Iconic Surrey architecture at the height of luxury property
PUBLISHED: 14:44 23 May 2014 | UPDATED: 15:10 23 May 2014
From architecture and building to interior design, the team at Iconic has designed houses at some of the county's most prestigious addresses - from the Crown Estate at Oxshott to St George's Hill. Here, we catch up with senior partner Andrew Long to find out more...
Tell us about your background...
I wanted to be an architect from the age of eight, and pursued that with the ups and downs of exam failures, but got there in the end. I did the seven years at university with one year in Philadelphia as a university swap. I was always experimental at university with my presentation skills, trying oil paints, acrylics and lots of other things for projects. When I left university, I worked on shopping centres for a few years but felt very unfulfilled creatively, so I then left to work in a small Guildford practice designing houses. Years later, in 2010, I found my dream job in designing luxury housing at Iconic and being my own boss.
Despite being a relatively young company though, you have already worked on many of the county’s most prestigious addresses...
Yes, I have designed about 25 houses in the Crown Estate for my private clients and developers, as well as 11 at St George’s Hill, 18 in Burwood Park and 10 at Wentworth, plus many, many more in the surrounding areas. Resales have been in excess of half a billion pounds… frightening!
You have also worked with some very high profile clients – from celebrities to leading property developers. Is there a project in Surrey of which you are particularly proud?
Yes, Swallows’ Drift in Oxshott, which was a lot of fun to design as it looked very different from everything else I had been doing. They are all different in their own way and each client brings their own personality to a job. I’m currently designing a very modern house in Weybridge, which has been very challenging, and I will be proud when I get planning on that one.
Your company is known for its great craftsmanship; do you have a favourite furniture brand yourself?
No real favourites; I just like good design and a homely feel really. The classic Barcelona chair and Corbusier’s LC4 chaise longue are design classics, but after a hard day of sitting in an office chair, I’d rather have some beaten up leather chair I can slouch in and watch a comedy or a good classic movie with a glass of wine.
What’s the most popular style of new home in Surrey?
Neo-Georgian, but this is more down to ceiling heights and large windows – people don’t want to live in gloomy houses – but, personally, I love arts and craft and oak frame houses. As much as modern is fun to design, it still frightens most people in the UK as we can’t get away from the Englishman’s castle style and things always needing to be old. The funny thing is, most of my clients who want modern houses are in their 50s and 60s. Their kids have left home and they are decluttering their lives. They want lots and lots out of life, but not necessarily massive houses. A well-designed modern house doesn’t date, but a badly designed one dates very, very fast.
Are you influenced at all by any of Surrey’s historic designers; Edward Lutyens; Gertrude Jekyll etc?
Edwin Lutyens would be one of my influences along with Charles Voysey and Philip Webb. The neo-Georgian styles are influenced by John Nash. I’m also inspired generally by observations I make when travelling around London and other architecturally interesting cities.
And you also do quite a lot of work on ‘investment architecture’. Tell us more about that...
Most of my clients are looking at housing as long-term investment due to the crisis in the banking world since 2008. In the Surrey and London areas, there are millions to be made in building the right house in the right area. Since 2004, the houses in the right areas have quadrupled in value, with more and more investment coming in from Asia and Russia. Homes are investments like bonds or shares.
What’s the most outlandish project you have worked on?
A house in Wentworth that had a basement larger than most people’s houses, with a four-lane bowling alley, large indoor pool, cinema, virtual golf rooms and a huge aquarium with some mini sharks in. Also, the swimming pool had glass walls onto the garage so that you could look at your classic Ferraris whilst swimming (not with the sharks I might add…).
What would be your top tip for readers thinking about starting their own interior design project?
Keep it simple and don’t try too many things at once; simple is often the best way forward. Chanel’s little black dress is often quoted as the epitome of good design.
Describe your own home to us...
We’re currently renting a thatched cottage in the Surrey sticks, until we can find a plot to develop. My own style of house would be more like a Swiss ski chalet. I love the rustic use of wood and stone, but would need to give it a contemporary twist with the use of lots of glass and light as views are very important. It would also disappear into the landscape and blend with nature, but I like to think that some of my houses will survive for many years to come as testament to my work.
• Iconic, Quadrant House, 7-9 Heath Road, Weybridge KT13 8SX. Tel: 01932 379307; e-mail email@example.com; web: iconic-ad.com
A man of many talents
As well as being an architect, Andrew Long is also a talented artist too...
“I have been a keen artist from a very young age,” says Andrew. “My GCSE maths book would prove that by the fact there were more sketches in the back than equations!
“I find art very relaxing and disappear into my own world – my wife says she could walk by naked when I am painting and I wouldn’t notice!
“When I paint, I generally use acrylic over oils as I have five kids and don’t trust any of them not to touch, so use a medium that dries fast! Oils are more flexible and give you the chance to alter things as you go along, so more forgiving in some regards.
“I tried sculpture a few years ago as I wanted to do something different. I specialised in figurines and loved it; it’s given me an idea for bronze garden sculptures in the future, but I’ve yet to find the time with being an architect, dad, husband and taxi driver…”
Surrey’s gated estates
Luxury living at the Wentworth Estate: home to royalty, business tycoons and Sir Bruce Forsyth
Elmbridge’s gated estates - St George’s Hill, Burwood Park and Whittets Ait Island
Inside Purley’s Webb Estate