London-based designer Tala Fustok has brought her singular vision to interiors from the Mandrake Hotel in London to Bleecker Street in New York and Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. She talks to Effect about her design philosophy, process and influences.
In just over six years, Tala Fustok has emerged as a highly original voice in interior design, channelling a cosmopolitan upbringing and well-travelled eye to create spaces with that rare thing – a recognisable signature.
A childhood spent meandering around Parisian flea markets and galleries – where she was “mesmerised by all the vintage pieces” – has given Fustok a collector’s touch, manifesting itself in the locally-sourced art objects that elevate her projects, from the ceramics in Palace Gate to the Maison Rapin octopus stool in Avenue Foch. And while Fustok has a knack for creating apartments with a sense of calm and intimacy, a background at London’s Architectural Association has given her the ability to scale up, with hotels, private members clubs and commercial spaces all within the growing portfolio of the Tala Fustok Studio. All these projects are different, yet all are infused with her personality alongside a highly Instagrammable vibrancy. From the immersive glamour of the award-winning Mandrake Hotel to the sophisticated oasis of her New York Bleecker Street project, each fuses a daring sensibility with a timeless aesthetic.
Effect Magazine caught up with the Notting Hill-based designer to find out how she approaches her practice, and to see what’s next for this exciting talent.
Your projects are all different, but they all have a sense of drama, with extensive use of colour and a blending of vintage and contemporary design and art. Are these your signatures?
Something I truly believe in is honouring each of our clients’ individual personalities. No one person is the same so why should their home be? This is a fundamental philosophy at Tala Fustok Studio, and the reason why all our projects are different. The Mandrake Hotel – with its surrealist darker image, exposed brick walls and rough concrete juxtaposed with opulent velvet seating – is the polar opposite of our Palace Gate project, which exudes calmness and an air of savviness, with layers of texture and light-flooded rooms. And fusing vintage and contemporary design so that they effortlessly meld together is a technique I adore – partly because it can be executed in so many ways to suit the individual space’s architecture and surroundings.
What is your starting point for each project?
At the start of each project, I take the time to sit down with our client and listen to them – not just to their brief and what they’re looking for, but also to get to know their personality and assess how to reflect this in the project. For example, with my latest London project, the apartment is inspired by the owner’s European and Moroccan travels: earthy coatings of fabric and stony textures create a harmonic tension against soft colours we’ve introduced to reflect a sunset. The owner leads a very hectic lifestyle, so we wanted her home to be a tranquil sanctuary to come back to, bringing her balance.
How do you go about curating and blending vintage and contemporary design and art?
It’s a technique developed over a long period of time, honing your eye; but I still like to experiment until I’ve reached the perfect equilibrium for a space. With Bleecker Street, we worked closely with Crina Architecture to transform this industrial West Village space into a dynamic residence, and we certainly had fun doing so. We softened the loft apartment’s hard industrial edge, introducing a calmness which I feel is important in any New York or London home. As for specific pieces, I wanted to make the most of local artisan skills – especially given the apartment’s location and its abundance of creativity – to make bespoke items oozing with luxury and impact within the urban space.
I always love a dusting of gold – nothing better to add a sprinkling of 70s glamour.Tala Fustok, interior designer
With Palace Gate, it was a case of carefully sourcing the right pieces. From the PINCH fabric pendant and the sculptural items by M.A.H Gallery, to the stunning vase focal piece from Flow Gallery and mirror from the Antique Mirror Company – each item brings something special to the space and contributes to the overall effect we wanted to create.
Avenue Foch has a show-stopping gold ceiling. Are you always on the look-out for moments of excitement and drama?
Very much so. Bringing the unexpected and a dose of drama to a project is a key element of my philosophy. It just makes it more exciting, doesn’t it! I love incorporating elements of surprise – such as hidden minibars and secret passages – and this dining area certainly adds a pop of energy and a sense of theatre to this playful Parisian apartment, yet compliments the wider aesthetic through the neutral walls. And I always love a dusting of gold – nothing better to add a sprinkling of 70s glamour.
Have you noticed certain trends or themes emerging or changing within design over the past five years?
Absolutely. As with fashion, interior design trends have continued to evolve over the last several years. Designers and consumers have been looking back in time for design influence, ensuing in retro living spaces. Elsewhere, Scandinavian design aesthetics have continued to be largely popular, with consumers’ heightened focus on wellness, seeking clean, crisp living spaces which feel warm and comfortable to come home to. And the fusion of aesthetics has also had a moment, elevating one particular style by merging with another. This trend will continue, as it is in the fashion world. Take, for example, Scandi-chic, which will increasingly be paired with Japanese or bohemian design. Lastly, of course, designers’ eco focus has continued to soar, as it should, projecting into 2023. The likes of rattan, bamboo and linen will be at the core of many upcoming designs, I’d imagine.
Looking forward, I’m intrigued to see how magenta comes into play within the overall design landscape, and I think we’ll also see the maintenance of the green powerhouse hue. I definitely see oversized lighting having another moment this year. Through our work at Tala Fustok Studio, we’ll demonstrate how to not let this overwhelm a room, but add grandeur and act as a focal point – even smartly disguising a smaller space.
I must say though, even when trends are there which owners are drawn to, we try to stay away from them and encourage clients to stay true to themselves so that our resulting design is more personal and therefore timeless.
What’s next for Tala Fustok Studio?
Upcoming projects include a Cambridge warehouse, a London penthouse conversion and a stunning residential project in Maida Vale, due to be completed in late 2023. Plus, a couple of commercial projects are in the works, of which you’ll most certainly recognise the name… watch this space!
Read more: Interior Designers I Interiors | Design | Vintage | Design Hotels | London | Paris | Tala Fustok