Nicholas Haslam Ltd was established in 1980 by Nicky Haslam, who owned and operated the company in partnership with Paolo Moschino. Paolo bought the firm in 1995 when Nicky Haslam left to launch NH Design, and Paolo has since grown the company, which he now leads with Philip Vergeylen, into one of the most prominent and respected names in the design world.
Though Paolo and Philip are equally passionate about design, neither of them set out to be a designer. Born and raised in Italy, Paolo studied Political Science in Florence. It was at the age of 23, after university, that he came to stay in London for a few months. He ended up running an interiors shop—and never left.
Philip, who was born and raised in Belgium, says his parents gave him three choices of profession: doctor, banker or lawyer. However, during his first year at university, he found ten years’ worth of a design magazine in his grandmother’s library and eagerly read every issue cover to cover. (This might have been a clue to his real interests.) After studying Commercial Management Engineering in Brussels, Philip began an accomplished career in marketing in the financial-services sector which took him to far-flung spots across the globe.
Philip eventually settled in London, met Paolo and started to help him with some interior design projects. Not long after, Philip’s passion and natural instinct for design began to influence the direction of the firm, and over the past decade, his work has been pivotal to the company’s growth. Now leading the Design Studio, he oversees numerous residential, hospitality and commercial projects around the world.
Paolo and Philip designed their first apartment together 25 years ago, which has since been photographed and published in countless top design magazines. People—customers and friends—would visit the apartment, and then go to the shop that Paolo owned to ask, “Won’t you please do my house?” That’s how the design business launched, expanding organically. Today the firm has projects on every continent.
Together, with their exceptional eye for detail, Paolo and Philip oversee all aspects of the company’s business. They are always studying, always absorbing, always looking at design, art and architecture. For them, design isn’t a job, it’s their life.
They are a perfect partnership because they tend to look at things from different perspectives, but in the end, they always find the right balance. When Philip is off on a creative whirlwind, with ideas sparking in every direction, Paolo will be there to keep his feet on the ground. What is most important to the pair is to keep a spirit of openness and optimism.
They take the business of design and decoration very seriously, but also as serious fun!
The design style of Nicholas Haslam Ltd has continued to evolve over the years. Whilst the firm was initially grounded in the principles of English design, the worldly aesthetic of Paolo and Philip has brought a more international point of view to its projects. The partners also have a clear vision: It’s essential to establish the difference between interior design and simply furnishing a house. They like to create the bones, to think about the interior architecture, to consider how everything works together.
Architecture takes a great deal of effort, should be perfect and look perfect; interior design requires equal amount of effort and should be perfect, yet never look perfect. Perfection in architecture is beautiful, but when it comes to interior design, it can lack personality and look very sterile. Paolo and Philip are consistently drawn to the idiosyncratic—interiors that are elegant but with an unexpected twist. They are always hoping to create that special element of surprise and humour.
“Well-Travelled Interiors,” the subtitle of our book, Signature Spaces, perfectly describes what we create. Whilst travelling the world, we derive inspiration from every conceivable angle and we translate these ideas and discoveries into our in-house product collections and clients’ design schemes.
The maxim that good pieces will work together is true also for furniture; you can put an eighteenth-century commode alongside two 1950s armchairs, and it will look great if each item has integrity. Our tastes tend towards antique and vintage furniture, rather than contemporary pieces, although we frequently commission custom-made pieces.We also love the crafts of upholstery, boiserie, carpentry and metalwork. People are constantly coming up with new materials and technology and new ways to work with older materials, which we find so exciting!
These innovations inspire us, but so do books, travel, artworks and people. Sometimes the way someone describes a house in a novel or memoir makes you feel you can almost see and smell its interiors. Or it can be a piece of art—Philip has an enduring memory of an abstract white sculpture by the French-German artist Jean Arp that he saw floating on a lake when he was 12 years old. For him, this was the discovery of pure beauty, and of an emotion that he tries to recapture in his work. Discovering these moments—whether it’s an object, a scene, or a colour that really speaks to you—that’s the essence of our work. Our work is inspired by emotion.
The firm has won numerous awards, including being named to the AD100, Architectural Digest’s list of the top 100 designers in the world: “Restraint is not the forte of Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen… what they do excel at are traditional rooms rich with splendid fabrics, paneling, and decorative details, adding a 21st-century twist with bold colors and unexpected accessories.”
“Acknowledged by Architectural Digest as one of the top 100 designers in the world, Moschino and Vergeylen not only create inspiring home environments for elite clients, but also design their own line of furniture, lighting, fabrics and accessories.” – Min Hogg, founding editor of The World of Interiors
Since the inception of the House & Garden Top 100 Leading Interior Designer List, the company has consistently been included, being described as “continental chic at its most accomplished.”
The company has been included in U.S. ELLE Decor’s annual A-List of the best interior designer – those they admire the most…”talents who shape our world and consistently inspire our imagination.”