With several accolades under his belt, including Designer of the Year at Maison et Objet 2016, 42-year-old Andre Fu has designed several projects around the world like The Opus Suite in London, The Fullerton Bay Hotel closer to home, and another large-scale hospitality project in Hong Kong which he recently completed – Kerry Hotel.
He has also collaborated with several renowned brands such as luxury lighting company Lasvit, where he showcased a collection at Euroluce, Salone del Mobile Milan 2017. We caught up with him when he was in town to judge the Asian Hotel Awards, part of the Singapore Design Week.
How is Kerry Hotel different from other hospitality projects you have designed?
It is probably one of the largest projects I’ve done so far. Typically, the works I do tend to be of a more intimate scale, but this luxury hotel has a much larger volume. It has a ballroom that boasts a capacity of over 100 tables – almost double the size of ballrooms in regular luxury hotels in Hong Kong.
What’s interesting to me is the challenge of infusing a sense of “relaxed luxury” into such a vast project, while still making it feel intimate.
How do you define “relaxed luxury”?
Historically, luxury is usually related to the perception of formality, focusing on merely decorative aspects. I prefer to view luxury as a sense of comfort where guests feel nestled into a place with residential quality that is created for them. Luxury, to me, is achieved if it creates a sense of intimacy in the space, with the tactility of materials used and general proportions of the space.
With Kerry Hotel (pictured above), there is a generous sense of flow and openness throughout. It is devoid of superficial decorations, thereby giving the hotel a purist quality. There is also an apparent connection between the indoor and outdoors to create a visual continuity from the city to the interior spaces, adding an urban resort ambience to the entire space.
How does your knowledge in architecture and interior design affect the way you approach smaller projects like the lighting collection with Lasvit, and carpet designs with House of Tai Ping?
With spaces, there are many things that come into play, like lighting, music and hardware. For singular objects, it can get difficult to express a story of a similar magnitude as with larger projects. Therefore, during the conceptualisation process, it is especially important that we question what we’d like to achieve, as doing so sometimes create interesting results.
For the Tac Tile lighting collection (pictured above), which was exhibited at Euroluce, Salone del Mobile Milan in April, I designed the lamps such that they can be used horizontally or vertically. Placed horizontally, they remind us of slate roofs seen in Chinese vernacular architecture, whereas when placed vertically, they remind us of a post-modern skyscraper. The design, therefore, responds to aesthetics by which I am constantly inspired.
Launched at Design Shanghai in March this year, the new carpet collection – Scenematic (pictured below) – with House of Tai Ping celebrates contemporary life. Urban city grids inspire the design.
Intricate and interesting textures were achieved using an unusual weaving technique, which incorporated the use of several materials, including latex, silk, cashmere and wool.
With this collection, my aim was to celebrate the memories and silhouettes of our everyday live in urban cities, like how sceneries get reflected off buildings and blurred into cinematic qualities and imagery.
In your opinion, what is the future of Asian design?
With technology and social media, design has become more accessible, allowing constant introduction of new ideas and creations.
Even something that has a historical context can get revisited, and people now have a much stronger connection with design. Because of this, the demand will only get stronger.
As such, it’s even more challenging for designers these days because information gets transmitted globally in a split second. There is more need to innovate and foster new possibilities. I think, in that sense, Asia – or even the world – has lots to learn and develop.
I’m curious about what the future holds. The more I’ve worked in Asia, the more I see that each Asian city is different in many ways.
With the amalgamation of heritage and culture, Asian designers need to always be true to their origin and culture, and find means to create new designs that remain relevant in a contemporary context.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ANDRE FU AND HIS DESIGN FIRM, AFSO, AT AFSO.NET.