Argent Design's bizjet cabin design; inset: founder and CEO Nicola Fontanella

Argent Design's CEO: Why our residential and yacht clients also enlist my services for their prized aircraft

“Owning a jet is like having a Bugatti in the sky. The materials used must be opulent yet practical.”

With a global footprint of projects spanning New York, Miami, London, St. Tropez, Beijing, and Hong Kong, Argent Design is leaving its imprint across continents—and above them. When founder and CEO Nicola Fontanella and her business partner Jack Bridges, a principal and co-owner, put their heads together, supremely stylish, next-level homes, yachts, and private aircraft are the result. BJT asked Fontanella how Argent Design is able to maintain both project flexibility and quality for such a rarefied clientele. 

What do bizjet owners have to understand about the differences between designing their residences and designing their aircraft?

We start by gaining a deep understanding of how the jet will be used. Impeccable space planning—one of our specialties at Argent Design—is a top priority. This entails everything from creating space for an in-air boardroom or workspace, to customizing comfort with dedicated relaxation and rest areas outfitted with plush bedding and amenities. Additionally, ensuring the durability of fabrics is essential, as is creating multifunctional spaces that seamlessly blend from one function to the next. Some company owners or ultra-high-net-worth individuals may also ask us to incorporate company branding into the design.

Are there regulatory issues that you have to explain to them?

Yes, the aviation safety regulations pertain to the materials used in aircraft interiors, including the weight and durability of the materials. Safety codes governing many of the hard finishes, stone, for example, require the use of “honeycombing” to meet weight restrictions.

Owning a jet is like having a Bugatti in the sky. The materials used must be opulent yet practical. That’s why we typically line the ceilings of our jet interiors with leather. We also place an emphasis and meticulous attention to detail designing storage for jet interiors, especially for items like glassware and china. Harmonizing functionality, design, and practicality is paramount. What’s interesting is that many of the storage solutions Argent Design has developed through its aviation practice, we also apply to our residential or retail projects, when designing storage spaces there.

The Jet Business conference room, by Argent Design

Are there similarities between aircraft and yacht design?

Certainly. In both designs, good space planning is imperative to ensure the layout flows seamlessly and every element belongs harmoniously. Additionally, in both maritime and aviationenvironments, the practicality of materials plays a vital role in order to ensure both durability and functionality. Having a clear client brief detailing how the plane or yacht will be utilized is crucial for an effective and effortless looking design. Both air- and sea-based designs prioritize storage space to ensure that everything has its designated place and contributes to the overall flow and sense of belonging within the space.

Is it safe to say that your VIP clients are so satisfied with your residential work or the commercial work that they hire you for their bizjets? 

Yes. Over the years, many of my clients have experienced enormous success and I’ve grown globally along with them. This has afforded me incredible opportunities. Now my team consists of 50 employees—they speak Mandarin, Cantonese, French, Russian, and more—and are spread across our offices in London, Miami, Melbourne, and Monaco, strategically located to ensure connectivity 24 hours a day.

Who are some of your clients across the commercial, luxury hospitality, retail, and marine sectors?

Most of Argent's clients value privacy and confidentially, and prefer to remain unnamed, especially celebrities, royals, and other private individual end users. However, Argent Design also works with many global property developers, retail brands, and hospitality companies, many of which I can name: Vanke, Berkeley Group, Hadley Group, Caprise Restaurants, Blue Crest, Galliard Home, Thackeray Group, Capco, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts, Aman, Queensgate Investments, Residential Land, Annabel’s, Firoka, Greenland Group, Selfridges & Co, Flannels, Represent, Creed, Team 242, Jack Wills, Agent Provocateur, Sneakerboy, Gieves & Hawkes, Frasers, 18montrose, Everlast, Lalique, and The Jet Business.

Without naming names, can you cite a residential client who became an aviation client?

Years ago, I had the opportunity to design the London residence of an entrepreneur, delivering a project that left him immensely satisfied. Impressed by the outcome, he entrusted me with the task of designing his first personal airplane. It was my first foray into aviation design and his first foray into personal aircraft ownership. The design was a success, and the client was thrilled with the result. The experience played a pivotal role in inspiring him to venture into the aviation industry, ultimately establishing a private jet charter firm.

The Jet Business aviation showroom, by Argent Design

This story is an illustration of how Argent Design came to specialize in interiors ranging from residential, commercial, luxury hospitality, retail, marine, and aviation, but all focused on quintessential luxury. Building trust and satisfaction working with a VIP client on one type of interior project, often a residential one, frequently leads to more projects designing that client’s jet, yacht, or even the interiors of their corporate or retail spaces, as well as their second, fourth, or eighth homes.