Tell us about your Hong Kong studio.
I had no idea what it was going to be when we started off in 2010. We started out with about 1,600sqft of space. I said let’s start with one studio of about 10 to 12 people, and we’ll see how it goes.
The initial idea was that it was going to be more of a production and rep office, but it has flourished so well that it’s now grown to 30 people, and [still] growing, in about 5,000sqft of space.
Landmark Mandarin Oriental
Who are your Hong Kong team?
Most of the team here are originally from Hong Kong but many have been educated overseas. The bulk of them are bilingual. Some are trilingual, which is an important part of being in Hong Kong as we do a lot of work in China.
I like having a multi-cultural office. I’m colour-blind when it comes to hiring; I look for people with passion.
Landmark Mandarin Oriental
What appeals to you about designing hotels and resorts?
Hotels offer a big canvas on which to work and a full spectrum of what is available to a designer. You’re designing rooms and suites, which are quite residential, and sometimes offices.
We do retail, shopping arcades, ballrooms, large public spaces, conference and exhibition centres, lobbies, and even outdoor areas. It’s all encompassing. Hotels are very exciting.
What’s become really interesting to me is that a lot of the residential clients are looking for a designer that can bring the luxury and exclusivity of a hotel to a residential project. And my hotel clients are looking to do something that makes their hotel feel residential.
What are the key elements in designing a hotel?
A hotel needs to be a commercially viable venture. A case in point would be the Grand Hyatt, Tokyo, which we did about eight to ten years ago.
For the first five years after it opened they were running at 96 per cent occupancy all year round and they enjoyed a fantastic return on their investment. That to me is the acid test of a good design. That’s what I look for.
It’s not just about a beautiful hotel or project. To me it has to be successful or I feel that I’ve failed. A designer is a problem solver with an aesthetic sense. I might make something beautiful but if I haven’t solved a design problem then I’ve failed.
What projects are you currently working on in Asia?
We’re working on a unique project in Macau with celebrated British architect Zaha Hadid that’s part of the City of Dreams. We’ll be doing all the interiors within the hotel portion. I can’t talk about the design theme yet as I’m sealed by confidentiality.
It’s quite a challenging project because the architectural style is quite different from anything you might see in hotels and the spaces are very dramatic.
We’re also working on a unique hotel near the Forbidden City in Beijing. It’s very interesting because it’s a hotel that will be part of an art auction house. It’ll be like an art hotel and will have very unique architecture.
This is what I love about design and the work we do; it’s something new and different every time. That’s what keeps me young and alive.
I’ve also just launched a new company called the Remedios Collection. Whereas Remedios Studio is a consultant designing hotels and other building types, we don’t actually build anything; Remedios Collection will be about creating something and bringing it to life.
This could be furniture collections or smaller design build projects where I can have the full control over the creation and execution.
Any residential projects planned?
We’ve done several residential projects in Hong Kong that include the Gramercy, which launched a few years ago, and Seymour. We are currently working on the Hudson as well as the Grand Austin.