Renowned Hong Kong architect and designer, André Fu, rose to fame with his designs for the Upper House Hong Kong. No stranger to the hospitality scene, he’s also worked on The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Andaz Singapore, The Kerry Hotel in Hong Kong, the Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo and the Pavilion Suites for The Berkeley in London.
And his latest project, the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, will add yet another feather to his impeccably decorated cap when it opens next week (30 August).
We recently sat down with Fu to discuss his inspiration behind the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok (the first in Southeast Asia), and find out his tips and tricks to creating an engaging space.
Much like your hotel projects, events are largely about brand storytelling, and creating a moment in time that fosters an emotional connection between the audience and the brand. What advice can you offer event planners when it comes to designing a space that tells a story?
I always believe in creating experiences that are holistic in spirit – it is the layering of multiple elements that are combined to conjure a sense of experience.
With Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, I really wanted to translate the story of my own visit to the legendary Waldorf Astoria New York as a child, weaving this memory within my interpretation of Thai culture, from the silhouettes of Thai dance within the architecture, to the floating glass lanterns that are reminiscent of Thailand’s famous lantern festival.
How can event planners harness ‘design thinking’ to plan meetings that are more engaging and human-centric?
I believe the way people live and work are very different from the past – to me, the notion of creating hospitality is to create a backdrop for people to be in. The sense of comfort is also key. After all, when one is at ease, they shall be able to engage with each other and open up to constructive engagement somewhat.
What are your tips/tricks to designing a space that encourages people to connect and network?
This boils down the nature of the occasion and the purpose to which it is to serve. On a personal note, I always focus on the notion of comfort and it is one topic that remains extremely intangible.
In most circumstances, the most rewarding environment is one where the person feels fully integrated to a point where there is an emotional connection.
When working on a new hotel project, how do you integrate local touches and cultural elements to give guests a sense of place?
The inspiration for the hotel was birthed out of my personal reflection on many artisanal aspects of Thai culture, whilst infusing these elements with what I felt evoke the quintessential Waldorf Astoria experience.
I am also hugely inspired by the iconic art deco motifs present in Waldorf Astoria properties and I would like to challenge myself with the goal to juxtapose these elements into a new form of expression in the hotel.