Simon Rawlings
Meet the creative vision behind our luxurious Champagne and cocktail bar, Velvet by Salvatore Calabrese.


  • Tell us about a day in the life of Simon Rawlings.

A typical day – if there was one, when not travelling…

When I'm at home, the day begins at 6:30am. The kids are up, breakfast is on and I have five minutes with a coffee and the New York Times, which arrives through the door before 7am. My job is to get the kids dressed and ready before I depart at 8:15am. I jump on the tube, ready for a 9am AMP class which helps me feel ready for the day. After this, I head to the Studio where a full day of creativity awaits.

With many live projects around the world, there’s a lot to review in concept stage, clients to check in on and progress to be brought up to speed with – this usually extends through lunchtime. Afternoons are reserved for site visits in London and tours with new clients, to look, experience and be inspired. After this, I head back home to pick up my eldest from primary school.

Eating together as a family is important for us - the conversation, the routine, the ceremony brings us together around the table. The bedtime routine kicks in around 7pm with baths, bed and stories. I often fall asleep and wake with a jolt, just in time for a single glass of wine and a TV episode to unwind.


  • What’s something surprising about your creative process that other people might not realise?

A lot of people think design is just the pretty side of things, however from the outset of each and every creation I make it my business to fully understand the operations, workings, nuances and cultures of a project and location. It makes for an exceptional end result and ensures confidence in conversation and strength of ideas.


  • Can you share how you got here?

From a young age, probably around 14, I've had a passion for interiors. I focused on the pathway I wanted to take, worked hard and didn’t follow the typical route, as maybe I would have been side-tracked. Once I finished my Masters in Interior Design and identified which Studio I wanted to be part of, I put all my effort and attention into making it happen - and here I am, 25 years later.


  • What’s your proudest moment so far?

I'm super proud at the end of every project. I love what I do, I love the people I work with and our clients. A proudest moment? Maybe Harrods Food Halls – reinventing these historic landmarks.

Red velvet seating in Velvet bar
Red velvet seating and artwork in Velvet bar


  • What was your inspiration behind your work on Velvet?

Velvet is the bar I want to be in. It's cosy, rich, nostalgic, intimate and glamourous. It's not trying too hard to be the newest or the coolest – just delivering the best at every turn. It’s a nod to the 20’s but a fresh take on luxury also – and a little extravagance, which we all need in our lives right now.


  • Who is your favourite artist or designer right now?

I'm loving the work of Italian architect Fabrizio Casiraghi, a real nod to the past but something new. A chic elegance runs through each creation.


  • What do you think about the design offering London has?

I worry a little about London. We always had interiors which were ahead of the game, new, high quality, visionary, others looked to us. However more recently, we have been falling into the New York pattern of safe and familiar.

We don’t do a huge amount in London but for the projects we are part of, I try hard to ensure it's new and unique, like nothing we have ever done. This helps ensure London as a design scene keeps evolving.


  • How do you think social media has affected the world of art and design?

It has had a massive impact. I can now travel the world through consumers' eyes. It's an incredible tool for resource, research and sources of inspiration.


  • What are your thoughts on NFTs in the art and design world?

I have a lot of time for them. I think they are in their early days but once established, they will firmly become part of the landscape.


  • What advice would you give someone who wants to be a designer but does not know where to start?

Design has so many areas of focus and expertise. Look for what you love, find out who’s doing it, understand their approach, talk to them and take it slowly. Don’t try to rush through the beginning steps as this foundation gives one confidence for the future, conviction in ideas and power of voice.

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