Founded in 2004 by Mark Newman and Thomas Zieglmeier, Newman Zieglmeier brings a fresh and nuanced approach to the world of design with their bold features and experimental use of techniques and materials. With a portfolio ranging from new builds, extensions, refurbishments, conservation areas and listed buildings, it’s clear that the pair understand how architecture and design work in synchrony to create sensational spaces. Known in the design world for their innovative projects and bespoke creations which beautifully marry eclectic elements within a sophisticated space, we had the chance to sit down with the duo behind the brand to ask all about their favourite projects, trends and aspects of working in the industry.
How was Newman Zieglmeier born?
T: We actually both came from different design backgrounds, Mark from a product design one and me from an architectural one. We ran our own enterprises but over the course of two years we collaborated on various projects together and found that our different experiences spurned our creativity and therefore decided to merge our expertise to set up Newman Zieglmeier in 2004.
How did you both initially gain interest in architecture and interiors?
T: I have always been fascinated with organising spaces into something beautiful, as after all we are almost always surrounded by it.
M: Product design gave me a full insight into the detailed design process, and this coupled with a thorough understanding of materials, their properties and applications, is when I grew a passion for the field. This zeal for architectural design and interiors grew when I undertook projects crafting joinery and interior design to period properties in the UK and overseas.
You mentioned that your office is in Kensal Rise for over a decade now. How did you come about to choose the location?
M: As well as being a good investment at the time, the high street needed rejuvenation, and we felt passionate about contributing positively to this for the local community. It has been great for us to see the high street evolve over the past decade.
How do you approach a new project?
T: We first familiarise ourselves with the client’s brief & lifestyle, then discover the needs that a may not even have been considered by themselves. Other important components include researching the neighbourhood and local planning guidelines, as well as the conceptual design where we endeavor to marry functional design with a strong narrative and outside the box thinking.
M: After this start we then move onto the thorough detailed design before entering the construction period and procurement. Seeing concepts and narratives transform into a physical structure and details is very rewarding for both ourselves and the client.
What materials and colours are you drawn to as a practice and why?
T: The importance of remaining respectful of architectural history and periods is a key consideration and we work to complement the existing parts within a space and its surroundings. As a practice we often strive to introduce some contrasting effects to the design through the use of colours and surface materials. In previous projects we have done this by introducing sustainable new materials, as well as specifying recycle-friendly and second-hand interior fittings.
M: We apply ourselves differently to each project and try not to prescribe to a certain trend. We are strongly led by a client’s brief and lifestyle, but still see through our style. We have found that natural materials coupled with a monochrome colour palette feature prominently in our work. This common thread is fueled by our desire to achieve an overall aesthetic that endures changing times, lifestyles and trends and therefore be a truly sustainable design solution.
Can you elaborate on your ‘outside the box’ thinking?
T: Many of our innovative solutions come from what we see as hurdles in a project. We believe every hurdle presents its own opportunity and helps us to create something truly unique. The obstacle is the way.
M: Generally, we aim to conceal the structural elements in a design and therefore focus on understanding how materials behave to push the boundaries of their capabilities in order to produce outstanding results. For me this manipulation of materials is one of our more restrained approaches to ‘outside the box’ thinking.
Do you have a favourite room to design within a home? Why?
T: Our client’s most important space becomes our favourite room because their passion excites us. This varies with each project and enables the distinct story each client would like to share to come to the forefront of the design.
M: The challenge of making spaces adaptable and combine functions has become a central necessity in modern day living. Most clients favour open plan arrangements, as do I. Therefore we always concentrate on those areas ensuring they work perfectly, both functionally as well as visually.
Across your many projects, home extensions, particularly made of glass, make a reappearance. What draws you to this architectural feature?
T: Light and organisation can free the mind and allow one to positively focus on interaction and thinking, and a suitable glass extension provides this type of environment.
M: Allowing natural light entering certain spaces with the use of glass is very important to us. This facilitates us tuning into our circadian rhythm, which can dramatically improve wellbeing and contentment.
What design trend has been your favourite and least favourite over the past decade?
T: I feel strongly that the ability of spaces to transform and communicate with each other is something which will never go out of trend and aspire to concentrate on these elements of design rather than changing fashions.
M: I agree, although I must confess, I have a penchant for the 1920’s, and I’m certain the avocado suites of the 1970’s will make a reappearance sooner than you think.
Do you think homes should present a narrative in their designs?
T: Every individual and family has a story to tell. I believe that story is better told in a reserved manner, than stating the obvious.
M: Indeed, and you must put yourself into the role of the end-user. A home must be a place where nothing bothers you and everything works flawlessly. We have had a client in the past for a London based project that said they no longer felt the urge to escape to their country residence at the weekend anymore.
What future projects of Newman Zieglmeier can you tell us about?
M: We have several local refurbishments, extensions and conversions currently underway. A few of our projects are situated within conservation areas, including a basement excavation in Queen’s Park and an extension in Notting Hill, and with this comes a new approach to design and the planning process.
T: Outside of the UK, we’re currently working on a restaurant in Munich, a bar in Sylt, an island off the coast of Northern Germany, and eco timber structures in a national park in Poland, which will form relaxing retreats in the heart of nature.
What is the story behind this colourful and quirky home?
M: This home was a very close collaboration with the client who had a clear design aesthetic from the start. Their favorite part of the scheme is the screen which creates the light and space of an open plan room whilst maintaining the intimacy of a traditional layout.
Hues of blues and greens make multiple appearances throughout the various pockets. Can you elaborate on this design decision?
M: The brief was to create the feel of a 1930s workshop in a contemporary residential space. The colours come from Papers and Paints 1930s and Traditional ranges. The use of lots of colour throughout the whole flat is also a nod to the bohemian aesthetic of 1980s Notting Hill.
Was there a reason behind using reeded glass doors within the home?
T: We did this to minimise transparency and reduce reflection, which helped to create a calm city hub.
M: The glass also creates privacy in a way that is more visually delicate than a conventional blank door, whilst bringing in natural light to the hall.
Did the neighbourhood’s creative scene in any way influence your design when starting this project?
T: The liberating use of colours in Notting Hill throughout the 70’s and 80’s, which now unfortunately has almost disappeared, was a key reference point for the project, and steered us away from conventional trends.
What is your favourite part of the home?
T: The ground floor kitchen. It features a beautiful Crittall screen, offering a great view over the calm rear garden, which creates this sense of an oasis in the city.
What vision did you have when it came to design the interiors of Marta, the Trattoria and Bar in Munich, Germany?
T: We endeavoured to create an approachable and tactile environment within the new build complex it was sited in.
M: Unlike a home, a commercial design must appeal to a multitude of people, and so it was key to create a space that felt inviting enough that diners would want to return.
Texture plays an important role – from wood, marble and velvet – how were you able to combine all of these and still exude a sophisticated feel throughout the restaurant?
T: It was a constant process of additions and eliminations, trying to find an equilibrium between warm reminiscences of southern Italy and industrial architecture. It required weighing up the impact of textures and finishes in terms of vibrancy and tactility. Order and Disorder.
Can you elaborate on the bespoke hanging light you created specifically for this project?
T: The multicoloured vestibule screen is intended to distribute daylight at certain times into the bar area, like a kaleidoscope. At night, we tried to create a counterpart light fixture which scatters the light into many directions. This is how the idea of the Sputnik inspired oversized light fitting was born.
M: The original Sputnik lamp is a true classic, and by paying homage to this piece we were able to create a true focal point in the restaurant.
Describe the space in three words.
T: Balanced, comfortable and beautiful.
M: Timeless, groovy and inviting.
Do you have a favourite feature within?
T: Within the larger pieces of joinery we crafted secret nooks, to create a sense of intrigue and playfulness if found and utilised. One might get a secret glimpse in to the men’s room behind or find a secret door to elsewhere. We often like to balance our designs with a sense of humour.