Project Director at Hirsch Bedner Associates
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.