In conversation with: Tom Rutt of TR Studio

Tom Rutt is the name behind architecture and interiors practice TR Studio. I’ve explored Tom’s projects on The Insider before, so I thought it was time to find out a bit more about Tom himself

What first drew you to a career in architecture? I always loved art and design from a young age and I originally wanted to becoming an artist as I loved to draw and paint. Whilst in secondary school we were tasked to compose an art essay on deconstructionist architects. I was captivated by the artistic and sculptural approach to architecture by the likes of Frank Gehry, who was at the time nearing completion of the Guggenheim in Bilbao. It was that one school assignment that completely influenced the direction of my career: the way form combined with the idea of creating something functional could improve people’s lives was something I just knew I wanted to explore.

Is your handwriting recognisable across your projects? We try not to but there are definitely some themes that run through our work. Our work is very much a team effort and that team is very diverse yet synchronised in the way we approach projects, the way we look at materials, craftsmanship and palettes etc. We veer towards a refined, contemporary luxury that has a crafted yet modernist approach to design, always paired with something that lifts it from minimalism in its purist sense to create something playful and uplifting. Simple, clear lines, but with a level of depth and character through the detailing or the materials themselves. As a studio our mission is to design as our clients live – with elegance, joy and personality – designing well-considered, meaningful schemes that combine comfort and delight.

TR Studio focuses on high-end bespoke, residential schemes

Do you primarily work on residential projects? I have worked across both residential and commercial design, but our studio, at the moment, focuses on high-end bespoke residential schemes in the UK and we are slowly developing into Europe. The practice encompasses architecture, interior design, project management, FF&E and most recently, bespoke furniture design – an ever-growing side to the business. We love crafting people’s homes and improving the way they live their lives. How they connect with a space, how they interact with it. To be able to transform a house into a home for someone is a really rewarding thing.

When faced with a new project, do you always have a particular starting point? It’s really important to us as a studio that we work collaboratively with clients on their project goals from the start. Every project is essentially about finding solutions, so we always start by sitting down with clients in their home. Our work starts with their story – we are inspired by how their daily life unfolds and how they live, and how it can be improved through design.

We believe the best spaces create a sense of familiarity and belonging. They enhance the everyday right down to the smallest detail so understanding what is important to them, what they like / dislike about their property or its layout, what they would like to achieve is vital.

Tom Rutt image in black and white
Tom says a school assignment ignited his interest in architecture

You provide both an architectural and interior design service. Do you think these two disciplines need to be considered together to create the best results? Absolutely. The Studio has built a reputation, which I am very proud of, for both our integrated approach to architecture and interiors and really listening to our clients. Beautiful spaces aren’t just physical – they’re a feeling and that is achieved harmoniously through both disciplines. Great design creates a sense of familiarity, comfort, and delight – where function and feeling are equal.

Are you putting systems in place to become more sustainable as a practice? As a studio we always look to use sustainable building materials and practices at all times. We would never simply choose an easy path, if it’s not the correct one. We firmly believe in building once and building it right, which is inherently sustainable from an embodied carbon perspective.

As time has gone on, the impact of our projects on energy use has also become more considered. We are currently building a new build annex in the countryside which is heavily insulated and powered by air source heat pump, and we are designing a large modern new build house in Hampstead which aims for super low energy use and is being designed close to passive house standards. We have found the key to this is to try and work with great consultants

Kitchen dining area by TR Studio
Refined, contemporary luxury best describes the TR Studio style

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career? It’s impossible to list just one, but we have recently started an internal TED talks within our TR Studio office where we present to each other our influences. Mine were a combination of artists and architects – Gary Hume, Ellsworth Kelly, Gehry, Enric Miralles…..

What is your favourite possession? I am not a huge one for possessions or over sentimentality, but I would say my children (who would rightly dispute that they are my possessions!). Everything else is replaceable.

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