Designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates, NUO takes on the hospitality scene as a new local luxury brand. Christie Lee writes.
With Chinese consumers becoming more sophisticated, and the number of foreign imports reaching saturation point in China, it seems no better time to introduce something that is distinctively made in China. Kempinski Hotels is doing precisely that with NUO, a luxury hotel brand developed specifically for the Chinese domestic market. Denoting ‘promise’ in Chinese, NUO has just opened its Beijing flagship.
The new luxury hotel comprises 439 guestrooms, including 42 suites, a 23-metre lap pool, a spa, three restaurants, a café, a Chinese tea house, a lounge and bar. Located in the bustling Chaoyang District, just a stone’s throw away from the Forbidden Palace and the famous Hutong area, NUO Beijing is decked top to toe with Ming dynasty inspired wallpaper, furnishing and decorative features.
“It was a period of great intellectual and artistic development within the country,” observes Ian Carr, who together with his team at Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), was tasked with the design concept. “There was a scholarly approach to all manner of life, which set China apart from the rest of the world.”
Numerous Ming vases measuring two metres high take pride of place in the hotel lobby, where Chinese artist Zheng Fanzhi’s sculpture takes centrestage among Ling Yang benches. Oil paintings by the same artist hang behind the reception desk. The art collection was curated by Canvas Art Consultants.
Meanwhile, the skylight allows natural light to illuminate the expansive lobby by day, and cast patterns on surfaces of the interiors by night. Images projected via light installations enhance the sense of drama.
The artistic touch continues in the guest rooms, where bespoke furniture combine with a ‘Ming Blue’ palette. In keeping with the concept of a Chinese luxury brand, all the furnishings and decorative pieces were made in China. Room numbers are inscribed on hand-painted ceramic plaques. As in the lobby, upholstered furnishings are plush yet exude a clean aesthetic – a style that, according to Carr, was prevalent during the Ming Dynasty. “It’s artistic, but without being bawdy or embellished.”
In line the NUO’s pledge to environmental sustainability, LED lighting are generously used throughout the hotel, including the backlit panels in the skylight.
The spa is inspired by the ‘Siheyuan’, a type of Chinese historical residence. Here, a decorated pathway leads visitors, via a series of majestic-looking arches, to the traditional Chinese medicine treatment area.
Hirsch Bedner Associates