House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

Tara Bernerd

The design consultant is in awe of a glamorous new London casino

Tara Bernerd

December 02 2011
Tara Bernerd

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

The bath or shower debate is one that, thanks to my line of work, I so often find myself in, on projects ranging from hotels to building apartment blocks. More times than I can remember I have found myself around boardroom tables with my oldest and treasured client, Berkeley Homes, debating with its directors, Justin and Piers: what do people really want?

Bath or shower: it’s a topic on which I believe (or would hope) we all have an opinion. Suffice to say that for my part, I used to believe I was always a shower girl. However, as yet again today I started my day with a bath full of bubbles, I’ve realised that maybe it takes time to really know what we like. It’s a more important thing than this sentence gives credit to it for, knowing yourself. It reminds me of a film in which the leading lady just didn’t know how she liked her eggs of a morning. (My order: white, scrambled and Tabasco at hand.)

So as I waded through the papers – and the strikes, which just say so much about where we are – I made a decision to not get into politics. I am a designer and am sure I should keep my opinions to myself, and save any rants for the next dinner with friends.

It was another full day at the bureau. There is nothing better for me than a day of internal meetings; I treat myself to wearing jeans, my hair in ponytail and no make-up (female readers, you’ll appreciate the relevance of this, and maybe some of you guys too).

I was briefly back on site at Belgraves, the hotel that is featuring so prominently on our schedules as it reaches its final project stages, and thus is demanding for us. Overbury has been fantastic on site and so it was that once again I made my way to meet Norman, the foreman. This time I was with three of my top designers, Nicola, Michelle and Stephanie. Two are working on another job, but they wanted a feel for how things were moving; the other is a lead designer on this project. It changes every day now, so my nerves escalate as my passion grows.

The whole afternoon was more or less a blur of work needing to be done for the changing layouts and detail for the New York project. Then I was off; I had a few personal things that needed my attention. By 7pm or so I was en route to Stratford to the new Westfield shopping centre, where Damian Aspinall, my dearest friend, was launching Aspers.

It is here that I must stop and offer a moment of complete respect. Within this extraordinary culture of shopping centres that we have become accustomed to sits Aspers, the largest casino in the UK. It makes Close Encounters of the Third Kind seem kind of boring. It has arrived, and it is overpowering and amazing. As I pulled up and saw “Aspers” in lights I was fascinated, in awe and intrigued – a Vegas-style casino, here for us mere Londoners! Twenty-four hours non-stop, for a real 24-hour roll.

And then the statistics: Aspers employs more than 400 people (and that really matters); Stratford is alive before the Olympics, in no small part because of Mr A, and it’s sensational. This very sexy 65,000sq ft is an allowance to play, while your Mrs lets you off the hook. Though I hear that half the guests at this very stylish arrival are already women – indeed Aspers is keen to change the typical demographic. Walking around tonight, it hit a personal note, as it's rare to see an old friend achieve his dream. I met Liam (who apparently is a music talent) with Damian; as he is so low key, who knows? The truth is that the whole evening really blew me away.

After this, the drive home wasn’t overly fascinating, but at least it allowed me to type up this diary on my trusty Blackberry; and tomorrow is another day.

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