Firstly, let me introduce you to our new interview series ‘A Day in the Life Of’. As my readers know, this blog was founded on interviews with interior designers and an insight into their aesthetic and inspirations behind their designs. However after 2 years of this format we feel that ‘A Day in the Life of’ will be an interesting insight into a side of the industry not explored very often and i’m exciting to delve into the daily lives of some of the industries best. To kick off this series i’d like you introduce you to Sam McNally, the Design Director and co-founder of Echlin. He will introduce us to his company and take us through a normal day for him.
Echlin is a London based design and development company founded with a collective approach to the various disciplines involved with creating a place to live. We work on client commissions as well as projects for our own sales portfolio. I co-founded the company in 2011 with my business partner and former global fashion executive, Mark O’Callaghan. I manage the creative side of the business, driving Echlin’s design ethos.
I tend to leave my east London home at this time. Typically I’ll set my alarm about an hour and a half before this. As we tend to work late I like to ease my way into the day with an element of calmness. This involves a cappuccino (I couldn’t live without my Gaggia coffee machine) and listening to music. I’m currently drinking the Modern Standard’s Momentum Blend which is delicious in a milky coffee. My morning playlist is usually chilled, soulful and electronic. This morning I played Onra’s “Fundamentals” album.
Breakfast is an important meal for me, so it’s never rushed. I usually go for some kind of NutriBullet concoction involving ginger, and a slice or two of Vogel bread often with avocado or tomatoes and olive oil. Over breakfast I’ll look at my diary to see what the day has in store and spend some time reading emails.
Most day’s start with visiting one or two of our sites to check general project progress, usually with a member of the design team and we’ll be there to answer any site queries, resolve inevitable issues or meet suppliers. By 11am I’ll either be heading onto other meetings in town or making my way into our studio in Chelsea. All of our team are big tea and fresh coffee lovers, and we seem to have adopted a rather strict drinks making roster. If I do get to the studio for around 11am, architect Scott is normally on duty!
Lunchtime is never the same for me, it really depends where my meetings and the day takes me. If I’m near our recently completed Holland Park project, I’ll either grab something from Lidgate butchers or one of the nice Italian delis, La Piccola or Speck. If I’m in Notting Hill for speed it’s often Pret or Paul. We’ve just started a couple of new projects in Knightsbridge and St Pancras, so looking forward to discovering some new lunch spots.
The afternoon is usually the time which I will spend with our architects and designers going through project related matters. I also try and dedicate at least an hour around this time to deal with emails. A backlog of unread messages gives me anxiety so it’s important to stay on top of them! We have a very passionate design team, and with a lot of different disciplines in house, there are lots of different viewpoints. Occasionally our discussions get heated, but sometimes that’s when the best solutions are found.
Towards the end of the day I’m often out and about again either on business development or general business matters. Today I was discussing an exciting collaboration with a company unfortunately I cannot mention at this stage. We really enjoy working with other designers and creatives, sharing ideas and platforms, particularly if they also specialize in British craftsmanship and local sourcing. Recently, we’ve worked with the likes of The New Craftsmen, Ettinger and Richard Brendon. In our next project, we’ve designed a carpet with exclusive rug designer and maker Lady Deirdre Dyson, inspired by Kensington Gardens which is close by the residence.
For our own development projects we have investors so I will be involved in keeping them up to date on project status, this comprises of meetings and presentations. If we have a finished project available to view then we will dedicate quite a lot of time to making the most of this and showing prospect clients what we do and how we do it. In the past we have also shown young design students around our projects, who have approached us through Instagram and email, but unfortunately we don’t always have time.
Weekday evenings vary but they frequently involve Echlin related matters. Quite often I will go to industry events or networking opportunities, or project and product launch parties. Echlin are members of the Walpole (an alliance supporting British luxury brands and craft), who regularly put on really insightful events including seminars, talks and dinners. The members vary from fashion brands to luxury car manufacturers so it’s interesting to meet professionals from different industries who share similar clients. My favourite place for a drink with a client or investor has to be Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood. On other evenings I will get myself to the gym and try to find any opportunity to catch up with friends, more so now the weather is improving. I love London’s outdoor culture in the summer. As a food lover, I’m always drawn to good eateries and street food markets, favourites of which include Maltby Street in Bermondsey and Broadway Market in Hackney.