An interview with Charlie Turner, ASID, NCIDQ, Director of Interior Design

Charlie Turner photo
Charlie Turner

Charlie Turner was on his way to law school when he made the life-altering decision to give it a try first, as a paralegal. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that being an attorney wasn’t going to adequately challenge his creative side. The rest, as they say, is history. Charlie went back to school, deciding instead to turn a childhood spent around construction sites (his father was in the business), an artistic passion (he’s been painting since grade school) and a keen interest in hospitality design (he’s a self-described restaurant junkie) into a career as an interior designer.

CR: As an interior designer, what appeals to you most about working with clubs?

CT: Two things, I’d say.  The variety of spaces — you can be working on a fitness center one day, an entry vestibule the next…dining spaces, bars, locker rooms…it always keeps me interested and engaged. And I really like the interaction with members. These folks are emotionally engaged and interested in the project outcome, which makes it a really rewarding experience for a designer.

CR: You bring a lot of different experiences to clubs, having worked with retail, mixed use, hospitality, commercial and other environments.  How do those influences affect your approach to club design?

CT: Clubs are a blend between commercial, residential and hospitality that, together, have to evoke a certain feel and perform at a high level.

CR: Who (or what) has been the greatest influence on your design approach and style?

Sagamore Hotel, Miami
Sagamore Hotel, Miami

CT: Boutique hotels — what Ian Shrager has done, places like the Sagamore Hotel in Miami. How they treat you, how the places make you feel, how music and food blend with the interiors…everything blends together to create an experience that engages you.  And that it’s all part of the hotels’ brands…that intrigues me.

CR: Tell us a building interior you looked at and simply said, “Wow.”

CT: The East Gallery of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  When I first stepped into it, it became a turning point in my life. That an environment can make you feel a certain way — that’s why I chose interior design. It’s also why I like restaurant design — that sense of drama.

CR: You mentioned restaurant design.  From a design perspective, tell us three of your favorite restaurants.

Rogue 24
Rogue 24

CT: Rogue 24 in Washington, DC — everything about it is part of its brand.  The entrance is hidden; you have to go down an alley. Small little windows on the outside let you…peek in…then you enter into a big open warehouse. River Café in London is very minimalist, a big open space that is all about the views of the river. And Plume at the Jefferson Hotel in DC (full/fun disclosure: Charlie was one of the designers of Plume; it’s a favorite not a sales plug, he assures us!). It’s traditional with a contemporary twist.

CR: What is sitting on your desk right now that inspires you?

Zimmer + Rhode fabrics
Zimmer + Rhode fabrics

CT: A book on the best European hotels and several Zimmer + Rohde fabric swatches. We don’t get to use them (they’re very expensive), but they’re great inspiration — great textures and color.

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