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Maria Katsarou-Vafiadis loves raw, industrial interiors

The founder of MKV Design and the designer behind Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl shares some of her favourite places and spaces in London

My favourite has to be Queen Mary’s Garden in Regents Park, which is just a stroll away from home.

As the Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl opens its doors, Maria Katsarou-Vafiadis, founder of MKV Design and the designer behind its interiors, shares some of her favourite places and spaces in London:

The sight that inspires me the most is… the Shard, London’s iconic “Vertical City” designed by Renzo Piano — the tallest tower in western Europe. The sight of it from so many vantage points in London is quite majestic but it is the sights from it that I find stir my soul. Looking out from the 69th level Observation Deck, or even more, from the 72nd open air Sky Deck, you have 360-degree views for up to 40 miles on a clear day.

The building I feel most connected to in the city is… the Tate Modern, London’s huge gallery of modern art. The building was previously a power station, converted some 20 years ago by Herzog & de Meuron into a gallery of immense creative energy. Just two years ago, the practice completed a new-build extension with a bold, “twisted” exterior form and in the lower ground level of the original building there are “The Tanks”, once used to store oil, now reinvented as live performance spaces. I love the raw, industrial feel and the fact that something that had become obsolete has been repurposed in this way. 

My favourite has to be Queen Mary’s Garden in Regents Park, which is just a stroll away from home.

A recent “find” is… the Discount Suit Company, a cocktail bar in London’s Spitalfields, a stone’s throw from our office. It’s tiny, quirky and in the basement but with the most delicious cocktails and fantastic staff. It’s a place where city slickers rub shoulders with the local “cool” set.

An object from outside my city that sits in my home is… an antique Venetian mirror, which I found in Vienna. I lived there for a period of time and the mirror brings back memories of this part of my life. It is also very beautiful.

On my coffee table you’ll always find… chocolates. When I travel back from places that produce delicious chocolates, I always bring some home with me. Luckily, I have been doing a lot of work in Switzerland recently! We also have a couple of excellent chocolatiers in the part of London where I live.

I love the raw, industrial feel and the fact that something that had become obsolete has been repurposed in this way.

Maria Katsarou-Vafiadis

My favourite space in my city is… London is blessed with many gorgeous parks and gardens but my favourite has to be Queen Mary’s Garden in Regents Park, which is just a stroll away from home. There are more than 12,000 roses in this amazing garden, as well as many other flowers, shrubberies and fountains, and it’s for everyone to enjoy every day. Surrounded by the bustle of London, it’s a beautiful, scent-filled retreat.

The last gift I received from someone in the city was… the last, very special gift, I received from a friend in London was a Philip Treacy hat. I love it for being a perfect concoction of art and craft. I’m not sure how often I will wear it, but I cherish it for its sheer extravagance and chicness.

My next investment… will probably be a collection of limited edition chairs, if I can find what I really want for our home.

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My last memorable trip was to… Ah well, I am Greek, so of course it was to a tiny unspoiled Greek island that only the locals know about and which can only be reached by boat.

The thing I most look forward to coming back to is… sitting with my family, sharing our news, exchanging our views and enjoying a simple, slow dinner — the Greek way.

The last thing that surprised me about the city was… Brexit.

If I didn’t live in my city I would live in… Milan. I moved there at 17 to begin my architectural studies and fell in love with the force of art and design that permeates the city. It has remained my “second city” ever since. 

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