunning spaces but about crafting environments that tell stories and resonate with the cultural and historical contexts of their locations.  In this in-depth interview, Velikovsky shares his insights on maintaining a balance between luxury and comfort, his approach to eclectic design, and the significant influence of his grandfather’s architectural philosophy. He also delves into the evolving role of architects and interior designers in shaping cultural narratives and societal values. This conversation offers a rare glimpse into the mind of a designer whose work continues to inspire and innovate in the ever-evolving field of interior design.


With a career spanning over three decades, Velikovsky has established himself as a visionary, blending exquisite style with everyday comfort


Foyer (F): Your studio emphasises the fusion of exquisite style with day-to-day comfort in its interior design. How do you strike this balance, particularly when working on projects with diverse skills and purposes, from luxury penthouses to boutique hotels?

Dmitry Velikovsky (DV): I would say that, as we have been in the business for around 25 years, we’ve worked with a very diverse clientele and have gained considerable experience dealing with clients from different cultures, let’s say, from different worlds. So, I mean, it’s very easy for us to adjust to different cultural contexts, different situations, and different clients. It’s a very easy thing for us. We don’t have to think about how to keep the proper balance.


F: Can you talk about how you maintained this balance when you just started and were working on different projects simultaneously?

DV: Basically, my first office was in Russia, in Moscow, as at that point I used to live there. To gain the proper experience, we started working with UK-based designers, British designers, and one of the greatest contacts I had was Stephen Ryan, who was the right hand of David Hicks at the time. He was, I guess, the managing director of David Hicks at a certain point. He was an extremely experienced and knowledgeable person. At the time, we did quite several projects in Russia, and that’s how we got our first glimpse of what high-end design is. We gained a better understanding of this profession, by working with English and American architects. For us, it was the best shortcut to the great volume of experience available in the UK and America. That’s how we started.


His journey from the historic streets of Moscow to the cutting-edge architectural hubs of the world shows us his versatility and commitment to excellence


F: In your extensive career spanning over two decades, what are some of the key lessons you’ve learned about creating timeless designs that reflect your character and individuality?

DV: I would say that it’s a kind of minimalist principle. No matter whether we deal with traditional design, traditional concepts, or modern design, it’s about minimising all the qualities, using less material and less effort to achieve a result that would last for decades. Some of the interiors that we did almost 30 years ago, in ’98 or ’99, when we started, are still presented on our website. You can never tell whether they were done today or 25 years ago. This type of concept was embedded in my mind. It was an initial concept that we should use limited resources to achieve a lasting result.


F: Wonderful. That’s a very interesting point. I would say it’s something designers can follow, rather than just following trends on Pinterest.

DV: Yes, at that time, there was no Instagram. To assess everything in your mind, you had less access to all kinds of different projects being done in the world. So, it was a more comprehensive approach at the moment. Fashion spreads like wildfire now; for example, Kelly Wearstler does something, and everybody likes it, you’ll see it all over the world in a matter of weeks or months. It was not the case before. Our initial approach was quite different from just adopting the trends that are persistent in the world. Nowadays, I can see how quickly things change. For example, I’m not in Russia anymore and haven’t been for many years, but I follow some of the designers, and I can see changes happening in a matter of half a year. Before, they were traditional; today, they have a Paris chic style. So, things happen thanks to Instagram. I think that just shows us that social media is a boon and a bane at the same time. It just depends on how you use it for your purpose.


Dmitry Velikovsky’s portfolio is a dazzling array of luxury penthouses, boutique hotels, and high-end residential projects, each bearing his distinctive mark of timeless elegance and innovative functionality


F: Yeah, exactly. Moving on. The concept of eclecticism pervades your work, blending various design elements to create cohesive yet diverse spaces. Can you delve deeper into how you approach this eclectic vision, especially in reconciling seemingly disparate styles to create harmonious interiors while adding your personal touch?

DV: I would say that the most important thing, no matter whether it’s a designer’s approach or a private client who wants to add something to the interior, is a question of good taste and personal attachment to certain things. For example, when travelling around the world, and I travel and used to travel a lot during the past decades, when you see something, whether it’s in Kathmandu, Delhi, or the south of France, you just buy it if you feel a strong personal attachment to it. Whether it’s a piece of art, a sculpture, or a piece of furniture, you just buy it. That’s what I did. I always had a warehouse, and we still have warehouses in different countries where we keep the objects that my designers liked, and we just put them in the project when an occasion turns up when we feel it’s appropriate.

For example, we are finalising a big residential project in La Gavina, Catalonia, a beachfront property. I had an ancient Roman mosaic, a big one, like two by two metres, and some antique pieces that I bought maybe 20 years ago. We found the perfect opportunity for them in this big traditional house we built in this area. So that’s how you have to do it. You might spend a long time sitting on some items you love, and afterwards, you just feel that’s where they should go. The project we are finishing now is a mix of antiques from old periods and a very contemporary style with a traditional core. The architecture is rather traditional, as it was not allowed to build a new development in this area. So, the whole area is rather classical and traditional. But the interior is very contemporary with a historical twist.


His designs are not merely about creating visually stunning spaces but about crafting environments that tell stories and resonate with the cultural and historical contexts of their locations


F: Got it. Just to follow up on that, you’ve been doing projects across the globe for quite some time since your firm has been established for almost 30 years. In the pre-Instagram era, as we were discussing, how did your travels inspire the work you were doing? What was the thought process like when you picked up inspiration from different parts of the world and brought that into your projects?

DV: When you travel, sometimes you fall in love with certain things, styles, and contexts, and afterwards, you try to incorporate them into the designs you do, provided the context is suitable. For example, we were in Morocco a couple of weeks ago, and I saw many nice things and very artful craftsmanship. Now, just three weeks later, we are already using them in some of our projects, commissioning different things like rugs, furniture, and art, because I just love them. It’s a very fresh experience, and you are interested in using them in the projects. So you freshen things up by adding something you have first-hand, recent experience with.


F: Dmitry, your studio’s approach to interior design involves close collaboration between architects, designers, and clients to create a unified mission. How do you navigate this collaborative process and ensure that the final design reflects what you’ve envisioned for the space while also accommodating the preferences of the customer or client?

DV: I would say that it’s pretty easy because, by training, I’m an architect. I started with doing architectural projects, mostly luxury residential, and then moved into interior design. So basically, everything is already in one head. From the start, we had both architects and interior designers in the company working closely with each other. It’s an understanding that you slowly develop along the way when both disciplines go together. The architects and designers in the company just feel their direction and facilitate this direction in each project. That’s how it works.


Learning from industry greats like Stephen Ryan, Velikovsky quickly understood what high-end design truly means, gaining a rich understanding through hands-on experience with English and American architects


F: Since customisation and attention to detail are hallmarks of your studio’s projects, can you share some examples of how you incorporate bespoke furniture and accessories crafted by artisans from across the world to elevate the overall design and enhance the client’s experience of working with you?

DV: We mostly use bespoke furniture. We don’t buy from big brands. In the world of sophisticated, upmarket design, it’s done differently. We use artisan companies, either in France, quite a lot in Italy, Belgium, and all over the world. We work with these companies on different projects. Philippines, Indonesia, and some in China – we do all the marble work in China. There are companies in Morocco for rugs and ceramics, and some in India for rugs and hardware. We work with maybe 300-400 different companies around the globe that are artisans producing bespoke furniture, lighting, fabrics, etc. Even in fabrics, we don’t often work with big brands as they can be rather expensive. We work with different mills that produce fabrics and sometimes custom-produce fabrics. This adds a lot of quality to the projects we do, and we try not to be repetitive in terms of style or furniture used. Knowing the craftsmen and these small companies for their attention to detail, quality, and uniqueness allows us to create very nice designs.


Throughout his extensive career, Dmitry Velikovsky has adhered to a minimalist principle: achieving lasting results with limited resources


F: Understood. That makes a lot of sense. In your opinion, what role does technology play in modern interior design, particularly in terms of integrating AV, security, and heating and cooling systems seamlessly into the overall design while enhancing the comfort and functionality of the space?

DV: Technology underlies each project. We have a full understanding of the standards we need to follow and what’s going on in the market. We have engineers working in our company. It is an integral part of each project, and we always intend to use this technology in a way that it is not obvious. The project has all these high-level specifications, but it’s not a kind of show-off where the smart home system is displayed everywhere. We try to implement it tactfully so it is there, but not too visible.


F: Next, if I’m not wrong, your grandfather, Boris Velikovsky, was a renowned architect whose legacy has influenced your work a lot. How has his architectural philosophy and innovative approach to urban planning informed your design principles in your practice?

DV: Yes, he was one of the famous constructivists and avant-garde architects in Russia in the twenties and thirties. I wouldn’t say that he has strongly affected me, but my choice of profession was influenced by his presence in our family. I studied him quite a lot, especially when I had an office in Russia, and we did several high-end residential projects and apartment blocks in the centre of Moscow. There was one project in the centre of Moscow, done in a traditional neoclassical style, where he had built several buildings. I studied his style and his attitude when designing this house. So, yes, I had a good experience of really delving into his projects and going through archive drawings to study his style. It’s funny that exactly 100 years after he built his project, I did one more or less in the same style in the centre of Moscow. Quite interesting, but with a very modern twist to it.


Traveling the world, he collects unique pieces that resonate with him personally, later integrating them into projects in ways that enhance both the historical and contemporary aspects of the spaces


F: You mentioned that you did something similar a century down the line. Were there some ideologies of his in terms of how he designed that have stayed with you?

DV: He was very experienced in both styles. In the classical architecture style, he started in 1905 when he graduated from university, during a period of neoclassical architecture in Russia. He was extremely knowledgeable in this field and designed maybe a hundred different projects in this style. But after the revolution, he moved quickly and dramatically into the new avant-garde field of architecture. He was one of the first to produce major projects in different cities, in Moscow and St. Petersburg, in constructivist architecture. By the end of the 1920s, he started to combine both styles. This post-constructivist architecture in the early thirties blended both constructivist and classical styles. It was really interesting to see how he could combine both in one project, creating a more complex and sophisticated approach. For me, it’s extremely interesting because it shows there are no boundaries between different styles. When you reach a certain point, you feel you can manage architectural and interior design tasks that blend different things. That was a lesson I got from my grandfather.


In the pre-Instagram era, Dmitry Velikovsky’s travels were a significant source of inspiration. Whether it was the craftsmanship of Morocco or the traditional styles of France, he would bring back elements that added fresh perspectives to his projects


F: As an internationally recognised designer, how do you see the role of architecture and interior design evolving in shaping not just physical spaces, but also cultural narratives and societal values?

DV: I would say the role of architects and designers, especially architects, is extremely strong in the modern world. For example, we have some projects in Dubai, and I visit there pretty often. The city is growing rapidly, but there is no cultural narrative. You don’t feel the history or cultural identity of the Middle East. It’s a strange place unaffected by culture and history. This reflects the role of the architect being minimised to functional master planning without considering the future of the city or creating a vibrant cultural place. In the contemporary world, the architect’s role is often limited to a functional service, unlike in the past when architects represented a wider cultural context and created cities that still provide cultural experiences. Nowadays, there’s no connection to the cultural sense in their work, which is chaotic and lacks respect for the past. Architects should understand that their role can be very creative or very destructive in shaping the modern world.


Close collaboration is at the heart of Dmitry Velikovsky’s design process. By bringing together architects, designers, and clients, he ensures that every project reflects a unified vision


F: Just to follow up, since we’re talking about how someone should perceive their role and how it is perceived, what would be one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting in the field who wants to become a prominent architect that creates culturally relevant spaces?

DV: It is extremely important to think about the context and history of the place and to be relevant to the context and history.


design industry, what are some defining moments or projects that have shaped your perspective and approach to design over the years?

DV: It’s very difficult to pinpoint specific moments or projects. There are so many different projects. Looking around, there are hundreds of different projects that I enjoy and that affect me. From modernist villas like the Glass House in Perez Bar, Pierre Chareau’s work, or villas by Eileen Gray, to country mansions in the UK, there are many incredible properties. It’s a general effect of keeping all these incredible architectural pieces and interiors in mind, and then they blend into something you do. It’s a general experience of the journey that affects you, rather than particular properties or architectural pieces that influence you along the way.


Studying his grandfather’s work, especially his ability to blend classical and avant-garde styles, has taught Dmitry that there are no boundaries in design


As our conversation with Dmitry Velikovsky draws to a close, it is evident that his contributions to the world of interior design and architecture are as profound as they are diverse. Velikovsky’s philosophy of blending exquisite style with everyday comfort has redefined luxury in a way that is both accessible and aspirational. His meticulous approach to design, where every detail is thoughtfully considered and every space tells a story, has set a new standard in the industry. Through his extensive travels and collaborations with artisans and designers from around the world, Velikovsky has amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience, which he seamlessly integrates into his projects, creating spaces that are not only beautiful but also deeply personal and culturally resonant.

Dmitry Velikovsky’s interview not only sheds light on his remarkable career and design ethos but also offers valuable insights into the future of architecture and interior design. As we look ahead, it is designers like Velikovsky who will continue to lead the way, creating spaces that are not only visually stunning but also meaningful and impactful, shaping the world one carefully curated interior at a time.

More on Foyer

Shopping Cart