Interiors: Tara Bernerd looks back on her 15-year career designing hotels and elite residences around the globe

Laura Ivill
A lounge area in the Thompson Hotel in Hollywood

If there’s one imminent interiors project in London that we can’t wait to sneak a peek at, it’s the show apartments for One Park Drive, a Herzog and de Meuron-designed cylindrical tower taking shape in Canary Wharf.

It’s highly-anticipated, not just because the 472-apartment tower is one of the largest remaining undeveloped sites in the Docklands, but because Tara Bernerd is the lead interior architect.

Her firm, Tara Bernerd & Partners, specialises in “towers and penthouses”, hotels and private residences around the globe. Bernerd rattles off a list that includes the new Four Seasons in Fort Lauderdale, a project in Mexico with Belmond, a 3,000sqft private penthouse on Central Park South in New York and, in London, the historic Russell Hotel on Russell Square.

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“I always treat my hotel projects as if they are a home,” Bernerd says. “In Chicago, I used an incredible tile on the floor for the main restaurant and a friend rang up and asked how they could use that in their kitchen.”

The firm is 15-years-old next year and its most celebrated projects feature in a new book, Place, along with in-depth interviews with Bernerd herself. Looking through it, you sense that she has never had a flabby moment.

Property development is in her blood, after all – her father is the property tycoon Elliott Bernerd. With an energy that’s infectious and a knack for working with the best in the business, she is fired up by, seemingly, everything: “Retailers are doing incredible things. I might go into Celine and drool at their floor and their furniture,” she says of the fashion store.

Tara Bernerd

So what does she think will be emerging from the hotel world into our homes in 2017?

For guest bedrooms, we are losing the wardrobe. “In the smaller, cool hotels that we do we’re increasingly seeing the need for open wardrobes. This goes beyond a ‘clothes rack’ – the frameworks look structured, almost architectural, as with those from Ivano Redaelli. This can be a beautiful piece of furniture, even with clothes displayed, and it’s easier.”

She also sees this year’s mammoth trend for houseplants continuing to flourish in 2017, although she likes to emphasise that “less is more”. “In Florida, where we are doing the Four Seasons, we’ve got chic indoor wooden planting, almost Fifties style,” she says, citing as her inspiration for all things retro.

“If you put a fabulous wooden planter on powdered tiling, you bring layers to a room. For glazed pots, we use Houzz. When you have plant pots in the home, look for something crackled and beautifully glazed, in sage or grey.”

A lounge area at MY Orient Star designed by Bernerd

And, while there may be economic uncertainty ahead, at home it’s time for some bold decisions. “Confidence is really important in a home – bold colours, muted, honed, strong; perhaps navy-blue velvet fabrics with a dark wood floor and then a cream footstool as a contrast,” she muses. “There are no rules, it’s open to taste and interpretation.”

Place by Tara Bernerd is published on 21 February by Rizzoli (

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