Designer profile: Leo Bertacchini

Homes & Gardens sat down with Leo Bertacchini, design director and principal at 1508 London, to hear more about the celebrated designer's influences and the firm's recent projects.

(Image credit: Noë & Associates)

1508 London has firmly established itself as a global force of luxury design, with studios in London, Dubai, Singapore, Miami, Sao Paulo, and Bangkok. Tackling every step of the design process for residential and commercial projects, as well as yachts and bespoke products, the firm has built a stunning portfolio that speaks for itself. And behind one of 1508's most recent projects – a continued expansion in the United States – is Leo Bertacchini.

Leo is a design director and principal at 1508, overseeing the firm's studios in North and South America. After training as an interior architect at London's Chelsea College of Art and Design, he began his career by working with luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. After breaking into the interior design world, and working with firms across London, Leo found his role at 1508 in 2019. Since, he has played a key role in bringing the firm's signature grandeur to life.

H&G sat down with Leo to get an inside look into 1508's interior design style, the inspiration behind each project, and what's to come.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

A blue and tan dining room with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows

(Image credit: 1508 London)

'At 1508 we have deliberately not associated ourselves with an “above-the-door” personality and we eschew a house style. We pride ourselves for not having one style or aesthetic. Our design philosophy favors an approach derived from measured principles, inspired by history, geography, and the architectural vernacular of a project.

'Operating across four regions with eight offices, our diverse and multi-disciplinary team is composed of talented designers whose design tastes are multi-colored as well as multicultural ... There's a firm belief in collaboration amongst us all and that guides our design principles in developing design narratives for our clients. It is exactly this expression of design that has resulted in 1508 being able to uphold our commitment of designing exceptional and timeless spaces worldwide.

'While most design companies would claim to listen closely to their clients’ needs, at 1508 we use this approach to drive a distinct vision for every project. This means we can give our clients absolutely anything they want, from stark minimalist decor ideas to full-on maximalist decor ideas. Our passion is to interpret and achieve our clients' wishes. We never see ourselves as the artists, so the project is always the celebrity, not us.'

How did it all begin?

A neutral bedroom with high ceilings and translucent drapes

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman for SHVO)

'From a young age, I always knew I was going to do something within the arts world, but never really knew what it was going to be. My early years in theatre production brought me over to London and from there I started working in fashion, which really opened my eyes to a new world and sensitivity towards form, volume, and craftsmanship. I got deeply involved in visual merchandising and product placement within the fashion houses I have worked for.

'My close friends at the time who became lifelong mentors – and were successful architects who had been in the business for many years – always said I should go and train as one. According to them, "I had the eye for it." I finally decided to go and study interior architecture, which I did with another degree in fine art and communication for good measure. One day, one of those friends called me up and said that they had just landed a tremendous crown estate redevelopment project of a 2,000-square-metre listed building in London and urgently needed help.

'I got my first job in a design studio within my first month of university. Those were unbelievably busy years, but equally pivotal to my personal development. By the time I had finished both degrees a few years later, I had completed over eight private client and hospitality projects across London and continental Europe, which gave me a lot of experience in luxury interior design.

'In 2019, I was connected with 1508 through a dear colleague, studio director, and partner at 1508 whom I had worked with in the past at another design studio. I'll never forget a Facebook message that came through checking how I was and inviting me for a catch-up coffee. The coffee happened, – not only with my colleague, but our CEO was there also. We work closely together to this date, and I am now the regional director and design principal for 1508 in America, working closely with the team to deliver projects in the region.'

What kind of work do you take on?

A living room with very high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows with a coastline view

(Image credit: 1508 London)

'We are a design studio specializing in private residential, hospitality and multi-unit developments, as well as yachts and product design delivered from studios across four continents. Our expertise extends across all stages of design and construction; from feasibility studies, planning, conceptual, and detailed design through to monitoring construction on-site, procurement, dressing, and hand-over.

'We are simply passionate about design and every project is special and dear to us, bringing different sets of challenges and opportunities for conversations through design … Their success means we’ve done what we came to the table to do. What else can we ask for?'

What's your favorite project you have worked on so far?

A white living room with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman for SHVO)

'If I had to mention two, it would be our debut project in America – the Mandarin Oriental Residences in Beverly Hills. This project marked a significant milestone for 1508 as it was our debut project in America, and the first new luxury condominium developed in Beverly Hills in the last decade; it has paved the way for our US expansion. Working alongside SHVO and the Mandarin Oriental brand to deliver this project was something truly special.

'More recently, we have been working on the Cipriani Residences in Miami. This project exemplifies the fusion of luxury, sophistication, and unparalleled craftsmanship, setting a new standard for luxury living in Brickell. The recently listed Penthouse Three, for example, is part of the limited Canaletto Collection and offered us the unique opportunity to custom design two distinct styles of furniture and finish packages completely genuine to the Cipriani aesthetic – available exclusively for purchase only to Canaletto Collection residents. We have relished the opportunity to work alongside a team of world-class developers, architects, and the Cipriani brand to bring this extraordinary project to life.'

Who inspired you when you started? And who inspires you now?

A neutral dining room with a floor to ceiling window and modern dining chairs

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman for SHVO)

'There is just so much that can be listed here. I’m passionate about art in all its forms: photography, music, dance, theatre, cinema. And I tend to revisit works over and over again and try to pay attention to what and how that piece of work speaks to me at each given time – reflecting on where I am in my life at that time and how open I am at that time to interact with that experience. It’s incredible how it changes every time. We must always remain curious and fine-tune our perception to remain relevant.

'I genuinely believe in the power of design and how impactful it can be. There is a lot of precious talent in our industry. And there is a lot to be said about the craftsmanship of master artisans and artists we get to work with, for example. From textiles to woodwork, to embroidery or organic architectural surfaces. I’m besotted by all of them. The passion and intrinsic levels of execution and detail they dedicate to their work are just mind-blowing.'

What's next?

The entryway to a luxury apartment building

(Image credit: 1508 London)

'I’m genuinely excited for our American venture and our CEO and partner’s vision for the growth in that region. I had the privilege and the responsibility to assist in our US expansion from its infancy. This was possible due to visionary patrons and partner brands who believed in our work and our partnership approach to design.

'We recently have set up camp in New York City, and together with our studios in Miami and Sao Paulo closing the loop on the American continent, there’s a lot to go for and exciting projects to be developed … Watch this space…'

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.