A Cosy Chalet in Switzerland

by Stacey Sheppard in Interior designed homes

When Sir Norman Foster sketched a concept design for a Swiss Chalet on the back of a napkin, it was Mark Howorth of multi-disciplinary interior design practice Callender Howorth who was commissioned to design the interior.

Situated high in the mountains above Villiars in Switzerland, Chalet Solais is an impressive project that was born out of the vision of one of the most prolific and prominent architects of our time. ‘The clients are good friends with Sir Norman Foster so when they found the perfect land they had dinner with Sir Foster who sketched out the concept for the chalet on the back of a napkin,’ says Mark explaining that his company had already designed homes for this client in London and San Francisco.

Mark’s ability to speak fluent French made him the ideal choice to work with the French practice that was to translate the sketches from Sir Foster into the chalet. But that was not as easy as it sounds and working with the French architects was a challenge in itself.

As is evident from the stunning final result, these difficulties did not stand in the way of success. Although Mark says: ‘The challenge was to keep the designs true to the vision of Sir Foster but also keep the main team motivated and part of the general vision.’

‘The house also had to be filled with smart technology and the latest must-have gadgets, including a home cinema, as the client is in the electronics business.’


But what was the vision exactly? Well, this house was the client’s dream home and it was important that it was impressive but also a warm space for family and friends. ‘The house also had to be filled with smart technology and the latest must-have gadgets, including a home cinema, as the client is in the electronics business,’ says Mark.

In order to create an interior that truly reflected the style of the client, Callender Howorth spent time getting to know them and understand what makes them tick. It was this knowledge that helped to inform the choice of fixtures, fittings and furnishings that were incorporated into the chalet.

‘Furnishings were sourced internationally,’ says Mark.  ‘The custom chandelier was made by George Saunders Singer who makes amazing things and is a true boffin. The copper plates in the chandelier were difficult for him to get the perfect finish. So he tied 10 samples to the back of his Land Rover and drove around the countryside to see what would happen – it worked and this created the perfect finish.’

In fact, lighting had a huge role to play in the overall feel of the project and was an integral part of creating a cosy feel in a space that has such high ceilings. ‘We spent lots of time getting the lighting design perfect,’ says Mark explaining that this made a huge difference to the ambience of the spaces.

Creating a feeling of warmth in a property with floor to ceiling glass could have also been a challenge but the fact that the house is flooded with natural light gives the space a sense of warmth. The use of wood only serves to enhance this feeling and also helps to create a sense of wellbeing in the space.

Lots of local oak and stone were used in the project and Mark says he focused on working with local craftsmen and suppliers. In fact he says this was his favourite element of the project. ‘Dealing with the local Swiss craftsmen was a joy and privilege.’

For more information on Callender Howorth visit www.callenderhoworth.com and follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook

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