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Interview With Mark Rielly, Director of ARRCC, an Impressive Design Studio From South Africa

Interview With Mark Rielly, Director of ARRCC, an Impressive Design Studio From South Africa
ARRCC Project: Hotel Lumiere in Paris, France

ARRCC is a standout design studio! For us, ARRCC is one of the most impressive and powerful design studios based in Africa, but don’t take only our word on it. Just visit their WEBSITE and discover the incredible projects they have done so far and we believe you will draw the same conclusion. This acclaimed studio specializes in interior architecture, interior design and décor that redefines laid-back luxury.


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ARRCC Project: M34 South Africa


Based in Cape Town, ARRCC has also a global footprint, as it applies its distinctly refined design sensibility to residential, hospitality and leisure interiors around the world. As they describe on their own website,  “ARRCC’s ability to create smart spaces and authentic emotive experiences is attributed to its team’s highly personal work ethic, ceaseless curiosity, inherent intuition and obsession with challenging boundaries. Humble yet brutally honest, the studio drives dreams forward as it delivers exclusive interiors that respond to their architecture, context and environment.”


ARRCC Project: Venus 7 in South Africa


We’ve recently included ARRCC in our Top 100 Contemporary Designers list of 2020, and we couldn’t pass the opportunity of interviewing the leaders of this amazing driving force of design. We sat down with ARRCC Director Mark Rielly that explored the challenges, ambitions, creations and projects of this amazing design studio in a very interesting and powerful interview that will make you fall in love with the way this studio works and their team thinks all process of design. 


What do you love the most about what your work?

ARRCC is an international brand working extensively all over the world including destinations such as London, Paris, Miami, Moscow, New York, Sydney, Dakar, Barcelona, Ibiza, Dubai and Geneva. Being able to travel to all of these and many other destinations is a real privilege and a highlight of our work life. Each region has its own culture and heritage and discovering the nuanced, contemporary elements to incorporate into our designs, is a part of our design journey. Traveling and working with Clients from around the globe has afforded us the opportunities to immerse ourselves in the local art and vernacular.

What was the most challenging time in your career, and how did you overcome it?

Life is challenging, but as designers, we have the ability to make things more beautiful. Every day brings new challenges so no two days are ever the same, however I do try and make sure that I do something that inspires me each day. I find inspiration in the incredible work of current great designers around the world including Kelly Wearstler, Christophe Delcourt, Charles Zana, Vincenzo De Cotiis, Joseph Dirand and Axel Vervoordt.

The onset of Covid and lockdown has completely rocked everyone’s world and we see many friends and colleagues face extremely challenging times ahead. Fortunately for ARRCC, we have been able to tackle this challenge head-on and our diversity of projects in multiple cities across the globe, and with our remote working from Cape Town, we have been able to adapt to a ‘Work from Home’ model seamlessly. We already have various technologies in place such as cloud collaboration and resource management technologies, virtual reality software, Lux Walker, as well as various digital technologies that have enabled us to continue to collaborate with our colleagues and clients. We continue to work from home and look forward to continuing and developing a work from home scenario in the future.


ARRCC Project – Star 27 in the United States


Have you achieved everything you want in life? – What dreams are you still lingering on to?

As designers we are always creating and evolving. I don’t think you can ever get to a point where you say that this is your last design. There are many things that we have not yet designed or had the opportunity to work on and these certainly remain in our vision for future projects. Having worked on so many exclusive private residences, we are ready for our first jet and yacht.


What makes you feel fulfilled professionally?

Having achieved several prestigious accolades and nominations is always fulfilling however our greatest pride has been our transition from a small local South African interior design studio to a recognized brand in the international design arena. I love working with our team and am always amazed at the enthusiasm with which they tackle each project. Their energy and design skills are very motivating and seeing the growth and development of young designers is fulfilling.

I am also very inspired by our sister company, SAOTA and the extraordinary architectural work which they are doing internationally to create life-enhancing spaces for our clients that stay true to ARRCC’s core design philosophy.


ARRCC Project: Hotel Lumiere in Paris, France


How would you describe your relationship with your audience? Do you have a special way of communicating/advertising your work?

We focus on taking our audiences on our design journey with us, sharing behind-the-scenes process’s, concept sketches, renders and finally the completed project. We want our audiences to feel involved in and inspired by our work – creating meaningful stories that captivate and move. We have been creating a lot of video content in the form of Instagram Lives, and IGTV videos which has allowed us to interact with our audiences in real-time, allowing them to ask questions about the ARRCC brand.

Are you working on anything new at the moment? What’s the inspiration behind what you working on at the moment?

ARRCC is currently working on several luxury residential projects in Los Angeles, Miami, Australia, UAE and Africa. We also have some exciting hospitality projects that are in their beginning stages, and our initial design concepts have been extremely well received. We are very excited to see them develop within the coming months and to be made public to the discerning traveler. Each of these projects are unique and special and we are inspired by their location, as well as the collaborations we are developing with local artists and artisans.

Are all of your products designed by you? If you collaborate with another brand do you usually have your name on it?

We collaborate with a range of incredible local and international brands and craftsmen. We always recognize the brands that we work with in all our communications. We often work with our sister brand, OKHA on the design and development of curated furniture pieces. These do remain under the OKHA brand. When we collaborate with artists or other known brands, we often recognize that the pieces are being done by the brand or craftsperson. For many of our projects we enjoy working with local artists and craftsmen which allows contemporary furniture pieces to be designed that reference the heritage of a project’s location. Incorporating local fabrics and artworks ensures a heightened sense of place that speaks directly through perception and sensory experience.


ARRCC Project: Peninsula Store in Dubai

What would you say is the trend at the moment in the design world – creatively speaking?

There is an approach that is becoming more prevalent in recent architecture – the use of more tactile and natural elements. At ARRCC, this is reflected in the raw elements and finishes being used in our interior designs. The increased awareness of healthy lifestyles has also increased the demand for sustainably designed homes, with continued expansion in open plan living and inside/outside interaction. With the current Covid pandemic the word ‘home’ has become an important brief where Clients value the sense of creating spaces that are centered around family, a celebration of life and enjoyment of the simple pleasures. Clients want authentic design which also tells a story. Bespoke crafted and handmade pieces are all coveted.

How would you describe your client type? What do they do, what do they like, what projects are they involved in?

Working closely with our clients, we distill and transform their briefs to exceed original expectations – delivering a personal, one-to-one service. Although our design philosophy is true to ARRCC, we offer clients a flexible solution tailored to their individual preferences. We believe in the spirited crafting of unique interiors that captivate and move and that reflect both client and location. Our clients range from celebrities to high-net-worth individuals, to large luxury resorts and hotel chains.


ARRCC Project: City Villa in South Africa


When it comes to craftsmanship; who do you think is leading the way?

We are extremely inspired by leading international galleries that have propelled artists, makers and craftsmen to produce collectible design and furniture pieces. Such galleries include The Carpenters’ Workshop Gallery in London and locally in South Africa we have Southern Guild. All of their creative artists have an incredible body of work that is sought after. Personally, I am also huge fan of Vincenzo de Cotiis who is a phenomenal creator of collectible design, every piece he creates is unique and exceptional.

What do you think will be the focus in the design world in the future? – Any particular changes that you would like to see happening?

Good design right now is not about trend or style but about a design approach that fully analyses the context of a project and encompasses a design that optimizes all aspects of the site, views, climate, brief, budget and lifestyle. Digital technology is fast becoming a crucial design tool, transforming the way in which we conceive, design and deliver our spaces to clients. These technologies allow our clients to be totally immersed in their project from conception to completion. Considering the current global plastic waste crisis, it would be great to develop more recycling of plastics into luxury pieces that can be incorporated as iconic décor items and furniture pieces.

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