28th March , 2024

DesignLSM co-founder retires

DesignLSM, the multi-disciplined strategic design agency, announces the retirement of co-founder Simon McCarthy, who alongside Steve La Bouchardiere, established the company in 1988.

McCarthy’s departure marks the end of an era for DesignLSM, while also signalling an exciting new chapter ahead with Holly Hallam, Managing Director, and Rachel Pratt, Studio Director, consolidating their leadership roles and joint ownership of the company.

Simon McCarthy and Steve La Bouchardiere founded DesignLSM over three decades ago, driven by their shared passion for hospitality, creating aesthetically pleasing spaces that were renowned for being commercially successful.


The company’s name, DesignLSM, is derived from their initials, symbolising their collaborative spirit and vision.

Throughout their 36-year tenure, Simon, Steve and the wider team have garnered numerous international accolades for their outstanding work, establishing DesignLSM as a leader in the industry.

From one of their first projects with Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman delivering the Sticky Fingers restaurant, to landmark endeavours including the master planning of the 97,000 sq ft food market at The Well in Toronto and the delivery of 150 Carluccio’s restaurants both in the UK and internationally, their legacy of excellence is undeniable.

Tragically, the passing of Steve in February 2023 marked a poignant moment for DesignLSM.

His infectious enthusiasm and kindness left an indelible mark on the hospitality industry, and his absence is deeply felt by all who knew him.

Simon’s contributions to DesignLSM extend far beyond his experience of delivering remarkable design projects.

His energy, drive, and commitment has shaped the careers of countless designers.

As a mentor, Simon’s guidance and wealth of knowledge has inspired his colleagues to reach new heights in their profession.


Looking towards the future, Holly Hallam and Rachel Pratt, who have been integral members of the DesignLSM team for years, are poised to lead the company into its next phase of growth.

Both Holly and Rachel have demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities, and their on-going joint ownership of DesignLSM underscores their dedication to honouring the legacy of Simon and Steve.

Under the stewardship of Holly and Rachel, DesignLSM is set to continue building upon its reputation of excellence, with a focus on expanding its global footprint.

Exciting projects on the horizon include the development of numerous luxury hotels in Central London and Europe.

Additionally, the company is continuing to make its mark in the Middle East with a collection of resort hotels and restaurant projects underway, as well as continuing successful relationships with F&B brands such as Gaucho, The Alchemist (see homepage review) and North Audley Cantine. 

“Simon has been both a mentor, not only sharing his vast knowledge of the industry and in-depth technical expertise with both Rachel and myself, but also as an invaluable business partner for the last three years. We both are extremely grateful to have had him by our side to navigate through the COVID period and to then move on to celebrate our strengths and successes; ensuring a smooth transition in ownership, equipping us to forge forward, continuing the legacy of DesignLSM – creating our new chapter. Simon will continue to offer his support with all our future endeavors. We are fortunate that he is not just our business partner, but also someone we greatly respect and admire who will remain our friend in his retirement. We wish him and his family the happiest of times ahead as they embark on their next adventure.” Holly Hallam

‘What an incredible journey it has been. As I reflect on the past 36 years, I feel immensely proud of all that my dear friend, Steve, and I began. Starting any business has its challenges, let alone launching an agency at the ages of 24 and 32 – but standing back and seeing the thousands of projects around the world that we have collectively delivered with our fantastic clients and talented teams over all those years feels like a true achievement. I am eternally grateful to Steve for joining me on this path and will forever cherish and miss him as a wonderful business partner, but more importantly, an amazing friend. With the time to now step down and enjoy my retirement, I couldn’t be happier that Holly and Rachel will be leading the future of DesignLSM – I have every faith that they will drive the business forward with their undeniable passion, knowledge of and love for the hospitality industry, just the very reasons why Steve and I started this agency. I will continue to show my support and cannot wait to see what more they can achieve.’ Simon McCarthy.


As DesignLSM embraces this evolution of ownership, the company remains committed to delivering innovative and immersive brands and spaces for its diverse portfolio of clients around the world, standing as one of the UK’s longest running hospitality design agencies.

Editor’s note:


‘When GS Magazine launched in 1997 DesignLSM had been established for nearly a decade and they were already punching above their weight in the world of restaurant design. I met Simon McCarthy briefly on a few occasions and Steve La Bouchardiere, who I felt was more of a publicist than Simon, at numerous events in those early days. Steve, who sadly died last year, was one of the truly nice guys in our business, readily available for industry comment and hugely generous with his time. Between the two of them, Simon and Steve created one of the best commercial interior design studios in Britain, it still is. We wish Simon good health and happiness in his retirement, and look forward to seeing the company grow in the safe hands of Holly Hallam and Rachel Pratt.’ Stirling Johnstone.