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