Having been in the industry for more than 15 years, Rawlings is now the creative director for the London-based interior design firm David Collins Studio.The studio's portfolio spans across the globe andcovers different areas such as retail, residence and hospitality, with a strong focus on luxury. Rawlings has ledcreative internationalprojects including Alexander McQueen stores, Harrods Shoe Heavenand Hong Kong's Aqua bar.
Rawlings has taken the idea of an observatory and turned it into a multipurpose space of indulgence. "The space will be multifunctional - a place of joy and an escape from the city and everyday life," he says.
The three-level dome-structured observatory features a home cinema, a planetarium, a karaoke bar and a lounge to enjoy cigars with the observatory roof and glazed roof open. Rawlings has chosen an automated dome structure from Pier-Tech and an Astro-Physics mount to keep the Carbon Tube Telescope from RC Optical Systems in place.
"We imagine the owner to be an urban dweller with a passion for stargazing, lunar observing, deep-space observing and astrophotography," Rawlings says. "He's a connoisseur of all things fine."
The exterior of the observatory is designed to blend in with the surroundings. The glazed dome allows natural light to stream in during the day.
At night, the automated and computer-controlled dome retracts when the telescope is being used.
"The observatory is energy-efficient - it uses [and stores] solar power," Rawlings explains.
The lower level is a planetarium with seating which allows up to 12 guests to view the telescope's findings at the same time. A ramped perimeter walkway leads to the mezzanine level, where seats can elevate into viewing position. The roof of the upper level will open to allow clear viewing, with the observer in full control through smart tablets.
A cocktail bar and a wine cellar can be incorporated into the structure for the owner to entertain guests. Wrapped around the mezzanine level, the humidor and wine cellar create a focal point. "We [have designed] a humidity- and temperature-controlled environment in this area for storing cigars and wines," Rawlings says.
For those who wish to further their understanding of the cosmos, the library on the floor above is stocked with a rare collection of books as well as a beautiful globe by Bellerby and Co.
The observatory's interior design concept is inspired by the works of French architect and designer Pierre Chareau, famous for his utilitarian aesthetics with a touch of luxury. Wall panels featuring straw marquetry by Yann Jallu lend the space a touch of soothing tranquillity, while astrology-themed artworks by local artists line the curving staircase.
In addition to straw marquetry, the finishes revolve around a combination of palm wood, gun metal, gold plating, navy calf leather and woven linens, mixed with contrasting elements such as sail fabrics, cellular transparent acrylics, poured rubber and cork, found primarily in non-design related processes.
"I want the setting to be sexy and modern but at the same time [functional and utilitarian]," Rawlings says. "Colour is initially stripped away. The space will be fitted with only the natural form of the materials. However, indigo dyed fabrics will [provide texture and patterns], making it unique."
Vintage furniture such as Alfred Roth drinks trolley for Embru from the 1930s and a Marcel Pamond prototype chaise longue from the '60s will be placed alongside modern yet classic creations such as a steel and leather sofa from Haldane Martin.
Designed with the very nature of stargazing in mind, Rawlings envisions creative ways to make the experience more enjoyable and social-friendly.
"Stargazing can sometimes take hours to actually see results," Rawlings says. "Our tech-ready observatory is equipped with software from ACP, which provides computerised automation of the telescope."
The social aspect of the space is highlighted, the designer adds.
"People stargaze for many reasons, and astrophotography is a major one. With this observatory, the owner will be able to document his findings, share them with his loved ones, and become an artist himself."
Illustration: David Collins Studio
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