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Sumu Design’s Felice Carlino on influences and the future

Interior designer and director of Sumu Design Felice Carlino sits down for a conversation on his career, influences and what the future holds for hospitality.

Sumu Design’s Felice Carlino on influences and the future


May 20th, 2015

Full name: Felice Carlino

Role/title: Director / Interior Designer / Draftsperson at Sumu Design

Who have been your top 3 influences?

I have a number of influences but my top 3 influences are people who I have worked with in the last 28 years of working in this industry. 

Tony Schiavello: I was employed by Tony in 1990 and worked at Schiavello’s in Sydney. In my eyes, Tony Schiavello was a person who puts the needs of client and the needs of the project first. He wouldn’t hesitate to physically get his hands dirty if it meant getting the best outcome for the project. He is who I try to model my professional self and my business on.

Glenn Holmes: Glenn gave me the opportunity to learn to build on paper. To look at every junction and every interaction and search to create a resolution that is as close to perfect as possibly can be.

Sebastien Segers: Sebastien, the person behind many of Marc Newson’s architectural works. I love the precisions of his projects. Sebastien designs spaces that require millimetre accuracy. His projects allowed me to really combine the best of Tony’s and Glenn’s influences into one project. For me, Sebastien’s projects are pretty cool projects to work on.

How did you come to be an interior designer? What first drew you to the practice?

I was brought up in a family involved in different areas of construction. Working as a builders labour during my school holidays, I always wanted to be involved in the construction industry but without doing the actual hard work. I started as an Architectural Draftsperson and then went back to study Interior Design. There have been times when I have considered leaving the design industry. But I can’t get myself to leave. I really love designing and building.

What has your experience with Hospitality design been?

My experience with Hospitality has been mainly airport lounges, café, and restaurants. Some projects of note are:

The Boathouse Glebe

The Qantas Sydney and Melbourne First Class Lounges

The Qantas Chairmans Lounges Sydney, Perth

Qantas Hong Kong Lounge

Qantas Singapore Lounge

What interests you most about this particular field of architecture? 

The most interesting thing about hospitality design, in particular airport lounges, is creating the perfect balance between environment, atmosphere and operations that creates an individual experience for different people all at the same time.


What are the biggest developments in Hospitality design you’ve seen? What do you predict they will be in the future?

I think the biggest developments I’ve seen in hospitality design over the years, is the breakdown of the barriers between the kitchen and the customer. The movement beyond the one dimensional experience to the creation of a culinary opera. Engaging all the sensors simultaneously.

Where to in the future? Micro / private restaurants. Usually set up at someone’s home. Open only once a day or once a week, servicing a select clientele of 4-6 people. Usually frequented by the same loyal customers over many years. The food can vary from exquisite specialized meals to simple home style food. There are number of these restaurants throughout Japan, although knowing where to locate one these private restaurants is next to impossible.

On a lighter note… What do you find to be the most exciting material, and why?

Timber. Because it can be moulded and shaped. With today’s technology timber is becoming an extremely versatile product that can be use as simply decorative finishes to major structural elements.

Favourite local landmark/building?

The Rippon House in Wahroonga NSW.

Favourite international landmark/building?

The Sydney Opera House. It is beautiful piece of art.

Dream project to work on (real or imaginary)?


I recently design a concept high end Accommodation pod, with the intention of being pre-fab, made to order and shipped anywhere. I would like to see this project come to fruition.

The Sumu Accommodation Pod

The Sumu Accommodation Pod

Dream person to collaborate with?

It’s more of a dream team that I would like to collaborate with. These are people that I have worked with. People who inspire me and who I admire not only because they produce good design. But mainly because of their commitment and drive to bring out the best of any project they work on. Whether it be a significant or insignificant project. Sonia Lee, Amanda Stanaway, Joe Greico, David Caon, Sebastien Segers, Pei Yin Loh, Lauren Gelling.


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