Helen Skea


What is your favourite project to date?

That is a tough one. I have been lucky to have worked on a wide range of projects, including a resort high up in the Sri Lankan tea plantations, a spa in Rwanda, a mountain retreat in Morocco, luxury hotels, an opera house and private villas. Infinite is involved in such a diverse range of developments, each of which has given us a different and unique experience. But of course, the most memorable is when I was with my previous company working on the One & Only the Palm, Dubai, because that was when I met my husband Russell. Today, he is the architect and I am the interior designer at Infinite.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I am truly inspired by everything I see around me. I enjoy the use of organic forms and materials. The colours and textures in fashion have a subtle influence on my designs. The shadows and reflections of light fascinate me. Architecture and art inspire me, especially when I travel. I love exploring new places and immersing myself in the local culture.

What challenges do you regularly face when designing hotel interiors?

There are so many challenges because there are so many different parties involved in the design and construction of a hotel. I think communication is the key to a successful project. A clear brief and direction from the start saves time, of course, but direct access to the key decision maker makes it much easier for us to interpret the brief, understand the exact requirements and implement the required changes. The other big challenge in this part of the world – and I don’t think I am alone in thinking this –are the crazy deadlines.

As designers, we need to create a strong narrative inspired by the local culture and environs.

Helen Skea

Can you share your insight into the latest trends in hotel bathroom design?

Hotel bathroom design is constantly evolving. A few years ago it was all about clean lines and minimalism, while the current trend seems to be much more eclectic – a richly layered palette of vibrant colour in an array of textures and patterns. I would say my current aesthetic is natural, textural background finishes with bold patterned tiling accents and matt black or pewter fittings.

What is the future for hotel design?

There is one guiding principle in hotel design – telling a story. As designers, we need to create a strong narrative, normally inspired by the local culture and environs. Today, guests are gravitating towards more socially conscious interior spaces. Green properties are increasingly popular. If not entirely eco-friendly, many spaces need to incorporate some elements of sustainable design. Decentralised interior planning is an increasing trend in hotel design – the boundaries between public spaces are disappearing, with individual areas flowing seamlessly into one another. The designs of the future will require a clever mix of work, play and relaxed environments allowing for greater flexibility in how spaces are used.

In your opinion, what is the most important consideration when designing a hotel bathroom?

One of my favourite spaces in terms of design are bathrooms. Keeping it calm, clean and uncluttered are key aspects. Functional and practical planning are important. Good lighting is a must, and ease of cleaning and maintenance needs to be taken into consideration. I also try to incorporate an interesting focal point which could be a feature wall or a bespoke vanity design.

What do you think of Bagnodesign’s products?

I have witnessed the company grow almost since its birth and the selection of products has improved year after year. When I first arrived in Dubai there was a limited range of bathroom products available. Now you can get anything you want, which makes our life a lot easier.

Bagnodesign brings in a wide range of new styles, finishes and materials that are in line with European trends, which allows us to offer our customers the latest and the best from around the world.

How would you describe the experience of working with Sanipex?

I have been working closely with Sanipex since I came to Dubai in 1998, over 20 years ago. I think that speaks for itself! The service is fantastic; the team are very professional, helpful and quick, all of which are extremely important with the deadlines we work to.

Finally, what would be your ultimate dream project?

I have so many dream projects. I would love to work on an eco-lodge in the wild Scottish Highlands, taking me back to my roots. A sailing boat would be fun to do, as my husband is an avid sailor, so designing our own yacht would be a dream come true.