Edinburgh interiors expert Gilly Corkery has an intriguing, and increasingly productive, sideline – designing luxurious living spaces high in the Swiss Alps. And there’s not a cuckoo clock in sight
Gilly Corkery is getting used to keeping a pair of salopettes to hand. Instead of trekking north to Glenshee or Glencoe, though, Gilly, the chief designer at Interior Design Partnership (IDP), where she is also a director, is a regular commuter to a rather more glamorous snow-sports mecca. Alongside her local projects (the practice has a strong UK portfolio, particularly in Edinburgh, where the office is based), Gilly spends much of her time in Switzerland, close to the swish ski resort of Verbier, where a growing client-base has sought out her eye for stylish chalet chic.
Long gone is the fashion for twee alpine cottages with decorative balconies; in their place across these awe-inspiring mountains are pockets of sleek, contemporary structures – homes to those who like their après-ski surroundings to be as impressive as the slopes they slalom down. Such modern exteriors require equally stylish interiors; enter Gilly, with elegant, understated designs that would work just as well in a penthouse in Milan or a loft in New York – which is precisely what her clients desire.
“Most of our work comes to us via word of mouth,” she says, “and it was the same on this project. The clients here, a British couple based in Geneva, also had very definite ideas about how they wanted their chalet to look.”
First and foremost, they were clear that they didn’t want the stereotypical chalet look where plaids and pine produce a sorry pastiche of the traditional mountain getaway. Rather, they were looking for something to mirror their international lifestyle – an elegant, restful space where they could unwind and escape their hectic business lives. Work demands mean they can only be occasional visitors, so ideally the chalet would double as holiday accommodation for short lets too.
Rather than trying to compete with the location (this chalet has uninterrupted, 270° views of jagged, Toblerone-perfect peaks: angular, dusted with icing-sugar and bathed in glorious sunshine), Gilly has embraced the surroundings and taken her lead from their natural beauty.
Involved from the planning stage, when the chalet was nothing more than a concept on paper, she and the IDP team were able to get to grips with the layout and understand how the space would work, before construction was complete in 2010. “I always think of the process as being like a relay team – you have the architect who starts the race, who then passes the baton to the builder before the interior designer takes it across the finishing line,” she explains. This kind of early involvement means that she has a say in the placement of essentials such as radiators, light switches and sockets, rather than leaving these small but crucial detail
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 166-174, issue 93.
Words Catherine Coyle
Photography Aga Cabala
What A five-bedroom timber-framed chalet
Where Les Collons, Switzerland
Architect Eric Papon