Suzie and David Lucas
A pair of siblings from Seattle played a key role in bringing the serenity of The Landing – a Bay of Islands retreat – to The Hotel Britomart in downtown Auckland.
Seattle-based spatial design firm Lucas Interior is sought-after around the world for their instantly welcoming, timeless sanctuaries that layer crafted and custom design in a warm, tactile, elegant way. That fine skill was what drew Peter Cooper – founder of Cooper and Company, which owns Britomart and The Hotel Britomart – to ask them to create the interiors for the Residences at The Landing – a serene 1000-acre coastal property in Northland. Now, they’ve brought elements of those interiors – inspired by the beautiful Northland landscape – right into the heart of the city. Britomart’s Melinda Williams interviewed Suzie and David Lucas (principal designer and creative director at the firm, ably supported by their sister Rachel as operations manager) about how they’ve translated the calm atmosphere of the Residences into a bustling urban setting.
How did your relationship with Cooper and Company begin?
We have been working with the Coopers for years. It began with working on their personal homes [in the United States and New Zealand] and has evolved into consulting with them on basically anything that they would like us to look at from a design perspective.
When you worked on the interior spaces for the Residences at The Landing, what was the broad brief you worked to?
The concept was to use a vocabulary of materials and interior architectural details that would relate to the robust nature of the site and work as a strong backdrop to the important historical significance of The Landing. We looked for opportunities within the architecture to convey this through using materials like wood slab and steel, that feel at home on the property, counterbalanced with elegant fabrics and furniture finishes that relate to colours of the surrounding landscape and speak to the unique luxury that you experience at The Landing.
What essential qualities of The Landing Residences have you brought into The Landing Suites?
We have brought a sense of these materials and architectural detailing, sometimes copying a detail exactly – for instance, the timber-lined walls. Once you arrive within The Suites your experience of the space has the feeling of being at The Landing but with a very different view! The difference of landscape does not work against The Landing Suites but rather has a different dialogue with the space – you are more aware of the serene nature of The Landing.
Luxury is is a word that feels like has lost its meaning somewhat. How do you understand ‘luxury’ today, and how else might you describe the experience you’ve created?
The word luxury recalls a glittering image that does not necessarily resonate with the design aesthetic, but within the experience. There is a luxury in arriving someplace that feels well balanced, comfortable, inviting, and natural. A humbleness achieved by opting for well-crafted and quiet materials.
We have developed a personal connection with the client in terms of our aesthetic and are able to communicate through form and materials to convey a sense of place and luxury. This is not done in what might be considered the traditional idea of what that word means, but a more individual experience of joining luxury with personal values. At The Landing this means understanding the beauty in the robust nature of the place and the rich cultural history and significance, and looking for ways to bring those qualities out through design and materials.
Can you talk about a few details or specially commissioned elements that set the suites apart?
One of the most unique qualities of The Landing is the bespoke nature of what has been designed specifically for the property. From entry consoles and dining tables to upholstery and headboards, all details have been thoughtfully considered in terms of their connection to the site and how they will be used and experienced. One of the best examples of this in The Suites are the custom console tables made from the branches of trees from the actual Landing property. These are literally of The Landing, bringing the spirit of that place to inhabit the suites with their presence.
The suites all have differing layouts and orientations – do they each have unique design moods too?
At the start of concept design, we strived to bring a different mood to each suite with subtle shifts in colour palette choices and details such as differing handwoven rug textures. We composed the material palettes to reference some of the hues that resonate with the natural world of The Landing property… the colours of the grasses, water, native birds, and vegetation. The colours found in the landscape there leave a huge impression, which we hoped to weave into the feeling of the Suites.
Conceptually, the Suites on Level 10 feel closely connected to The Landing Residences while the Suites atop the heritage building in the new pavilion are a step further away / simultaneously closer to the heart of Auckland and modern city ambiance, with dramatic expanses of glass and city views.
Sustainability is a strong element of the design of the hotel. How did you integrate sustainable elements in your work?
The technical aspect of sustainability was well-managed by the building team locally. Within the interiors, we opted for materials that will stand the test of time. Timelessness in aesthetics is always something we strive for, leaning into designs and selections that will not need to be replaced in a few years for feeling dated.