Paul Semple and Matthew Shang are the brilliant design duo behind Singapore-based studio, Distillery, which last year merged with HASSELL. Responsible for designing some of Singapore’s most talked about hospitality venues, here they discuss some of the current trends influencing guest room interiors, how they make their projects stand out, and their most memorable guest room design …
What would you say are the top three trends influencing guest room interiors at present?
MATTHEW: The convergence of residential styling and the hotel room – people want to spend time in a home-like environment. This is evidenced in the rise in popularity of Airbnb.
There is also a move towards bringing the guest out of the guest room into public spaces, for example moving desks from rooms to a communal bar/lobby hang out zone. This reflects different working methodologies, and people’s comfort levels when working in different types of environment (from cafes, co-working spaces or mobile desks etc).
Breakdown of elements – for example robes – such that they are more flexible for the guest’s use, with a focus on comfort and usability as opposed to a standardisation/cookie cutter approach.
What, for you, is the most critical element of effective guest room design?
PAUL: The core element is a good nights sleep: blackout, bed comfort, pillows, linens and room conditioning; temperature control; location of room controls and lighting.
How do you ensure your projects stand out in such a fast-paced and heavily populated sector?
PAUL: Craftsmanship, and the detail and quality of materials. The interior must feel like it is established and can stand the test of time. It’s less about being of the minute, but having enduring qualities.
MATTHEW: It’s important to ensure that they have an independent, fresh voice, which is obviously based in a strong collaborative process with those who will run and operate the venue. Joint ownership of the vision for the venue.
What would you say is the most memorable/unusual guest room you’ve worked on, and why?
MATTHEW: I worked on the Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur India, which was the featured hotel in Bond’s Octopussy.
PAUL: My most influential project would be the Amansara in Siem Reap, which was the guest house for Prince Norodom Sihanouk during the 60s, hosting Jackie Onassis etc. It set a benchmark in the luxury market.
Have you got any new projects on the horizon you’re able to share with us?
MATTHEW & PAUL: There are a number of projects we are currently working on including: A bar in Singapore in an unusual lobby setting, which has an art deco-inspired interior; a penthouse bar in Beijing in what is currently the tallest building in Beijing; we are currently completing a retail concept for an artisan spirit supplier and we are also currently completing a private members club in Singapore.