Founder of AFSO and André Fu Living
BACKGROUND. Cambridge graduate architect André Fu is known for the Upper House, one of the most-admired luxury hotels in Hong Kong. Fu’s ‘East-meets-West’ work includes eye-catching designs such as Villa la Coste in Provence, the Fullerton Bay Hotel in Singapore and the Opus Suite at the Berkeley in London. He considers his signature style to be ‘Relaxed Luxury’.
What is ‘Relaxed Luxury’ for you?
I think luxury has defnitely evolved. ‘Relaxed luxury’ is a term that I use constantly to describe my work and it started around fve years ago. We love to be comfortable, to feel good, and we are increasingly knowledgeable about experiences that are close to our heart. So, it is how I am describing a way of life because people are gravitating towards a more genuine focus on health, on well-being, on being comfortable and what is being truthful to themselves. In many ways, this is what triggers the changes.
I think historically; formality is always associated with luxury there is always some sort of formality that is attached to it. These days, there is a somewhat casual quality. Now, I think being in a space that is honest and luxurious is what makes you actually feel good. In that sense, that feel-good factor is very important.
Tell us three materials that portray your luxury style
In terms of design materials, I like products that are genuine like solid timber, stone and bronze. I use timber extensively and I like the tactility of pure and solid stone. Those are the materials that I like and I think that they will never go out of style.
In the hotel industry, how does the physical experience become more important than the aesthetic experience?
Twenty years ago the hotel scene was quite generic. All of the big international brands were doing similar types of hotel very boxed standard. But now, as the market is becoming ever more saturated, everyone is trying to do something that differentiates themselves. By that process of change you now have experiences that are very different with each catering to different clientele.
It is very easy to experience things just through images or through things that are two dimensional, but when you’re in a space and you have a physical interaction with space that will be much more informative as a true lifestyle experience. I guess the market offers a great diversity in terms of that kind of experience because everybody is much more informed about design and travel because of technology and the ease of travelling.
There is a trend among young designers and architects towards efficient design and eco-style design. Do you see that as luxurious design?
If you talk about millennials then lifestyle is about co-working spaces; beautifully designed co-working spaces that are very well curated even though they might not look classical or opulent in the traditional sense. However, there are some very well designed co-working spaces in the market. And I think if the demand for co-working space continues to grow, then the market will become more competitive and there will be even better products that will come into play. The same applies to hotels. I defne luxury in terms of the quality of the experience. So if you are in a space and you can wholly immerse yourself into it and feel comfortable, then that, I think, is the core value of a luxurious experience.