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Ten minutes with…Su Ball

Su has over 20 years of experience in hospitality design including new-build deluxe resorts, city hotels and 5-star hotel developments. Her latest project is the AU$30m refurbishment of The Langham, Sydney.

What does good design mean to you?

For me, it’s a conversation between the designer and the person experiencing it. It can work on different levels. Perhaps the design is good because it is both beautiful and practical, and someone can appreciate the skill and thought that has gone into it, or perhaps there is a sense of humour to the piece and the person looking at it understands this.

Who are your major influences in the world of design?

Over the last few years the work of David Collins and his studio have been inspiring for me. He was always exploring new design and the results were bold and witty. There was also a surprising attention to detail in his work, which meant you were constantly finding new elements to enjoy.

The most important lesson I have learnt in design is…

Persevere with the original design intent through all of the stages of design.This isn’t always easy and sometimes outside factors can mean you have to make choices that threaten to compromise this but usually with enough thought and hard work (or powers of persuasion!) then a good concept will find its way through.

How much do you incorporate sustainability into your work?

Sustainable development is deeply integrated into our design approach and is definitely more important to a lot of our clients now.

How much do you consider feng shui in your designs?

For us, an essential aspect of good design is ensuring that the spaces flow, and that shapes and materials work in harmony with each other, so whether it is conscious decision or not, feng shui ultimately influences all of our designs in some ways.

What design elements make a happy home?

Design pieces in the home have to be practical and comfortable. Lighting is a great way to make bold statements.

If I had to limit my interiors shopping to one city it would be…

London.There is an incredible selection of interior pieces there and two annual design weeks that really bring the city alive, showcasing designers’ work from the high-end, well- established international studios to the graduates who are just starting to put their first designs into production.

The biggest faux-pas in interior design?

Trying to be too fashionable can be risky, especially with hotels. A client needs their design to last and for their guests to feel like they’re experiencing something special whether they’re arriving during opening week or five years later.

The one place I wish I’d designed myself…

The Sydney Opera House. For me it is still one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable buildings in the world.

An interiors piece I’ll never part with…

I have a very worn out 19th-century Indian mirror which is the centrepiece in my living room.


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