Exit through the terminal

When CID met Andrew Linwood, Head of Design at Areen Hospitality, the man seemed to naturally emanate a candid charm.

It seems that Andrew Linwood always had his feet firmly planted on ground, no matter what direction he was heading off to. Having started his career at Richmond International, an exclusively five-star and above design company owned by Areen Design Services, Linwood didn’t take long before he was spearheading his own fraction.

While at Richmond, Linwood experienced working on projects around the world – a taste that would later prove unquenchable, bringing the designer around to both popular and remote regions to work on airports and hotels. But he noticed there was a void in the market, a void he would take upon himself to soon fill.

“During all my years of working in Asia, I used to get a lot of calls, and they’d say, ‘Right, Andrew [there’s] a project in India,’ and then I’d send them a proposal out from London and I’d never hear from them again because, frankly it was four times the price,” Linwood begins.

“So I kept talking to our managing director, saying there’s an awful lot of business in Asia. My wife is polish, so I’m very familiar with Eastern Europe. And I’d tell my partner, we should be targeting Eastern Europe and he wouldn’t go for it.

As far as he was concerned it was all China or the U.S., but it was clear that the market wanted something that we could call ‘Richmond Light’. [Potential clients] liked the professional interior design services that we could offer, but they didn’t like the price.

So, we had to find a way to do that, and we couldn’t call it Richmond because that would dilute the name. But there’s a huge market for projects five-star and below that’s not really targeted by the big design houses, because it’s just not economical.

“For them, basically, if you think about a Savile Row tailed suit, it’s expensive because it’s handmade and there’s a lot of attention to detail, but a lot of projects don’t need that. I’m not saying that we’re off the peg; we don’t recycle stuff. But the way we do it—well, it isn’t magic.”

Linwood and Areen Design Services launched Areen Hospitality in August 2008. With a focus on hotels and commercial projects, Areen Hospitality began introducing an array of services that hadn’t previously been offered by many big international companies. Linwood explains: “What we’re doing is offering two different design houses from one [parent company] to target different sectors in the market. From my experience, we’ve covered all of it.”

With the creative team based in London and the production based in cities like Delhi and Cairo, the cost of the services was chopped by an incredible amount. And though 2008 offered poor timing to start a new company, Linwood explains that three projects in Saudi Arabia saw the company through.

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