Rihga Royal Hotel in New York is a 54-storey, purpose-built hotel that hasn’t had a redesign since it opened in the mid-1980s. The job came through the property development company Blackstone, which had already called on Collins’ expertise on the bars in The Berkeley and Claridge’s Hotel, both in London. ‘They want the London vibe and British eccentricity, brought over to New York,’ says Collins, which for him means hints of Englishness in the doorman, the tea and the details of the tailoring, such as cuffs on the curtains. However, the result won’t be gimmicky or themed, he promises.
The group, which has made money every year, had a turnover of £3.5m in the last financial year. Collins says he’s not interested in selling at the moment and has never ‘gone down the courtship road’. ‘The very spark of creativity goes out when you are bought,’ he says, adding that he’s not motivated by money.
But things are changing at David Collins Studio. This autumn, a share structure will be introduced for senior staff. And the day after our meeting, Collins and senior designer Simon Rawlings were off on a time management course.
Collins – who trained as an architect – admits that he has ‘itchy hands’ to design something from scratch. He dreams of creating the building that his next London restaurant goes into, ‘so that we don’t have to compromise the design’. He contrasts this with the Nobu Berkeley building, which he describes as a ‘bitch’, with all its staircases: ‘It was complicated to make the design simple,’ he explains. But that seems to be his gift.