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.