We sat down with Chris Stevens from CTRL Space, an award-winning Interior Design Studio based in New Zealand. He speaks to his design process, explains why form should always follow function, and shares his sources of inspiration.

You're in the business of creating beautiful spaces that function for a purpose. What does your design process involve?

We work on a very collaborate process with our clients to fully understand their needs and objectives.  From there, we research and dig into our knowledge to come up with the suitable design that is fit for purpose.  We rarely apply trends, we design specific to the brief and circumstance.

In your opinion what are the essential elements to focus on when designing a hospitality space?

Form will always follow function – it is essential that the space flows properly and done in a way that the customer knows exactly how to engage with the space.  From there, we look at an aesthetic that complements the operational style and projected demographic.  There is no single formula, instead to interrogate each space in the same way

What has been one of your favorite projects to date and why?

One of our more recent projects in Tauranga – Picknica.  We love working with clients who truly understand and enjoy the design process and see the tangible value in good design and material selections.  With this project, every material was collective assessed and fine tuned to ensure the overall palette was as good as it possibly could be.

What has been one of your most significant learning curves?

Firstly, don’t work with wankers - The creative process can be an emotional one and it’s important that it does not just become a transaction.  There are always egos in play but I feel if you cant enjoy a drink with your client when the venue opens, its not worth doing the project.

Secondly, value your team.  Never take any of your team for granted and make them the number one priority of your business, after all, they represent all that you do.  Clients and projects will come and go but your staff can be with you for a long time.  Cherish that

Who and what inspires you?

From an interior design perspective the likes of ACME Studio in Australia produce some amazing hospitality design work.  More locally, I am a big fan of the work from Fearon Hay.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Never let a recession get in the way of an opportunity – We have all been through the mill over the last two years but the world keeps on turning and it’s about how we adapt and move forward that keeps us strong.  As someone also said, we don’t drown from falling into the river, we drown from not being able to swim.

What’s on your playlist at the moment?

Music is so time and place for me and very mood dependant.  Quite extremes, so the likes of IDLES and The Foals often pop up and then on the other end, Michael Kiwanuka is a good day to day.  Beyond that, my Spotify algorithm throws up some bangers now and again.

George Wilkins