Timothy Godbold grew up in a small town in Western Australia called Kalamunda, which means “home in the hills” in the Australian Aboriginal language Nyungar. His family is originally from Britain but arrived in Australia before World War II.
He had a fortunate childhood and recalled his first experience with fashion. “I was having a suit made for a wedding when I was eight. I spent a great deal of time selecting the fabric and colours, probably more so than your average eight-year-old. So, I guess the writing was on the wall,” he explained. Soon after Godbold began to obsess over owning the space uniform from 1999 which was designed by famed German designer, Rudi Gernrich. At 11-years-old, Godbold was in a school play and found a military jacket in the drama room closet and instantly fell in love with it. “This would be the beginning of my love affair with military uniforms,” he added.
Godbold’s grandmother was a seamstress and was apt at making clothes; his mother loves to tell him that this is where he got the gene. His grandfathers and great-grandfathers had fought in the world wars, their stories and the romance of war was often discussed over Sunday dinners.
He first started designing and making his own clothes when he was 12. “I taught myself to sew and make patterns out of taping newspapers together on my mother's dining room table. I ended up making clothes for the club kids and earning a salary at 14.”
David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran were just a few of Godbold’s heroes.
He was deeply inspired by New Wave music and the fashion in the music videos. “In fact, Nick Rhodes gave me a beautiful quote in the book about military style,” Godbold said. Rhodes said, “Uniforms unified us, projecting the look of solidarity as if we were all part of the same team and looking good, together.”
When he was 20-years-old, Godbold finished studying at Bentley College (which is now Polytechnic West) in West Australia and moved to London desperate to conquer the world. Most of the people around him moved to Sydney, but he wanted to live in America but didn’t have a visa. He said it was easier to go to England where he had hereditary access. Godbold’s fascination with America stemmed from films and his very chic aunt who spent her life living in New York. “I found her fascinating as a child and very glamorous,” he said.
In London, Godbold worked for Ralph Lauren for six and half years before he was transferred to New York where he joined the women’s design team. “I always thought I would be a menswear designer, but I guess fate had other ideas,” he said.
Godbold said he had a wonderful experience before Zara changed the dynamic of the industry. “It was quite romantic and very glamorous working at Ralph. Unfortunately or fortunately, fashion in its nature changes and not always for the best,” said Godbold.
To stop himself from being old and jaded, Godbold decided to side step and looked into other avenues around design. He explored his passion for interior design and moved to the Hamptons in 2012. His father was an architect, so he spent his childhood around blueprints and building Lego houses, Godbold said he felt this was a natural progression. “I have a huge enthusiasm for interior design plus I love being on a job site. It takes me back to my youth and hanging out with my father on one of his jobs,” he explained.
People warned him about how slow and boring winter was in the Hamptons so he thought it was the perfect time to write a book and that’s exactly what he did. Godbold wrote “Military Style Invades Fashion” as a voyeur of fashion which he can enjoy on a different level. When the concept of his book first came around, he was excited because he knew it was fresh and had not been done before. It started with an image of Lord Albert Victor (the son of Queen Victoria) in full military uniform, and a beautiful collection of furniture out of Los Angeles by Stephen Kenn made from Army surplus cloth and leather straps. Godbold said it was daunting creating this book, but extremely gratifying now that it is finally published. “I love the imagery in the book, and each chapter explores a different aspect of Military.” Godbold is now looking to create his second book and will start further research later this year if he doesn’t get too busy.
Godbold’s day-to-day as an interior designer starts early, but every day is different. He spends a great deal of his time researching furniture, fabrics, art and anything new. “It’s important each home has its own unique personality, so I spend my time shopping for unusual ceramics and knick knacks,” he explained.
If an hotelier only had enough money to renovate or update one area, Godbold said Bedrooms are the most important. “I want my room to be fresh, clean and must have a great mattress. I think if you have a great lobby and poor rooms it is false advertising.”
Godbold felt that lobbies should invoke a feeling and for him it’s an experience of comfort, ease, understated luxury and style. It should also smell beautiful,” he added.
Godbold recommends lobbies to mix up the furniture styles and to incorporate natural textures from wood, stone, marble and other textiles. For larger spaces, he enjoys neutral palettes paired with drama created by proportion and scale. “Lighting is key; I would bring my Aussie buddy Nathan Orsman to create the lighting as it is so important in a hotel space.”
Functionality is also important, as well as a sense of calmness in a welcoming environment. “I’m not a fan of colour stories that have been put together by focus groups and committees. You can see them a mile away,” he said. The mood and colours of the hotel are the best place to start. Godbold tends to learn towards a masculine, neutral style, a design aesthetic that looks current now and in ten years from now. The architecture of the building would also impact on how he would create the environment.
Happy to jump on board to design a hotel, Godbold said that there are no rules as long as it is done with a sense of style and taste.
Fascinated with Scandinavian aesthetic, you can find Godbold travelling there when he isn’t designing. Last summer, Godbold had the good fortune of visiting Stockholm, Copenhagen and Berlin. He highly recommends all three of them to visit for galleries, museums, art, and beautiful people.