"It's just as hard to do a good interior
as it is to do a good building"

| 6 comments

In our third movie about this year's World Architecture Festival and Inside Festival, architect, designer and Inside Festival jury chair Nigel Coates discusses his breakthrough interiors project Caffè Bongo and explains what he will be looking for when judging the awards. 

"It's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building"
Middle and Over Wallop restaurant by Nigel Coates at Glyndebourne opera house

"I don't really see interior design as a discipline," says Coates. "I see it as a phenomenon. I call it 'atmos': when something special happens in an interior which isn't just functional or stylistic."

"It's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building"
Otaru Marittimo Hotel by Nigel Coates

He goes on to explain that, for him, a good interior "needs to communicate something extra. Not just to a visitor but to the person who lives in it, who's familiar with it. It needs to create a warmth, cause a kind of alchemy in the way you exist in it."

"It's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building"
Caffè Bongo, Tokyo

Coates says his breakthrough in interiors came in 1986 with Caffè Bongo in Tokyo. Inspired by Italian director Federico Fellini's 1960s movie La Dolce Vita, the café combined classical statues and architectural elements with parts of an aeroplane that had seemingly crashed into it.

"It's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building"

"[It] may seem completely wild," says Coates. "But I still assert that the crashed aircraft into that building was calm compared with the other nonsense that was going on up and down the street.

"It's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building"

"There was an aircraft wing at the top of the window. Charles Jencks described it as a crash. I would see it more as a fusion of the biggest object that symbolises movement and the architectural condition of the window."

"It's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building"
The Waterhouse at South Bund by Neri&Hu, winner of the 2011 Inside Festival awards

When judging the awards for this year's Inside Festival, which takes place in Singapore in October, Coates will be looking for projects that "create a sort of chemistry".

Watch our movies with all the Inside Festival awards winners from 2011 »

"It's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building"

He says: "What I want to see is the translation of an idea. If it's just based on style and nice finishes, even clever organisation, that's not enough. The idea needs to translate into some kind of sensual experience, it needs to capture you.

"Interiors can be dismissed, but if we're talking about excellence, I think it's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building."

"It's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building"
Nigel Coates

Inside Festival award entries close 10 June. See here for how to enter.

The music featured in the above movie is a track called HKPF by UK producer Sun Yin. You can listen to the full track on Dezeen music Project.

"It's just as hard to do a good interior as it is to do a good building"

www.worldarchitecturefestival.com
www.insidefestival.com

  • Klaus

    The problem in my opinion isn’t whether it’s harder to do this or that but the general belief that the interior of a building isn’t part of the building itself.

    Even designing a fork can be as hard as designing a building if you take it seriously. I believe it’s harder to do something bad or completely inadequate but somehow I’m often proven wrong.

  • Desk

    Harder to do something bad? I think not! Anything mediocre or banal is bad in my opinion. That’s often done with the lack of resolve.

  • Colonel Pancake

    Interiors are hard to design well because most efforts to design an interior are born out of a contrived effort to decorate something that doesn't need decorating.

  • wink wink

    Is it just me, or is there no lens in those glasses?

  • h2oo2 barrier

    Beautiful interior. Difficult to construct and only the experienced interior designer can make it possible. Really good job.

  • otto

    This is just trash commercial decoration. Nothing to do with Architecture. We call it “Marchetta”.