In an interview with Rachael Lantry, Brooke Taylor, and Daniel Scovill of architecture and interior design firm Arcsine, we discussed the origin and evolution of the company, the state of luxury interior design today and trends on the horizon, and their recent engagement to revamp the Bernardus Spa in California’s Carmel Valley.
Arcsine describes itself as an architecture and interior design firm. Tell me a little bit about the history of the company and how those two ideas intersect in practice.
Arcsine began as an architecture firm in 2003 focusing on restaurant and residential work. As the projects grew and hospitality projects were added, it became clear that we had the opportunity to provide our clients with a full scope of design, from architecture to interiors. In 2013, we decided to pursue this goal and have built a strong interior design team. Our ideal projects engage us to develop the full design, both architectural and interior. Our interior and architecture teams collaborate from concept vision through documentation and construction to ensure that the outcome is a superb blend of what each discipline has to offer.
When you think about luxury interior design today, how would you describe the state of play, and how do you see these trends evolving in the coming years?
Luxury has become a more complicated concept in recent years. Not long ago, a traditional aesthetic that leaned heavily on European history and materials was the surest way to convey luxury. Now, however, the concept is more nuanced: a certain amount of eclecticism is expected in order to imply a well-traveled worldliness; materials have gone beyond the defaults of silk and marble, with an origin story, ecology, and craftsmanship given more weight; and simplicity is becoming more valued than grandeur.
We anticipate this shift to strengthen in the coming years, with technology continuing to integrate into society and thereby fueling a desire to foster true connections with other people. In that context, the communication of personality, values, and point of view replaces the communication of wealth as the raison d’etre of any luxury design endeavor.
With regard to your work on Bernardus Spa in California’s Carmel Valley, how did you approach this design challenge, and how does your thinking about innovative and creative spaces inform this approach?
The Bernardus property has such a strong sense of place; our design approach was to balance the luxury that is inherent to the design of an exclusive villa/suite with the relaxed and understated chic aesthetic that the Carmel Valley is known for. This relaxed elegance was achieved by layering eclectic patterns, contrasting textures, lush accents, and hand-crafted details. The bathrooms optimize this balance with custom laser-cut copper panels in an abstract leaf pattern, a layering of textures from the ribbed shower glass to the textured sinks inspired by pottery, glamorous brass light fixtures, and a free-standing hammered copper tub and tiles that are locally handcrafted with a cracked celadon glaze.
What were some of the challenges to this project, and how did you overcome them?
The construction schedule was the biggest challenge on this project; we joined the design team while the shell construction was already underway. We were very conscious of the limited lead time we had available for materials, furniture, and lighting—one of our responses to this challenge was to specify domestically manufactured pieces wherever possible, to help not only our tight schedule but also to support local industry.
If you were to describe the final look, feel, and mood of the Bernardus Spa’s luxurious interior, what comes to mind?
The Bernardus interiors are alluring, relaxed, and elegant. The soft muted palette of neutrals and celadon is punctuated with rich plum and luxe metallics. This balance of comfort and opulence permeates the design from the spacious interior and inviting upholstered furnishings to the custom chandeliers, hammered copper freestanding tubs, and private outdoor showers set over hand-crafted Moroccan tiles and surrounded by luscious vines. The villas and suites at Bernardus Spa feel soft, warm, and welcoming with a refined element of luxury.