We at UrbanEye are always on the lookout for interesting luxury experiences and services that cater to the international community of millionaires. We recently caught up with an International Interior Architecture, Design and Project Management company headquartered in Mayfair London, that caters solely to the needs of UHNW (ultra high net worth) individuals and their refined often extravagant tastes. Sequoia London boasts a client portfolio of some of the world’ s most powerful people. (Don’t ask us who, luxury is all about discretion). Luckily for us, Radhika Seth, CEO and Founder of this company, Sequoia London caught up with us to give us a few insights into her uber-luxe venture. Read on to find out what it’s like to design homes and spaces for the world’s wealthiest folks.
What made you come up with this kind of idea, the inspiration behind this brand designing for UHNW individuals?
I would say that I fell into it more than just creating a brand focusing on UHNW clients. My family’s business has always worked with UHNW clients, so when I set up my brand, it was a natural progression with the same target audience.
Since the offering is super niche, would you be able to tell us the average number of customers you get on a yearly or monthly basis? How do you ensure that each of them gets that “ultra luxury” experience and individual attention?
In a year, the number of projects we take on is dependent on several factors. Where the project is, what services we are engaged to deliver and the start date. We are very careful of the super luxury projects we take on for UHNWI and as this service is so bespoke and time-consuming, we assess our workload continually throughout the year to ensure we can deliver what we promise.
What is the general demographic of your clients in terms of age, profession and region? Is the luxury consumer becoming younger?
Our clients are quite varied in terms of age, our youngest client is in her mid-20s and our oldest turns 90 this year! We work mainly across prime Central London, India and the Middle East. In terms of profession, they are almost always successful entrepreneurs; those who have been exposed to the best and like the finer things in life.
How long would an average project take?
There is no standard time a project takes. It is dependent on the scope of work we are engaged to undertake, the size of the project, the location of the project, the level of detail the client requires and the availability of the client. An average turnkey interior design, sourcing, procurement and staging process can take between 6 months to 2 years.
Describe the whole process from the time you make contact with the customer?
Every project is different from the next and the timeframe is based on the client’s needs and the scope of services they require. One of our key USP’s is that we spend a great deal of time at the beginning of our projects understanding our clients, their requirements for their space, how they live their private lives, how they entertain, the needs of different family members and much more. If we get the brief right at the outset, it makes the entire process much more enjoyable.
Would you be able to shed some light on the prevailing trends in terms of home decor? What are your customers asking for?
Every customer is different from the next, but we prefer to design spaces that are timeless rather than design trendy at that moment in time. Every year the bar is set higher, new products, technologies, materials emerge and the key is to find a way to mix the latest designs and trends with something they will love now as much as they will in 5 years’ time.
Indian luxury consumers are often price conscious and might often request you to skimp on quality to fit within a budget. How do you strike that balance and toe that line?
Interestingly, most of our Indian clients do not ask us to skimp on quality to fit within a budget. This is also something we would never do as we pride ourselves on our high-quality finishing. Instead they insist on getting value for money. Indians are all about the value. They are happy to spend on very expensive items, they just don’t like to be taken for a ride. Actually, I don’t think any client likes that. Over the past decade our reputation has been built on being able to provide our clients with the best products sourced from across the globe at the most competitive prices.
You talk about functionality in the living space – tell us more about this, give us a few examples of what the ongoing trends are?
Functionality does not have a trend. For us, functionality is unique to every client. Everyone lives their life in their own way, uses their spaces differently and have different aspirations for what they want from their home. The key is ensuring the family or client can walk you through their typical day or schedule, from what they do when they wake up until they go to bed. Allowing their home to be tailored to that is key for functionality. For example, if it is a married couple and the husband or wife wake up significantly earlier than the other, sometimes creating not just his and her bathrooms but his and her spaces is essential. That way they are not living in a £50 million house and having to tip toe around their bedroom while getting dressed in the dark to avoid waking their partner!
And lastly, the luxury interior design industry has indeed had to keep up with the changing lifestyles of UHNW customers. Could you give us some perspective on this and how you have managed?
Again, there is no formula for the lifestyle of a UHNWI. I have clients who may be worth the same financially, but they define and measure luxury completely differently. For example, some clients may wish to spend on very expensive investment art and therefore the design of their home may be centred around that. Others may be wine connoisseurs so building them a great wine cellar may be important. A watch collector may need a bespoke design unit to ensure they are continually rotating, some may need a panic room, a cinema room or spa and the list can go on.
By Kristianne Mascarenhas