A unique mix of ingenuity and inspiration

Maria Katsarou Vafiadis

Founder and MD

The founder of MKV Design, Maria is an established thought-leader within the interior design world, an opinion former and a regular commentator on industry issues.

Maria’s body of work over two decades demonstrates a true versatility; every project is a one-off, reflecting her constant quest for new ideas and approaches. She is as confident in re-imagining large spaces and making them work harder,  something much in evidence in her design for the Kempinski Budapest, as she is in creating intimate and theatrical interiors such as at Style Hotel in Vienna. Her ability to celebrate location is at the heart of the new Bürgenstock Hotel perched 500m above Lake Lucerne, and her feel for context while adding something new comes through in her work on the Hotel Schweizerhof, Bern. The beautiful Costa Navarino is testimony to her ability in creating spaces that take guests on a unique journey and Hotel Esplanade for her sensibility when bringing heritage up to date.

Maria’s range of vision comes from an instinct for luxury design and the creative insight to draw ideas from diverse sources, whether an object that tells a story, or the energy of an entire city.

Dominic Barber


Dominic was inspired to become a designer by the graceful proportions and fine detailing of his grandparents’ Georgian home. The projects he works on today are decidedly more contemporary, but he has retained that focus on detail and the importance of craft.

Whether designing for Quo Vadis Restaurant in London or one of his recent hotel projects – including Radission Blu Sandton, Hotel Schweizerhof and Sheraton Park Lane – Dominic looks at every project in a global sense, from the broad picture to the smallest element. A natural problem-solver, he believes that any design should be underpinned by the very best technical know-how.

“I believe that a good designer has to re-invent. It’s about being inspired by the world around you and channelling that into a well-conceived design.”


Giovana Valmaggia


Giovana believes that beauty and harmony are eternal values worth striving for and that designing hotels allows her to share these values with a diverse public. To do this well, she says, designers need to listen – to the client, the project team and the guest, and also to the building, the location and the needs of the planet on which we live.

In a career dedicated to hotel design, more than 12 years of which have been with MKV working on such significant projects as the Bürgenstock Resort and Costa Navarino, Giovana has demonstrated the curiosity, originality and attention to detail which have enabled her to create one-of-a-kind hotels time and again.

Ky Low


Ky is proud to have been part of the team that created the world’s first seven star hotel – the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. The uncompromising standards of that project are a hallmark of all of his work today, from the Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi to the Boulevard Hotel in Baku.

Whatever the nature of the brief, Ky believes that one of the key elements of good design is an ability to bring an understanding of local culture. He has shown time and again that he can successfully strike a balance between respecting the context of a building and creating something inspiring and unexpected.

Helen Quaine


When it comes to style, Helen considers herself a bit of a chameleon. She enjoys adapting and responding to a wide range of design briefs, from the art deco-inspired Sheraton Park Lane to the modern interiors of the Radisson Blu Gautrain.

She’s also happy blending multiple influences within a single project, as she did with the mix of antiques and modern pieces in her work on the Hotel Schweizerhof  Bern. Whatever the scale and scope of the project, Helen brings a commercially-minded approach that makes best use of space and ensures the needs of the client and the end users are always met.