Meet the Builders: Cecilia Vodret
Introducing our Member, Cecilia Vodret, Head of Design at Studio SPERI!
In our Meet the Builders series, we highlight some of the fantastic people and organisations that make up our community here at The Building Society. They include a wide variety of practices in the built environment who are responsible for ‘building’ and communicating the projects that define our rural and urban landscapes – from designers, engineers and planners to surveyors, developers, photographers and artists.
Tell us a bit about you…
I was born and raised in Rome, spending my summer holidays in our Tuscany family home. What I experienced there, the beauty of nature and the perfect interaction between nature and human artefacts, is my happy place. And still today I am drawn to that perfect balance in which humanity does, surprisingly, happen to improve nature; this ambition underlining every design choice.
I moved to London, as everyone does, for a six-month experience some fifteen years ago and stayed here ever since. My husband and two daughters have come along the way… we’re considering a dog addition now.
In my twenty years of profession, I still intend design into its more ethical meaning: to provide a meaningful backdrop to people’s lives, improving their life experience through design. I have been lucky enough in my life to work on an eclectic range of projects; with low budget, no budget, enormous budget, large or small and the driving force behind the design has always been about people’s experience.
And the organisation you work for?
Following my experience as an Associate at Jestico + Whiles, I have just recently embarked into a new exciting venture, setting up the London branch of Studio Speri, the well-established multidisciplinary Italian company.
It has been quite a life changing decision, and a thoroughly unexpected opportunity.
Francesco, one of the Directors of the company, is a long-time friend with a passion for hospitality and it just felt right to say yes when he approached me with the project!
SPERI is quite a large organisation employing more than 250 people, a reality growing fast in the past years. Started as a family business, it now has the size of a large office but retains the personal approach that is inherently part of its DNA, with a level of curated experience for the client that I felt was just right for me.
With a large portfolio of hotel renovation in the centre of Rome, SPERI is looking now at creating its international design hub, looking at further expanding its already strong hospitality work with its own independent and dedicated interiors office.
Tell us about a project or initiative that you’re proud of…
At Jestico + Whiles I worked on possibly my two favourite interior projects, talking about an eclectic range, they can be positioned at the very opposite end of the hospitality spectrum: the cruise ship IONA for the quintessentially British brand P&O and the Mandarin Oriental in Lucerne.
They both involved quite large international teams with a pool of very talented people, and the best part of it was getting together with likeminded people, and building the very best possible in each environment. Places that were right for the very different guest experience both projects catered for.
The relentless pace of the shipyard, with monthly deadlines and milestones, required a military style approach to design phases and a cohesive team that can endure that, and at Jestico it was difficult to let go of people that have been part of that journey.
On the other side the Mandarin Oriental, in its amazing location, sitting on the lake side, has been a unique experience, possibly a bundle of my favourite things in a project: the charm of the existing historical building, the idyllic scenery and the challenge to create a unique setting.
Favourite thing about working in a coworking and collaboration space?
Jennifer Camilletti (from Elliott Wood) introduced us to The Building Society, and it is nice to bump into a her.
We love the double location, and although we are based conveniently in Wimbledon for a large part of the time, it is so nice to be able to swap the peace and quiet of the “suburban” office for the buzz of central London.
What are your desert island essentials?
Book: One book, quite a difficult choice, I am an avid reader of narrative, nothing upsetting or dramatic though, in my opinion there is enough already in the news if you are up for it… no need to be making it up.
Probably the chunkier, more densely written I can get, so that I could do what I love the most and usually do not have time for. Following the first read going through the prose, and looking at the construction of each sentence, I love the way English is so different from Italian, and love to indulge in some nice pieces of writing.
Music: Will let my husband decide, he is always in charge of getting together our playlist for the car, somehow he knows my taste better than myself!
Luxury item: As someone said to me; being Italian comes with an educated palate, and posh food tastes, so my luxury item would be a selection of French and Italian cheeses (I know I will need a refrigerator) as large as I can possibly carry!