Nick Candy understands what rich people want.
The 38-year-old Londoner and his younger brother, Christian, 36, have forged an international business based on luxury, decadence and catering to the whims of the world's wealthiest people. The Candy brothers' brand has become synonymous with lavish penthouses, oversized yachts and the jet set.
"A lot of people don't deliver the product they want," Mr Candy said, trying to explain the secrets to catering to the super rich.
"They want to have make-up fridges in the master bath for the ladies. Fur fridges in the wardrobes."
That is "fur fridges" as in refrigerators for fur coats. From swimming pools that turn into ballrooms to the latest in eyeball-scanning high-tech security, the Candys specialise in designing homes that deliver the opulence, gadgetry and perks that their clients demand.
The brothers made their reputation in the go-go days of the turn of the century, when Russian oligarchs and rich Arabs were pouring into London, ready and willing to spend for the best.
At first they were known as designers focused on buying and renovating flats in London's wealthiest suburbs. Eventually they moved into creating their own projects, most recently One Hyde Park, the development in Knightsbridge that opened last month. It is said to be the most expensive apartment development in the capital's history.
They suffered a few spectacular failures during the economic downturn. But Mr Candy scoffs at speculation in the UK press that the brothers are struggling.
"Today as a group we're very cash rich and we're looking at more big projects," he said.
The brothers owe a big chunk of their success to close ties to the Middle East. One Hyde Park was developed by a partnership of Christian Candy's Guernsey-based CPC Group and a company led by the Qatar prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, a staunch supporter.
They've also become frequent visitors to the UAE.
The Candys' design company recently renovated a "massive" villa in Dubai's Emirates Hills and is working on "several" houses of more than 25,000 square feet in the emirate, as well as "one or two smaller apartments".
"That's what Candy & Candy's big business is, designing houses, yachts, chalets, boats, planes for private clients," he added.
The brothers famously enjoy the same lavish lifestyle as their clients. They are often photographed on their superyacht Candyscape II or in one of the luxury homes they own around the world.
Mr Candy's recent itinerary included a trip to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, and a weekend skiing in nearby St Moritz. Now, he is off to Los Angeles for the Academy Awards with his girlfriend, the actress Holly Valance.
While not exactly rags to riches, the Candys' tale has already been told so many times it has become the stuff of legend. They started in 1995 with a £6,000 (Dh35,642) loan from their grandmother, which they used to buy a flat in London's Earls Court.
They renovated and sold the apartment at a profit, a business model they followed for several years, gradually moving into the city's most exclusive suburbs.
Their roots, however, were far removed from the jet set. Their father was an entrepreneur who founded an advertising production company in Surrey, their mother a Greek Cypriot housewife and drama teacher.
When they first started buying and selling property, Nick was working for an advertising agency and Christian was manning a desk at an investment bank. But they soon were moving in the upper echelons of high society, mingling with billionaires and royalty.
Clients included the pop star Kylie Minogue, the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and India's Mittal family.
"In the end we were in that lifestyle," Mr Candy said. "We were hanging out in the same restaurants, going to the same parties, holidaying in the same locations and we became friends."
The brothers' friends include the TV producer Simon Cowell, the Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, the Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn, Britain's Prince Andrew and Prince Albert of Monaco.
Their sibling relationship is a source of fascination. Many observers marvel at how well they work together and their ability to know each other's thoughts. Others have compared them to the Kray twins, the notorious London gangsters of a half century ago.
The Candys are famously combative with vendors and contractors, known for strictly enforcing contracts and refusing to pay if work is not completed to their satisfaction. "We're tough on ourselves; we're tough on everyone," Christian once told a reporter.
"Chris and I used to argue like hell," Mr Candy said. "We used to fight, proper fisticuffs. Even as teens we argued." At the core they are very different, he said.
Christian is "very, very conservative. Very, very structured. A very different design look," he added. "I'm a bit more eclectic in my style and probably a bit more eccentric as well." And Christian is "probably more stubborn than me. He would agree with it. But then he'd say that's because he's right."
Today they still "debate," but the focus is on business, Mr Candy said. "Because we run a business together, we'll come to a decision that is the best thing for the business."
Over the years, their business approach and publicity machine - the photo spreads posing with their yachts and Ferraris - have drawn more than a few smirks. "The sight of great swathes of London being carved up to suit the whims of foreign multimillionaires offends some," London's Evening Standard opined.
Yet it is undeniable they helped to bring a new youthful glamour to the ancient capital, reviving it as the place to be and be seen for the global glitterati.
"I think overall the impact that the Candys have had has been positive," said Alex Michelin, the director of Finchatton, a rival developer. "They have driven up values in London in a good way. They created a huge buzz about London."
But they have had failures, too. NoHo Square, a much discussed redevelopment project in central London, never happened, after the market collapsed in 2008.
A deal with Iceland's Kaupthing Bank to develop a 3.2 hectare plot in Beverly Hills, California, fell apart in spectacular fashion, after the bank collapsed. The partnership paid US$500 million (Dh1.83 billion) for the site, at the top of the market. Last year it was valued at $200m.
"My brother and I hadn't done our due diligence on Beverly Hills," Mr Candy said. "We thought we could do the condo market or the apartment market like you could do in London or New York, Hong Kong."
Their plan to redevelop London's Chelsea Barracks property caused something of an international scandal. Prince Charles publicly condemned the modern design that was produced. Under pressure, Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment, the Candys' partner, withdrew from the project.
The Candys sued Diar, claiming breach of contract. They won a court judgment and the case has now been settled and their relationship mended, Mr Candy added.
None of the setbacks was lethal to their business, he insists.
"We've been very lucky we sold some things prior to the credit crunch," he said. "Also since the credit crunch we've done some very good business."
In 2008, as the market started to fold, they sold their stake in a joint venture to redevelop two Kensington hotels in London to investors from Abu Dhabi, earning a £100m profit, according to published reports.
Last year Christian Candy sold a 30-room Monaco villa to an undisclosed buyer for £199m, believed to be the most money ever spent for a single residence.
The property, which served as the home address for both brothers, was once owned by financier Edmond Safra and it is where he died in a fire in 1999.
The younger Mr Candy is reported to have paid £100 million for the villa. Mr Candy declined to comment on the sale.
He does, however, acknowledge that the brothers are doing business differently these days. Once famous for using little of their own money in deals, they are now looking at new ways to structure transactions.
"The old days of 8 to 9 per cent leverage to buy a piece of real estate are long gone," he said. "You wouldn't get a billion pounds speculative loan today to do a residential project in central London."
But he is ready to expand and sees New York and Hong Kong as likely targets for new developments.
To raise capital, the brothers are trying to sell the three retail spaces in One Hyde Park, currently occupied by Rolex, a showroom for the new McLaren sports car, and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank's first London outlet. The price tag: £50.4m.
They are also diversifying. The Candys recently launched a financial services company. And Christian Candy is working to take a mining company private.
But their main focus is still on the rich, creating homes with golf simulators and champagne cellars to satisfy their clients' desires.
"I think they have got more demanding not less demanding," Mr Candy said.