Meet the Self-Taught Husband and Wife Design Team Who Can Turn a Soulless White Box into a Sanctuary

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Angus Buchanan got his start in set design and on big-budget photo shoots, while his wife Charlotte built her career working with well-known glossy brands. Today, the couple run Buchanan Studio, creating bold yet welcoming spaces, and mixing new furniture with old and salvaged pieces. Together they inject their color and charm into hotels, private homes, restaurants and more.

How did you combine function and style when working on a project?

Angus Buchanan: In all of our projects, there is an important interplay between function and style. I would say that’s the heart of our role as designers. In residential and commercial projects, the style of a space is often influenced by a practical or functional element. For example, in many of the restaurants we work on, we like to make the kitchen a central part of the design, with bar seating and an open fireplace visible to diners. The same goes for a residential project; a home should be practical and effortless but also beautiful.

I know you spoke at length Angus about being ‘destined for a creative career’ – how has your time working for Mario Testino and then set designer Michael Howells influenced your current career and style? Working with Mario at the height of luxury fashion was fast-paced and high-pressure. I was exposed to incredibly talented and influential creative people, and had the opportunity to visit parts of the world I had never seen before. I think it instilled a deep flexibility and openness in me. Michael showed me there was a way to have a creative role that really felt like a chameleon. A setting for a couture show one day, a setting for a recording artist the next, then a ballet on the weekend. It required a lot of different creative ideas and it gave me the desire to create a studio open to all creative productions and which does not only conform to a “house style”.

What is your favorite design era and why? We’ve always loved the 70’s, a time that introduced the concept of open plan living, with an emphasis on maximizing interior light and space, through skylights and double ceilings. height. We also love all the 70s indoor gardens and the bold use of color and pattern.

Angus – you have traveled the world designing theater and fashion sets – what are the most inspiring cities or landmarks you have come across and why? I had the chance to see all kinds of amazing places. I will never forget the first time I worked in Tokyo, designing a store for Comme des Garçons. The assault of the senses, incredible new sights, sounds, smells, neon lights and technology. On the other hand, another moment that stood out to me was working on Dior’s anniversary event at the Palace of Versailles. We basically took over the entire palace to create an absolutely amazing couture show and huge dinner.

You have no formal training or degree in design. How has this helped you and how has it sometimes hindered you? I started working with Mario when I was 18 and always felt that my hands-on experience working with him and later with Michael was more valuable to me personally than college was. would have been. I’ve never been an “academic” as such, and I’m very dyslexic, so a “real life” industry experience was perfect for me. I always say that my time with Michal was my “university”. He was a rare and exceptional creative talent, generous with his time, experience and wit.

What’s your secret to working together as a husband and wife team? We having different strengths and controlling different parts of the business, which is essential for us, but does not always avoid conflict, so a sense of humor is also essential! The joy of working together is having a shared dream and shared aspirations.

What is your approach to translating a client’s vision (like Le Bab’s) into a tangible space? And how do you balance a client’s desires with the desire to perhaps push a client or put your own stamp on a project? We are very fortunate to have exceptionally creative clients with whom we work in collaboration. They’re often designers or artists themselves, and they’re open to challenges, and they push us to keep thinking differently.

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