x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

'I am fascinated by Islamic art'

q&a Patrick Gallagher is an ­interior designer based in the US who ­specialises in combining classic and contemporary design.

The interior designer Patrick Gallagher at the Royal Mirage Hotel in Dubai.
The interior designer Patrick Gallagher at the Royal Mirage Hotel in Dubai.

Patrick Gallagher is an ­interior designer based in the US who ­specialises in combining classic and contemporary design.

a I worked as a photo stylist in New York for 10 years and have always been interested in design. I was styling interiors for New York Magazine, as well as Laura Ashley and Waterford Crystal, which was great fun as each client had a different point of view. I then worked as director of visual merchandising for F Schumacher before deciding to start my own interiors business in 1993.

I specialise in high-end residential design. My style is a mixture of French country, English Regency, American federal and contemporary. I love classic, timeless design and don't tend to follow trends. I like recreating the 18th- and 19th-century look but not as a period set piece; instead, I like to break it up with contemporary lighting and comfortable seating.

I majored in buying, merchandising and marketing at the Fashion ­Institute of Technology in New York, so no, not specifically with regard to interiors, but my subsequent experience naturally led me in that direction.

I visited the UAE recently and was intrigued by what is happening here, so I decided to come back in order to explore business opportunities. I was mesmerised by the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi and the plans for the development of Saadiyat Island. Dubai is like Istanbul in its fusion of East and West; it's an exciting, energising place.

I am fascinated by Islamic art. I recently visited the Art of Islam exhibition at the Emirates Palace, which was incredible, and would love to incorporate some pieces with fine English antiques. I would like to increase the appreciation for English and French antiques and try to combine contemporary opulence with restrained sensibility. One of my strengths is mixing things, so throwing an antique carpet into a modern space or calming down an opulent room with contemporary lighting and an upholstered piece would be my way of creating a balanced look.

There are two which I have recently completed: one is an English ­antiques collector's home in the city; the look is elegantly classic and quite opulent, and the other is a comfortable seaside home, which is dotted with Swedish ­antiques and is much more casual. Both just worked perfectly and were completely in keeping with the client's vision.

There isn't anyone's in particular, but any place that is a blank canvas is incredibly exciting. In the UAE, where there are lots of cutting-edge projects taking shape, I would love to be involved in a new building from the start, liaising with the architect to create a contemporary home. Equally though, I enjoy working in classic spaces, so a villa in Italy, a penthouse in Manhattan or a ­town house in London would also be an amazing challenge.

I have always loved looking at beautiful things. Right now, I am staring at a pair of antique terracotta French country planters and ­wondering how I can incorporate them into one of my projects. I also love the interaction with the client. I like getting to know them and striving to make their home a ­reflection of their needs and wants.

The process of getting things done in accordance with yours and the client's vision can be frustrating, especially when the finished product is not what was promised. However, it's the nature of the business and I have my regular suppliers now, who I know are reliable.

I have an extremely exciting project at the moment, which is for a client who is in love with all things French country. They are building a house and filling it with antique tiles, floors and fireplaces, in order to create their very own French chateau in the middle of New Hampshire. I am also working on a penthouse on Central Park West in New York, which is in a fabulous 1920s building, so we are injecting lots of art deco glamour to really accentuate its history.