With a string of key hotel projects in the UK and Europe, major retail projects throughout Harrods’ flagship London store, private residences as part of Lord Foster’s personal team and, most recently, leading the design on Sydney’s iconic Opera Residences, the incomparable career of Tracey Wiles continues as she takes on the role of regional interior design leader (Australia and New Zealand) at Woods Bagot.
In announcing the appointment, global design leader Domenic Alvaro described Wiles as a dynamic and formidable addition to the practice.
“Tracey’s portfolio of work is world class and her design experience unparalleled. She’s a tremendous asset and we will see that infuse through the Sydney studio, and globally.”
With the firm’s CEO Nik Karalis and Sydney design leader Ian Lomas (with whom Wiles has worked extensively), Alvaro is seducing globally exceptional designers to Woods Bagot with the assurance of the firm’s exemplary practices and unquestionable commitment to design excellence.
Wiles couldn’t resist. Having held partnership and design leader roles at MAKE (UK and Australia), and Foster + Partners (UK), she described her appointment at Woods Bagot as an opportunity to “do something amazing” and build on her high end global portfolio with exemplary work in Australia.
“I’m here to make a difference. I live for creative conflicts and challenges, the rapid firing exchange of ideas, questions and opinions, and a fully integrated approach where interior design is more than a plug-in.”
Wiles shares the Woods Bagot dedication to designing buildings that “we would readily live, work and play in ourselves, without exception”. She also shares the firm’s distaste for trend-driven design.
“More than anything, a design will succeed when it responds to a project’s unique conditions and constraints. That means designing a variety of spaces that respond to the users’ needs under the umbrella of a robust intelligent design concept.”
On joining Woods Bagot Wiles has taken the interiors lead on key hotel projects including the new QT Hotel in Sydney’s Parramatta. The face of the accommodation sector is changing and very intelligent hotel clients, says Wiles, are seeking out breadth and depth of experience and knowledge across sectors to ensure a unique approach to their properties.
“They understand that blending hospitality, commercial, residential and retail design knowledge with hotel experience is the way to elevate a project beyond typical.”
Blending is something Wiles lives and breathes. Qualified in interior design and architecture, she works at the intersection of disciplines and crosses all sectors.
“As an interior designer I felt confined by the walls. I wanted to work more with structures, and services, so I trained as an architect.”
Internationally, Wiles played a key role as an associate partner at Foster + Partners, where she oversaw luxury hotel projects including ME London, Zurich’s Dolder Grand and Madrid’s Hotel Puerta América as well as Lord Norman Foster’s private houses, among them La Voile at Cap Ferrat and an apartment in the Chesa Futura development in St Moritz.
Since returning to Australia two years ago (she left in her mid-twenties, on a two-year working visa) Wiles is proudest of the interior architecture for the super-premium Opera Residences, Sydney, which broke market records when released in 2016.
“What’s compelling is how fully integrated the interior design is. Elegant and practical, it’s in the finest details that we can make people’s experience of a space so much better.”
The move to Woods Bagot reunites Wiles with long-time accomplice Ian Lomas. ‘Sympatico’ is how she describes their design relationship and their respective ambitions for projects.
“Ian and I thrive on the challenge of delivering ‘turnkey’ projects – designing, selecting and procuring every aspect of a building. We test each other with our insistence on quality detailing from a micro through to macro scale.”
Wiles also shares with Lomas a personal commitment to the development of design’s future best and brightest. The professional development of Woods Bagot designers will be all the richer for her mentorship.