Hospitality Design Today


We witness how hospitality design evolves throughout the years; be it in the style, target market and further to the concept. In this edition, we interviewed notable hospitality designers from home and abroad — architects, interior and lighting designers — about today’s hospitality trends and how they did it.

Story by Barbara Hahijary, Erza S.T. & Banyubening Prieta

Alexandra Champalimaud

Principal of Champalimaud Design

Notable projects: The Plaza New York; Waldorf Astoria Chengdu, China; Four Seasons Jakarta

In the design world that we live in, there are many great names that are leaving their legacies through the design imprint. One who is worth mentioning is Alexandra Champalimaud, dubbed the most talked-about name in the field of luxury hospitality design.

Born in Portugal, Alexandra was raised surrounding cattle, horses and lemon groves in Cascais, a coastal resort town about 32 kilometres from the capital city of Lisbon. In creating her work, she believes that a good design begins with an exceptional story. This can be seen from her creation of acrylic furniture that reflects her stay in Pemba, Mozambique when her husband joined a military service there.

Earlier this year, Alexandra came to Indonesia for a new project on revamping the old Four Seasons Hotel into the new St. Regis Jakarta, slated to open in 2020. During her visit, Indonesia Design had a quick chat with the internationally renowned designer.

Can you share with us your collaboration with St. Regis Jakarta? What will be the concept and design approach?

Our on-going collaboration and relationship have been nothing but brilliant. I really enjoy meeting and working with Peter Sondakh and Shirley Tan. The comfort and quality with which they execute their projects is second to none. I’m very impressed by the results of our work at The Four Seasons Jakarta and working with them on St. Regis has been a pleasure. I look forward to creating another masterpiece together.

Music will serve as the main concept in the design of St. Regis Jakarta. The music reflects the Indonesian cultural diversity, from the traditional music of the Indigenous tribes to traditional dances. This all has been a unifying factor since the Bronze Age. As you know, there are thousands of Indonesian islands boast countless interpretations of music and movement.

As a designer who has an interest in anthropology, how will you incorporate Indonesian heritage on the hotel design?

We will use architectural details inspired by ancient temples such as Pura Luhur Lempuyang, where simplicity of materials is the highlight, similar to the prominence of the Grand Stair in the St. Regis’ brand. Materials are rich and diverse, like bronze and brass used in the percussion in the traditional gamelan music.

Art and tapestry also play a crucial role in Indonesian culture. Correspondingly, we will use layered and sophisticated patterns and colours inspired from Indonesian batik.

Our selection of accent and detail tells a complex musical story, weaving years of tradition and celebration. We will combine traditional architectural materials with more contemporary elements such as glass and mirror, delivering timeless elegance that reflects the Indonesian story and culture.

How about the feature of the room? What will it contribute to the uniqueness of the hotel as compared to its peers?

We will incorporate elements that reflect Jakarta’s unique history to create memorable experiences - from the moment of arrival in the lobby, guests will be immersed in an expansive ‘music hall’ inspired experience, and an installation of light and movement.

How does Jakarta inspire you as a city?

The people of Jakarta give the city its vibrant energy. It’s a bustling urban oasis where glamorous and fashionable people, as well as the city’s rich and dynamic history are inspiring. Every project our firm takes on, we conduct an enormous amount of research – diving deep into history and tradition so we can carve out a space that aptly reflects the region. In Jakarta, I have explored the city’s markets, restaurants and bars that buzz with the city’s energy.

With your long and great experiences in the design industry, what makes you standout in creating timeless hotel design?

Great design does not follow trends, but imparts a modernised approach to the real soul of a project. This leads to our findings to inspire the approach, so we can guide the story that needs to be told within the space. This creates a sense of timelessness and authenticity within the project.

With St. Regis Jakarta, our design narrative begins with the ethnomusicology of Indonesia – the marrying of sounds, the cultural influences and the feelings invoked in the locals. From here, we bring the story to life in thoughtful, well-made pieces. Craft and quality are the most important to consider. I refuse to use something of poor quality that won’t stand the test of time.

What is the world current trend in designing a luxury hotel? How does the trend influence your work?

In my view, the trend in luxury hotel design is where we will continue to see that guests are looking for an experience. We place greater emphasis on public spaces, amenities and services. Gone are the days of traditional hotel bars. Now the general public, not just hotel guests, wants to experience extraordinary lobbies, restaurants and bars on the premises of hotels. Our firm understands how one might live and move through space, and this understanding is crucial in capturing and delivering a social and energised atmosphere.

Andre Fu

Principal of AFSO

Notable projects: The Fullerton Bay Singapore, The Upper House Hong Kong, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok

André Fu, founder of Hong Kong-based architecture firm AFSO, earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Architecture degrees from Cambridge University and made his debut with the Upper House hotel in Hong Kong. He is known for his luxurious hotel projects — from the initial concept stage through to the final detailed designs — as well as his custom-made furniture, lighting and other interior product design. Having completed commissions for several leading hospitality brands, he is recognised as one of the most sought-after design talents in Asia Pacific.

Each hospitality group and brand have their own signatures. How do you translate these into your design?

My work revolves around the ethos of ‘relaxed luxury’ where the high-end market is looking to offer experiences that are more genuine in spirit. I believe the way people live and work is very different from the past – to me, the notion of creating hospitality is to create a backdrop for people to be in. The sense of comfort is key. After all, when people are at ease, they are more inclined to engage with each other.

I am also a firm believer in approaching designs in a holistic manner – it is the layering of multiple elements that are combined to conjure a sense of experience.

How do you incorporate local culture into your design?

The inspiration for each project is borne out of my personal reflection of my own experience of the city. I enjoy exploring each destination personally and I see my work as an expression of the multi-sensory experiences and emotions that are provoked during my travels. During the design process, I am also eager to engage with local artisans and collaborators to truly celebrate the sense of place.

What are the current trends in hotel/resort design?

Lately, I’ve been inspired by what I would describe as ‘modern reflections’ - we live in the social media age and whilst the world is always keen to learn about the next best thing, it is even more critical to learn from the past as we will then be equipped to foster new possibilities with an informed and clear mind.

After all, most hotel projects take years to realise. Whilst it is impossible to predict trends, my personal interest is to focus on the guest experience – the notion of comfort – which I think is a quality that will stand the test of time. Material wise, I enjoy using anything that is authentic - much of my work is characterised by the use of timber, honed stone and bronze.

And what are the current issues in hospitality design?

We are in a very exciting time in the world of hospitality design as social media is making the art of travel much more approachable and the consumer market has instant access to everything that is offered in the market. This is going to prompt clients, hotel operators and designers to pursue more curated products in order to differentiate from one another.

The Fullerton Bay Singapore has gained so many compliments. What was your design process and what inspired you in designing this hotel?

My vision was to tailor ‘a new heritage’ for all the public areas at the Fullerton Bay Hotel. With its unique Clifford Pier backdrop and frontage to Singapore’s thriving Boat Quay area, the hotel was designed to create the feel of a highly individualised stately residence. As well as paying tribute to a bygone era, I purposely instilled a sense of refinement throughout the design and ambience of the hotel. It’s clear to see that the result is a re-interpretation of colonial heritage in a deeply rooted, yet distinctly sensual and lush setting.

Anni Kurniawati

Senior Designer at Illuminate Lighting Design by HBA

Notable projects: The Langham Shenzhen, The Ritz-Carlton Macau

Anni Kurniawati studied architecture, but upon writing her thesis on lighting, she realised that lighting design was her calling. Now her portfolio includes various hotel projects across the globe, from Indonesia all the way to Azerbaijan and China. Her hotel project The Ritz-Carlton Macau was awarded Best Luxury Hotel and Asia Hotel Design Awards in 2016, while her work for The Langham in Shenzhen also received multiple accolades.

How do you view the relationship between architecture, lighting and landscape?

It is a good thing that architectural lighting is best appreciated on surfaces or objects, so we collaborate closely with other design disciplines at work. In that sense, my architectural background definitely helps to communicate the lighting intent during discussions.

Tell us why you got interested in lighting design.

I fell in love with lighting design because the light in itself is intangible, but you can feel its transformative presence. Indeed, lighting could evoke a sense of emotion in a space such as mystery, drama, excitement or calmness.

How has the practice of lighting design changed since you first started working in the field?

I have been working in the lighting industry since I graduated from university back in 2003. There were only a handful of lighting design consultants in Indonesia. At that time, the profession itself was not widely known. Now, there are many lighting design consultants, from small to big firms. Clients, too, are more aware of the necessity of having lighting design consultants on board for their projects.

Please share the most significant part of the whole creative lighting design process.

At Illuminate Lighting Design, the most significant part of the creative process is the concept. We set the tone, direction and purpose of the design as early as possible. One of our completed projects is Sumire Japanese Restaurant at Grand Hyatt Jakarta. We worked very closely with the interior designer to bring a soulful expression to the interior through light.

What is special for me, though, is the synergy between the client and the interior designer. As a result, the restaurant is able to host various integrations and concealed fixtures that keep the purity of the ceiling planes. This led the restaurant to create an ideal level of ambience.

What did you find unique in the design process on each or any of your projects?

Our design process is the same for all projects regardless of the location – there is always cultural aspects to consider. For example, in China they prefer very bright public areas to welcome guests. This means we have many more lighting opportunities. I’m now working on Shimao Intercontinental Wonderland project in Shanghai, also known as the ‘cliff’ hotel. The context is unusual because the hotel is built in a cliff, so I had to also light up the cliff façade in a way that won’t disturb the hotel guests in the evening.

Every project is unique, we need to study the concept and drawings from architect, interior designer and landscape concept before we can do lighting design. This can be said about The Crescent Development in Baku we’re working on, which is going to house one of the world’s few seven-star hotels amongst other very interesting spaces.

What is your view on the demand for lighting designers in Indonesia, compared to Singapore and China?

The market is growing here but not without its challenge. I remember there were times when I was asked if electrical contractors or suppliers could do what I do. A question like this shows we need to continue educating people about the appreciation and understanding of lighting design. As designers, we are interested in the lit effect and integration with the interior or architecture. When designing architectural lighting, we are not only illuminating the room to meet the functional requirements, but also add soul, rhythm and imagination to the space.

You previously mentored students in Indonesia. What advice would you give to a young designer?

Passion is important. I didn’t start with lighting background, my background was in architecture but I had the interest. So, I read up on lighting and educated myself about the basic principles and the fixtures. My favourite projects for young designers are residential lighting, because a house can comprise many areas, such as exterior façade, landscape, interior living room, bedroom, bathroom, and more. Learning the nuances and differences between these areas in the project would be beneficial as the same principle could be applied to more diverse and complex project, like a hotel. It also helps to train young designers to build relationship with clients and respect what they want.

Adam Farmerie, William Harris, Kristina O’Neal, Greg Bradshaw

Principals of AvroKO

Notable Projects: 1 Hotel Central Park, New York; Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa, California; The Scott, Scottsdale

AvroKO was originally established as an architecture and interior design firm, but the four principals, Adam Farmerie, William Harris, Kristina O’Neal and Greg Bradshaw have successfully expanded the business which now offers brand development, furniture design and hospitality management. The firm, which is based in New York, San Francisco, Bangkok and London, has worked for iconic hotels such as 1 Hotel Central Park, New York; Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa, California and The Scott, Scottsdale.

Every brand has its signature. How do you translate this into your design?

Kristina O’Neal (KON): Like location, a brand’s signature is always built into the design concept in one way or another. We usually like to make more subtle references and use signatures as inspiration rather than translating it directly into the design, but it certainly depends on the clients’ wishes and the collaborative process as to how we address that on a case-by-case basis.

How do you incorporate local culture into your design?

William Harris (WH): We love to unpack the details of a location - and not just references of colour and texture but incorporating the history, nuances, and soul of a place into the design and into a concept that will resonate with the people frequenting the space. We tend to be inspired by the small, often unnoticed details of daily life, with which we then put through a modern filter and reinterpret into our designs. The power of myth and storytelling also influences us, which can capture a local spirit that can be translated into a design in a fresh and modern way.

What are the current trends in hospitality design?

Greg Bradshaw (GB): We are seeing a pull away from more formal spaces to a demand for experiences and spaces that are fresh, airy and light and that particularly have delightful, interactive experiences and programming built into the agenda.

What are the challenges of doing multidisciplinary design?

KON: We actually see being multidisciplinary as a strength because one practice informs another, and keeping it all in-house creates a stronger design narrative altogether, dirt to spoons.

GB: The other benefit is that it allows us to be quite nimble with client requests. It widens the playing field allowing us to work with more people in a variety of creative ways.

WH: But to your question, the challenge is probably being careful to make sure we don’t stretch ourselves too thinly and that we offer quality deliverables for each discipline. We’ve had to figure out how to not just do each discipline, but to do it well - that will be something that we’re constantly analysing and auditing. But we’re confident that our teams are putting forth top-notch, thoughtful, creative ideas that are over-delivering on our clients’ expectations.

Please tell us about AvroKO Hospitality Group (AHG).

Adam Farmerie: AHG was born as a direct response to our passions for food and hospitality. We created it initially to oversee and operate our first Michelin-starred restaurant venture, PUBLIC, in New York City. Today, AHG has five restaurants and bars in NYC, one in Moscow and we’re currently expanding into London, Las Vegas and Auckland.

KON: Owning and operating our own restaurants and bars gives us the opportunity to learn about hospitality design and programming problems first hand. This process gives us more insight into designing for a hospitality-driven space which we can then share with our clients to improve functionality and overall guest experience.

Bill Reed AIA

Vice President and Senior Project Leader, WATG

Notable Projects: AYANA Resort and Spa, Bali; Anantara Peace Haven Tangalie Resort, Sri Lanka; Conrad Rangali Island, Maldives; The Ritz-Carlton Bali, Indonesia

WATG is one of the world’s leading integrated design firms, offering a wide range of services comprising strategy, planning, architecture, landscaping and interiors for urban locations, tourism and resort destinations. Along with Wimberly Interiors, a design studio of WATG, it has 11 offices in the US, the UK, Canada, UAE, Singapore and China. In 2017, the hospitality design giant designed over 240 projects in 52 countries on four continents on behalf of distinguished brands such as Bellagio, St Regis, Hard Rock, Nobu, Six Senses, Four Seasons, Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton, Viceroy, Belmond, Rosewood and Hyatt.

How much does the location influence the design?

Our design process and philosophy focus on creating a sense of place and communicating the unique story of the locale. Our clients trust us with creating a guest experience and a design narrative that resonates, bringing a resort destination to life with spectacular results that embrace the essence of the country, the site, and the dream of the client.

For example, in one of our most recent projects, the AYANA Komodo Resort, located in Flores, Indonesia, has an amazing location on the edge of the archipelago. The area’s rich cultural and ecological landscape has shaped WATG’s design for the resort. The resorts’ guest wing has a curving shape and rough textured roof that emulates the form of the Komodo Dragon. The architecture also draws inspiration from traditional batik patterns and sea life to create an informed identity for the hotel. Located in a lagoon with extraordinary marine life and coral sand beaches, the design ensures visitors feel immersed in luxury on the edge of civilization.

How do you tackle environmental issues in your hospitality design?

Sustainability is imperative. It is in our DNA to consider best practices to reduce the impact to the environment, use locally sourced and appropriate materials and leverage the natural landscape and resources. We also do extensive research to ensure our designs are culturally sensitive.

Discovering green and responsible ways to enhance a design is integral to the enduring success of a design and essential for creating a better vision of the world. We strive to stay ahead of the curve with new construction techniques, and innovation within landscape design will help us deliver low-impact, beautiful hotels.

What are the current trends in hospitality design?

Guests are seeking transformational experiences and, more than ever, we are tasked with designing adaptable spaces to provide hoteliers with the opportunity to reinvent and stay fresh. Arts, entertainment, participatory events, and activities are all part of an integrated design and operations programme. Resorts are becoming adaptable spaces that can easily switch to accommodate meetings, art exhibits, and new exciting F&B concepts. This constant reinvention entices guests to return for a fresh experience every time. The AYANA Resort and Spa in Bali is a good example - over the past two decades they have refurbished and extended their spa, added new restaurants, entertainment spaces, wedding venues, a salt-water pool, and the popular ever-evolving Rock Bar.

Guests wish to share their experiences through their social channels, making social media a huge marketing tool for the destinations we design. The ‘wow’ factor is no longer limited to the arrival experience, it must flow throughout the entire resort, including their activity programme.

We are seeing an increase in indoor/outdoor clubs on rooftops, cliffs and beaches. These venues often require little capital investment but need a unique concept to prove successful. Guests demand authenticity, everything needs to feel local and immersive, from the location and ambiance, to the culinary offering and overall brand. With all successful projects, you need to have an innovative owner and operator and a world-class design team that can collaborate to bring a shared vision to life.

Are there any locations in Indonesia that are growing rapidly?

We are seeing an elevated interest in Lake Toba, and development is pushing ahead on Flores Island.

Budiman Hendropurnomo

Director at Denton Corker Marshall (DCM) Jakarta

Notable projects: Maya Ubud, Harris Vertu, Alila Solo

Under Budiman Hendropurnomo’s direction, the Jakarta office of DCM represents the beauty and richness of Indonesian tradition with a contemporary sensibility and evolution of sustainable design. He has a deep understanding of the Indonesian culture that enables him to design numerous hospitality projects including resorts, hotels and apartments within the country. Educated in Melbourne, Australia, he is a frequent guest lecturer at some of the country’s leading universities and regularly presenting at industry events. His first hotel project is Tugu Hotel in Malang, the city where is also his hometown.

What are the challenges in hospitality design?

First, the ratio between back of house, public spaces and guest rooms has to be made efficiently. Second, it is not just about the pretty face, it has to be durable for a long time. Maya Ubud is one example. It was built 18 years ago but it is still clean – not even a wood looks porous. This long lasting design is somewhat a success story. Even last year, I got a new project because the owner went to Maya Ubud – can you imagine that was a 17-year-old hotel! It’s common if I get new project from a newly built hotel, but this can only happen if you design the hotel well that it still is good until today. Designing for hospitality industry brings happiness to me because I’m certain that they keep the maintenance well.

How important is the location in influencing the design?

Very important, because the location determines how we would design the dialog between the environment and the architecture, be it a downtown or tranquil hotel; and what to represent from the city.

Is there any issue highlighted in the current hospitality design? (sustainable design, adaptive reuse/heritage building renovation, and so on.)

In DCM, we prioritise sustainability in both cultural and physical aspects. It becomes important, as people nowadays are more conscious of the environment. However, it is also important to promote design innovation to find unique solutions.

Which locations in Indonesia that are experiencing growth in hotel sector?

The high growth are still dominated in Jakarta and Bali. Two years ago, we designed around 4,500-5,000 rooms – 2,000 rooms in Jakarta alone. I think because the average price of hotel rooms in Jakarta is increasing, while in other cities the average price is stable. Speaking of other cities, we also have upcoming projects in Palembang, Lampung, Bandung, Lombok and Manado.

What are the accommodation types that are currently in high demand?

After years of the three-star hotels being developed in many corners of the country, many cities are in need of more luxurious hotels, so I think there will be four- and five-star hotels coming up. At the moment, we do some five-star hotels. Could this be a trend? Maybe. But there will come again the point that people want to build more affordable three-star hotels with smaller land area and inexpensive budget to build. That becomes the hospitality demand cycle.

So you meant you are now focused on developing five-star hotels?

I more often design four- and five-star hotels, which require less of the branding needs so I can push the boundary and make designs that are out of the box. But more importantly, we have to design the hotel to function well as it would serve thousands of people in the long run. I’m happy to collaborate with these brands to bring something new. With Harris, we formed the only one Harris Vertu. With Alila, we go against the mainstream by developing city hotels in Jakarta and Solo. I also want these works to be the foreground of the city, so when people step in, they could feel that the building is highlighted and interacted well with the cityscape.

How about the design in new brands for Maya, Alila and Ubud?

Behind new brands, there are always visionary owners. Anhar Setjadibrata (Tugu Hotels) wants to represent Malang for his first project. Ray (Maya Hotels) came to me saying that he has this peninsula-like 12-hectare land in Ubud and wanted to make Bali-inspired hotel with less than 108 keys. Franky Tjahyadikarta came with a land bank in city centre area, where now sits the modern Alila Jakarta, which was built when everyone made the neo-colonial designs. They are passionate people who are courageous to push the boundary and dare to make unique architecture.

Tell us about your design approach for Alila Solo.

Alila Solo belongs to Konimex Group, which has been evolving in that city for decades. The owner and Joko Widodo, who was the mayor back then, envisioned the hotel to have a large and sophisticated convention centre – which then realised with big ballroom. The architecture and interior design are inspired by local culture.

Among your many projects, which ones do you consider the masterpieces?

Among many hotels and resorts we have designed, I like Maya Ubud, Alila Solo, Tugu Hotel Malang and Sensa Bandung. In the coming years, we will have Patina Ubud and Alila Bandung that boast unique designs.

Christin Castillo

Project Director at Hirsch Bedner Associates

Notable projects: Fairmont Jakarta, Raffles Jakarta,

Hirsch Bedner Associates is the pioneer of hospitality design, and remains one of the world’s leading interior design firms to date. For more than 50 years, they have been designing for world’s leading hotel brands such as Waldorf Astoria, Four Seasons, Kempinski, St. Regis, Westin and JW Marriott. After having some projects completed in Jakarta, they finally set up an office in this city. We talk to their Jakarta-based project director Christin Castillo about their vision and approaches in hospitality design.

Each group and brand has their signatures. How do you translate it into yowwur design?

HBA prides itself first and foremost as the birthplace of hospitality design – the DNA of our brand is carried by the discipline of our designers where the method and practice are aligned to the standard and quality of our built environments all over the world.

In doing so, our design methodology is a three-prong approach; one is through understanding the client’s requirements, careful consideration of the space and finally, the narrative concept that we use to align the design in our creative process as an overall guide map.

When all of these are combined, we can say that the design solutions are beyond the aesthetic and the layers of the design go more further than just what you see. Our brand is not aligned to a specific style, but more geared to setting new standard of luxury, comfort and innovation.

How do you incorporate local culture into your design?

Specifically for HBA Jakarta, we have a ‘local but global’ mindset; and with that, our knowledge of Indonesia and its local culture is ingrained through our designs, ranging from subtle to obvious in application.

There is a vast cultural reference to explore with, and so our approach ranges from taking inspiration through our concepts - wherein we take an idea and use it as the main key to the overall design. In some cases, beyond the design narrative, we take extraordinary steps to use locally sourced materials and artwork – such as murals, sculpture, still objects - that would convey a story of interest to the user.

What is the current trend for hotel/resort design?

There is a recurring theme in hotel design that is capitalising on a co-working environment. We’ve heard of standalone co-working space sprouting as a niche market, but with today fast and active lifestyle, the need for a flexible space is beyond trend and more necessity.

Much of these principles are already in practice with hotel room designs, but there is more emphasis on the connectivity and ‘always-on’ approach. Similarly, where F&B and All-Day Dining areas are purely a dining experience, there is a change on operator standards adapting to offering flexible/hybrid spaces where a dining table transform into a workstation, and choice of menus have also adapted accordingly, in offering more of a coffee shop experience.

The idea of taking the business with you appeals to the frequent business travellers and the new generation of entrepreneurial youth who are not tied down to their 9 to 5 routine. I would say majority of professionals could relate to this, including myself.

Is there any issue highlighted in the current hospitality design?

In the current local climate, yes, one of the key issues in working on interior fit-outs in Indonesia is sourcing materials, triggered by the difficulty in logistics that drive up the prices.

And so as practical designers, we are responsible for ensuring that what we specify is within reach. I think these points back to having a local mindset and understanding the market. We try our best to connect our clients to locally sourced products to support the locale. If the options are beyond sourcing here, we always acquaint them to reputable distributors that have already established in providing materials to support our designs.

Please tell us about your most recent project.

Throughout three years since the inception of our local offices in Indonesia (Jakarta and Bali), one standout project is the Jakarta team’s creative output on the Ritz Carlton’s Pasola Restaurant - Pacific Place. This All-Day Dining Restaurant celebrates local farmers and food artisans. In this case, we celebrate our local team representing HBA Jakarta.

The design brief revolves around a reflecting pond, expressed on the custom hand tufted carpet with carefully placed ‘koi fish’ accents that add to the calming nature of the restaurant. The main buffet is crowned with a grand custom chandelier based on water lilies - the leaves and dewdrops are made of blown glass and the flowers are made of iron cast sculpted to form.

The fabric selection, which ranges from hues of pastel blue and contrasting rich brown leather, adds to the modern contemporary feel of the venue. In this project, the branding exercise and the new menu selection, combined with the new interiors, have been contributing factors to the success of Pasola Restaurant.

Faried MS Masdoeki

Principal and design director of Hadiprana Design Consultant

Notable Projects: The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah, Bali; Rumah Luwih, Bali; Mövenpick Resort & Spa Jimbaran, Bali

Interior design was not a common industry in Indonesia back in the 1950s, but Hendra Hadiprana decided to establish his firm Grahacipta Hadiprana (now Hadiprana Design Consultant) anyway, right after he completed his architecture and interior design studies in the Netherlands. The company grew bigger, and not sets as one of the interior design giants in the country. Faried Masdoeki has worked for this company for almost his entire career, starting as a designer and climbed up to his current position as the principal and design director.

Hadiprana’s design is famous for being concentrated with local elements. How do you keep this heritage when many people now go for contemporary designs?

Hadiprana’s design, especially for resorts, always starts with a concept that is inspired by local culture. This then turns as a guideline for the architecture, interior, landscape, lighting, artworks designs and further to the minor details. This local culture, combined with the contemporary design, then becomes the context of the project.

The results are always unique (to its specific location, hence different cultures), eclectic (as we combined many values at a time; east-west, modern-vernacular, etc. to broaden the design spectrum) and contemporary (as we make it fit to date).

What are your keys to make a hotel design relevant for a long time?

It is our aim to make a timeless hotel design, which is not only good by the time it is opened, but also in the future. Investing for a hotel, especially five-stars, needs a very big fund – around 12-15 years for return of investment. As a public facility, a hotel can’t be renewed easily. These make a hotel should be durable and relevant for a long run. It has to be (1) functional in every space so we can define its role and program in order to fill the needs of customers. It has to be (2) essentially sophisticated in form, so it would effortlessly last long and need only a few trendy accessories. The materials should be (3) durable and (4) adaptive to different functions and aesthetics.

Are there any locations that are gaining momentum in this period?

Hotel developments are still concentrated in Jakarta and Bali, but there are places that are beginning to grow along with its government’s policies that now encourage local tourism. Bali, despite its overcrowding issue, is still seeing an increase in its number of rooms in newfound places. I can say that Bali remains the orientation for global resort developments, no wonder that they keep developing hospitality facilities there.

What is the current hospitality design trend?

Hospitality industry is very dynamic, innovative, fashionable and attractive. People in this industry are always looking for something new, in terms of operation, market segment, facilities and attractions. This somewhat affects the design concept.

The current trend is to make facilities specific and variable to each segment. A hotel operator, for example, can have five to seven or more market segments that are defined in different brands with different specifications. One of the most highlighted concepts is boutique hotels. Smaller in scale, it goes against the mainstream with more customised design, more specific segments and more personalised service. Surprisingly it has a big market, so the big hotel chains are adopting this concept as well.

Its effects on architecture vary widely. Generally, boutique hotels have fewer rooms and more efficient hotel lobby (not as grandeur as the ones we built in 1980-90s). F&B facilities can be located anywhere (lobby level, rooftop, etc.) and can have different design compared to the hotel’s – this allows the hotel to welcome walk-in guests.

Jasin Tedjasukmana

Principal of KIAT Arch

Notable projects: The Dharmawangsa Jakarta, The Hermitage Hotel Jakarta

Jasin Tedjasukmana established his architecture firm KIAT Arch in 1987. He is famous for his luxury home design as well as his five-star hotels and resorts, including the upcoming The Residences at Mandarin Oriental in Bali. The 1989 Aga Khan Award recipient consistently put local culture into his designs. In The Hermitage and The Dharmawangsa, for example, he took inspiration from the majestic Dutch-era neo-classic that to him, exhibit proportion, harmony, unity, sequence, balance, focal point and more.

Please share your design process for The Hermitage Jakarta.

It took a while to design The Hermitage because we had to do researches on the existing building – about its structure condition, the history, the architecture style when it was built and the government’s policy on heritage buildings. Its shift from Dutch telecommunication office to a hotel also needed attention, as we had to put new functions such as back of office, public area, and bedrooms in order to meet its economic calculations.

What are the challenges in making adaptive reuse design in The Hermitage?

First is to convince the Board of City Architecture Surveillance (TPAK) about the building mass we designed. Second is to make sure that the new building is built in accordance with the old building, so it would complement the old building well rather than to “beat” it.

How far can the location influence your design?

The location is indeed very influential in design. It will be the guide of the hotel’s accessibility. The culture of the place also has to be reflected as a part of the design.

Where are the developing areas for hospitality establishments?

New destinations like Banyuwangi, Labuan Bajo and Manado. Business hotels are also growing in the trade cities along the Northern part of Java.

Can you comment on the current hospitality design trend?

There is a tendency to go for simple, practical and functional design, although local elements are still a part of the design.

Are there any current highlighted issues in today’s hospitality design?

Energy-saving and low maintenance buildings. Especially for heritage building renovation, it is not only about the look, but today we also have concerns about the history – what was stylish in that era – and how to make it comfortable today while keeping the architecture principles.

Robby Permana

CEO of LaaS Lighting

Notable projects: Springwood Apartment, Sheraton Kuta Bali, Padma Legian and Padma Ubud

Robby Permana worked for German-lighting brand OSRAM for more than five years before establishing his own firm Lighting-as-a-Service (LaaS). Under his direction, LaaS has been working for numerous commercial projects and public facilities such as I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport Bali, Altitude Restaurant Jakarta and Kuta Beachwalk Mall Bali.

What are your approaches in making an architecture or interior design standout?

By enhancing the architectural or interior design concept, material and element. We offer the latest lighting technology to highlight all of the details of a design and to also add to the aesthetics of the building and interior at night.

We also have to match the lighting technology and specification with the element and material of the design, because we like to think lighting is like the soul that brings life to the physical elements.

The purpose of lighting is not to ruin the architecture or interior design. For example, with too many bright lights, or too many lit spots, and with the wrong specification, and wrong technology, lighting can ruin a room. We do not want that to happen.

How much has the demand of lighting design grown over the last 10 years?

From what I see, the demand has been growing rapidly along with the number of young designers entering the design lighting industry in Indonesia. There’s also proof in the interest of international lighting suppliers or design companies in opening an office here.

Indonesia has attracted the global market with the ongoing building developments and its lighting designs. This could only happen because plenty of designers, owners, and developers who have travelled or studied overseas, are trying to apply what they learn abroad to Indonesia. They all understand the importance of lighting design.

What are the challenges in today’s lighting projects?

When the user isn’t educated enough about the technology and lighting specification. For example when they assume all lightings are the same and serve only one purpose. They absolutely do not.

The second challenge is the user, who is skeptical of new technology. And the last one is the installation itself. Our purpose is to highlight the details within a design. The more elements we need to highlight, the more challenges we face during installation.

Please tell us about your project for Padma Legian and Padma Ubud.

Padma Legian and Padma Ubud are special. They make me proud because they were one of my clients that understood the importance in the quality of lighting products. They only wanted products with the best lighting output quality for their project.

What is the current trend for hospitality design?

The current trend is still a warm white colour. For down lights, the market is currently asking for thinner, smaller, and more and more seamless shape, but with the capability to fill the required brightness or output. Another trend is the increasing demand for RGB lights that create a festive vibe in a property.

Syarief Santoso

Principal of WDS Singapore

Notable Projects: Autograph Sanya, The Hilton Wenchang Hainan and Renaissance Uluwatu Bali

Indonesian architect Syarief Santoso had worked with Nikken Sekkei International, HOK and DP Architects before he established his own firm, WOW Design Studio. Based in Singapore, the firm of architects has been undertaking commercial projects throughout Asia since 2008. Having completed designs for the Nikko Hotel in Bali, the Pullman Hotel in Sanya, and the eagerly-awaited New World Grand Bali Resort, the architect humbly admits that he is still going through a learning process and only time will tell whether, at some point in his lifetime, he can produce a critically acclaimed masterpiece.

What are the key considerations when you’re designing hotels?

As the architect we would firstly identify the locality and context so the hotel can represent its place, culture, features and sometimes tradition, and yet we always need to introduce sophistication and contemporary ideas in the design. For middle range brands, the incorporation of brand prototypes in rooms, front of house (FOH), back of house (BOH) and F&B outlets can be the determining factor for the success of the project. Furthermore, multiple brand operators like Marriott International want to strengthen their brand images, so we introduced a ‘one-stop-shop’ initiative as an integrated multi-disciplinary service providing streamlined coordination, improved quality assurance and lower costs for strategic brand development. For luxury brands and boutiques, we have more liberty in translating the brand signature. Brands like Indigo by InterContinental Hotels Group require branding consultants to provide ideas based on the locality, culture and other themes that can be incorporated as features in the hotel.

How do you incorporate local culture into your design?

In many of our hotel designs cultural features are an essential part of the overall concept. We don’t just look at the vernacular or local architectural references, we also research local arts, fashion, crafts and even the local cuisine. In the New World Grand Bali Resort design, we have adopted the “Udeng” or Balinese male headscarf as a signature in the roof design. In the Indigo Hotel Puzhehei in China the roof was inspired by the local women’s traditional headwear. Most of our hotels will use colour schemes inspired by the local culture. In the Hilton Sanya in China, for example, we used a dark brown and black colour scheme as the Nanyang indigenous natives use browns and blacks for their clothing.

What are the current trends in hotel/resort design?

In my opinion, trends for hotels, especially resorts, are not very important. The most important thing is to let guests have a sense of the place where they’re staying. Failing to create a sense of place devalues the uniqueness of the resort location.

How about environmental considerations in hospitality design? (eco-friendly materials, etc.)

Many hotels and resorts have now introduced ‘organic living’ into their ethos to promote the idea of enjoying nature and natural living: breathing clean air, eating naturally grown food, living a natural lifestyle, saving energy and recycling waste.


Hamphrey Tedja & Santi Alaysius, principals of Domisilium

Notable projects: Kosenda Hotel Jakarta, Rooms Inc. Semarang, ARTOTEL Yogyakarta

Hamphrey Tedja and Santi Alaysius are US-educated designers – Hamphrey studied architecture and Santi studied interior. They met during their years of work and decided to establish design firm Domisilium in 2009. The firm focuses on architecture and interior design for high-end residential and retail spaces, but in these recent years, we have enjoyed their contemporary design in hospitality projects, including Rooms Inc. Semarang, ARTOTEL Yogyakarta and Marriott Yogyakarta.

Each of your client has their own brand or signature. How do you translate that into your design?

Each client comes to us with a brand manual, which is essentially the DNA of the brand. The identity of some brands might be more resort-oriented while others put a heavy emphasis on art. We try to infuse those identities into the design and let our design revolve around those traits.

How do you incorporate local culture into your design?

Our designs draw inspirations from local culture through a wide use of local materials, enhancing local craftsmanship while also celebrating the local community.

What is the current trend for hotel/resort design?

In recent years, the trend for hotel/resort design is aimed at defining what modern day luxury really is. Now more than ever, customers are paying attention to what differentiates one brand from another and it goes beyond strictly having a visually gorgeous space but also about feeling good in it. Modern day luxury is in the experience. This demands a strong story behind a brand to communicate a unique experience, a personalised service with staff who are empowered to deliver genuine hospitality and a meaningful connection to local culture to forge an authentic sense of community.

Can you identify any issues in the current hospitality design?

With the demographic shift in the industry, current hospitality design aims to cater to contemporary travellers that include not only millennials but also business travellers and design-minded individuals in their late 20s, 30s and 40s. Integration of local elements also remains a strong issue to incorporate in the current hospitality design. More importantly, alternative such as Airbnb, which initially disrupted the hospitality industry, has now inspired the players in the industry to adapt and reinvent the hospitality experience. This is seen through diversifications of accommodation concepts provided by brands, such as OneFineStay and Oasis, to name a few.

Which one of your hotel projects would you consider the most challenging? Why?

Designing for Marriott International in Yogyakarta was one of our most challenging hotel projects, mainly due to the demands to meet international quality on a local budget and with local craftsmanship.

Are there any locations in Indonesia that are growing rapidly these days?

Industrial cities in Central Java such as Yogyakarta and Semarang are rapidly growing as seen in the numerous business opting to build their presence there. Semarang, in particular, is growing as proven with the expansion of the new Ahmad Yani International Airport that echoes the concept of green, floating airport. This insfrastructure development elevates the city as a gateway to national audience. Another region that is also growing rapidly is Kalimantan. Rich in valuable natural resources such as oil and gas, Kalimantan is responsible for generating seventy per cent of the government revenue.

Having worked for two hotels in Yogyakarta at a time, what do you think about the city?

Yogyakarta has a lot of potentials and is catching up with its development. Being a culture-rich with a wide array of talent pool, the city has a strong personality and is a source of inspiration. The city also offers an affordable cost of living and a relatively convenient traffic condition, which are influential to support the growth and productivity of the city.

Please tell us about these two hotel projects. What are the challenges in designing for boutique hotel like ARTOTEL and chain hotels like Marriott?

Since the DNA of those brands is vastly different, the challenges we faced were heavily influenced by that. With a boutique hotel like ARTOTEL, there is definitely more room for experiments. Whereas a chain hotel like Marriott undoubtedly has a more rigid identity to follow. Timeline and coordinations also took longer in Marriott considering the organisational hierarchy that we had to go through for design approvals. However, we also learned that Marriott in Asia Pacific region maintains a higher interior standard than that of the United States.

After having designed many city hotels, what is your next agenda for hospitality design?

We are currently working on something exciting outside Jakarta. This project is largely inspired by adaptive reuse of a building and the enormous potentials we observe coming from other cities in Indonesia. So, you can look forward to that!

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