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A man’s world

Berkeley Group Magazine

December, 2012

Interior designer Chris Dezille talks masculine styling and why he can’t stop redecorating at home…

“My wife is in a constant state of turmoil,” admits Chris Dezille. “It’s an occupational hazard when you live with a designer. We moved into a house last year which needed cosmetic work done very quickly, but after that I was told not to touch it for 12 months. A year on, the gloves are off and she’s living in a building site. She knows I’m constantly going to want to change things.”

This approach has certainly played its part in 43-yearold Dezille’s successful career. In 20 years, he’s gone from intern to founder of the award-winning interior design consultancy Honky, where he has built up a formidable reputation. “We’re currently working on a boutique hotel in Montenegro and a 15,000sq ft house in Hampstead that’s probably worth £35m,” says Dezille.

At school in Berkshire, Chris’s aptitude for running a business wasn’t obvious. “I wasn’t academic,” he concedes. “However, I really enjoyed technical drawing. I could always do attention to detail.” He started his career working as a display artist, but didn’t particularly enjoy it. “Fortunately I happened to meet a designer and realised that was what I wanted to do. So I spent the next two years creating a portfolio. I had to start at the bottom and retrain as an intern.”

After 10 years with a design firm, Dezille decided to go it alone. “I phoned some clients and said I was leaving. Within 20 minutes, one phoned back. They liked my interiors and were bringing £400m-worth of property to market in the next 18 months, so it was a smooth transition for me.”

Honky has been in business for 11 years and offers a design service covering not only interiors but also giving input into layout and architecture. That’s exactly what happened when Dezille was contacted by Berkeley to work on Terrace Yard, a collection of townhouses in Richmond, Surrey. Dezille was also asked to work on the No. 1 Gunwharf Quays apartments in Portsmouth. “The penthouse was originally two duplex apartments, but Berkeley took on our recommendation that it would work better as a single space,” says Dezille. “Penthouses need to deliver, and the Gunwharf Quays penthouse is outstanding; a duplex with 360-degree views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. It’s something we’re really proud of.”

When asked to sum up his style, Dezille’s answer is cautious. “I’m always designing for clients, so I should be creating an interior that they like,” he says. “I’ve been accused of producing masculine schemes in the past. I used to be apologetic about it, but now I say, ‘Well, I am a man!’”

Does Dezille have his legacy in mind? “If you want a legacy, be an architect. They build things that last, whereas interiors change,” he says. “For me, it’s just important to make a difference. In my own little way, I’ve improved people’s lives.”

A man’s world

December 7, 2012

Interior designer Chris Dezille talks masculine styling and why he can’t stop redecorating at home…

“My wife is in a constant state of turmoil,” admits Chris Dezille. “It’s an occupational hazard when you live with a designer. We moved into a house last year which needed cosmetic work done very quickly, but after that I was told not to touch it for 12 months. A year on, the gloves are off and she’s living in a building site. She knows I’m constantly going to want to change things.”

This approach has certainly played its part in 43-yearold Dezille’s successful career. In 20 years, he’s gone from intern to founder of the award-winning interior design consultancy Honky, where he has built up a formidable reputation. “We’re currently working on a boutique hotel in Montenegro and a 15,000sq ft house in Hampstead that’s probably worth £35m,” says Dezille.

At school in Berkshire, Chris’s aptitude for running a business wasn’t obvious. “I wasn’t academic,” he concedes. “However, I really enjoyed technical drawing. I could always do attention to detail.” He started his career working as a display artist, but didn’t particularly enjoy it. “Fortunately I happened to meet a designer and realised that was what I wanted to do. So I spent the next two years creating a portfolio. I had to start at the bottom and retrain as an intern.”

After 10 years with a design firm, Dezille decided to go it alone. “I phoned some clients and said I was leaving. Within 20 minutes, one phoned back. They liked my interiors and were bringing £400m-worth of property to market in the next 18 months, so it was a smooth transition for me.”

Honky has been in business for 11 years and offers a design service covering not only interiors but also giving input into layout and architecture. That’s exactly what happened when Dezille was contacted by Berkeley to work on Terrace Yard, a collection of townhouses in Richmond, Surrey. Dezille was also asked to work on the No. 1 Gunwharf Quays apartments in Portsmouth. “The penthouse was originally two duplex apartments, but Berkeley took on our recommendation that it would work better as a single space,” says Dezille. “Penthouses need to deliver, and the Gunwharf Quays penthouse is outstanding; a duplex with 360-degree views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. It’s something we’re really proud of.”

When asked to sum up his style, Dezille’s answer is cautious. “I’m always designing for clients, so I should be creating an interior that they like,” he says. “I’ve been accused of producing masculine schemes in the past. I used to be apologetic about it, but now I say, ‘Well, I am a man!’”

Does Dezille have his legacy in mind? “If you want a legacy, be an architect. They build things that last, whereas interiors change,” he says. “For me, it’s just important to make a difference. In my own little way, I’ve improved people’s lives.”