Asetti Architects, James Bond and The Secret of Luxury Design

By Julie Howard

An interview with luxury designer Chris Asetti.

In April of this 2015 I was lucky enough to meet up with possibly the most elusive designers in the world today. Chris Asetti, who 3 years ago set up the luxury designer brand ‘Asetti’, rarely gives interviews and prefers the life of lone renegade. In a very short time span, Asetti made headlines soon gaining a deserved reputation as one of the World’s most exciting new luxury house designer brands. Asetti stunned the real estate world in 2014 when they showcased their spectacular design of  ‘The James Bond’ home ‘Utopia’ in London’s Art of Design Magazine.

This continued on with more amazing super home designs, awesome concepts and a dedication to reinventing the super home and the indulgence in luxury villas.

Asetti is still relatively an intimate experience with Chris involving himself in all projects. His tight team of amazing designers and architects pool their talents producing some of the most fantastic work in the world today.

I asked one of the design team, where do the ideas come from and what is it like working with Chris.

“First ideas normally always come from Chris  and then we develop them together.  He works in a very unique way, like no other designer I know. He will have a dream, or go quiet for several hours, then out of it comes the ideas. He sees it in his mind. I think he paints a picture and we are his brushes. I guess he was born with it. But his background, I think also helps. He has a great understanding of history, philosophy, art, design, imagery and many subjects. He writes songs too and I think this all helps him create in his mind’s eye.”

So you enjoy working with him?

“Oh yes, very much. It is magic at work!

I was then taken to meet Chris. I could hear the music as we left the lift. A knock at the door and it soon opened and I was greeted by a smiling face.

“Hi. I am Chris. How was your trip.” After some polite welcomes we sat down for a chat.

I guess he likes the Rolling Stones, as it was blasting through the room. On the computer a latest design. Which he quickly closed off. “Sorry the client is particularly private and I promised not to show it to anyone.”

It is not long before you feel so at home with this guy. He is so cool. A cheeky smile and polite gestures. He soon made me a cup of tea with honey and I was curled on his sofa feeling as if I had known  him for years.

JH: “I was talking to Surathep and he was saying you see some of the buildings and houses in dreams or in your mind. Then they help interpret what you see.  How does that happen? How do you design such amazing buildings? Is it hard work?”

CA: “ahhh…….. Chris says with a smile. “It’s my secret. Art, music, design, spirituality…dreams…it’s all connected you know. A house or a building is like sculpture or a song. You have to develop it. There has to harmony in the design. It needs moulding with passion, soul and spirit. Nothing truly great comes from little work or little thought. You have to put your heart and soul into it.  Yes, it is hard work. I could not do it without my marvelous team. They are brilliant. Suppose it is similar to a rock band. You have your guitarist, bass, drums, lead. Then the front man. Together they create. Orchestra and a conductor similar process.

Chris wanders off into his mind, pauses gazing at me for a moment or two…… “All about connection with the team member you are working with, naturally the client and the project. You have to have that, or it will just develop into something obtuse or unimaginative. It is my job, my responsibility to breath life into the project.

JH: You dreamt the now famous James Bond style House, “Utopia”. Did you know it would end up the most expensive new house designs in the world?

CA: “Is that what they say? Are you Sure? Hmmm.. No, I did not even  think about the cost. It was one of those dream projects. It was created without any regard for a budget. I was asked to design a home like nothing else. Like something the Villain in a James Bond might live in. Left it for a few days and then Bam! It happened. Just all poured out. The architect was great and we worked tirelessly to get it right. How much they say it would cost to build?”

JH: “I had heard $250 million. How did you get ideas for that?”

CA: ” Wow. That’s a lot of dollars. Utopia was a dream home. A super home to beat all super homes. I loved doing it as there were no restrictions. But it’s a complex house with a heck of a lot of crazy features. Shame it has not been built yet.

The inspiration shot from everywhere. It was the old James Bond movie’s mixed in with a little of Egypt, a little 60’s and a trip I had to some uninhabited tropical islands.”

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JH: Why was it not built?

CA: Not 100% sure. It still can be and I would love to get it done. I still own all the copyrights so maybe someone else will pick up the gauntlet. James Bond Home for sale ! And it won’t cost $250 million buts he as hell will be the most spectacular modern home the world has ever seen. Satisfaction guaranteed.  ” Chris says with cheeky chuckle.

JH: “It has been said Asetti is one of the best team of architects and design teams in the world. How do you respond to that accolade.”

CA: ” With a degree of embarrassment, thanks and humility. I have never been comfortable with the word ‘best”, as there are other great designers out there and who determines who is the best. In what and for what? We are definitely different and do our best for the client. As for the best…… well…. I will let others be the judge of that, “Chris smiles.  “I am just thrilled people dig what we do. Very proud of the works we do for people.”

JH: “You are very conscious of the fact, buildings cost money and it’s the customers’ money. You are known for the genuine respect for the customer. But you designed a home that some say would cost $250 million to build. Kind of a contradiction or not?”

CA: “Oh no. Costs are relative.  What is expensive for one person, is not to another. Utopia had no budget. I was asked to just create without any restrictions. So it’s a one off.  Many of the homes we  design  would cost to build anywhere from $750,000 to $25 million or more. But it’s down to the client, not me. You design what you are asked for and I am lucky as many of my clients are not as restricted by budgets as most. Yes, they are of course conscious of cost, but getting the best design is the most important part to them.”

Most of my clients have worked very hard to have the money they have and I respect that. So how I spend it on a home or a project means a lot to me. Yet you also have to give them what they want and that costs money. But all in all its a friendship, a bond to work together to create something spectacular.  When the chemistry is right… its amazing.”

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JH: “I know you love fashion and music. You love to read and travel. You follow the creative community worldwide. Also, I heard you read three books a week… it an obsession?”

CA: ” Where did you hear that? Hmmm.. I wouldn’t say obsessed….excited by it and fascinated by it yeah… The creative world is so thrilling. The people so interesting. You know…its constantly changing. Reinventing itself, mutating and metamorphosing…Yeah I try to indulge my senses as much as possible. I love clothes. My favourite t -shirt brands are Kamimura and Ryu Koizumi.  Fashion magazines have some of the finest photographic images around.  They create a dream. Got a lot of respect for the photographer and designers. Reading is something I have done since I was young. Used to read three books a week for sure. Bit less now as I do not have the time, but still adore to read. Expands the mind.”

JH: “Favourite authors?”

CA: “A lot. Kind of dig  Jung, Byron, Shelley, Wade Davis, Gary Lachman, Coleridge, Hunter S Thompson… many really…….anything that captures my imagination. Well written books nourish the soul.”

I drank the last of my delicious coffee and made my way to the door. Chris kindly got up, opened it for me and with a big smile, gave me a hug and out I went. Chris Asetti certainly creates a great atmosphere. Like an old friend he was humble, funny, warm and reflective. I have no doubt on another level and a true artist at work. Thank Chris it was my pleasure to meet you.