Hospitality Design: Conception, Identity and the Environment

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An interview with Devy Anggraeny, Principal Designer of Indesign Domus.

Devy Anggraeny is an Indonesian Interior Designer in private practice with Indesign Domus, PT. She majored in Architecture Engineering and received her Bachelor of Architecture from Brawijaya University, Indonesia in 2000. Soon after graduation, she did some low-rise buildings and interior projects such as private residences, real estate, office spaces, cafe and restaurants, retail, exhibitions and special function decor.

With design partner, Paul Tan, Devy aims to lead the company to be a professional Interior Design firm with international standard of services by developing the system, and most importantly to give a unique concept and noticeable experience to the visitors in every project. Indesign Domus has successfully led Interior and Architecture projects such as Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort, Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach Resort and De Paviljoen Hotel Bandung.

Nowadays, it is no longer surprising to see rapid developments of accommodation services ranging from private lodging, budget-friendly hotels, to sophisticated five star hotels. In design and architecture, an increasing number of hotel developments are due to the fact that more people travel to new destinations and the information is widely spread through internet publications. People travel due to their personal interest in culture, history and nature. As more people come for it, higher risk to the surrounding environment affected of human behavior. How designer see this issue and how a hospitality buildings/facilities should be made and well managed?

Arkdesign Quarterly (AQ): What do you think about Hospitality Design?

Devy Anggraeny (DA): Hospitality design is closely related to service industries such as hotels, restaurants,cafes, bars, lounges, spas and clubs with their operators that fundamentally play a very important role in running those businesses.

The initial task of the designer is basically to think about how to create the space, how to create the place and how to make the people enjoy that space. In the end, we hand it in to be managed by the operator. I would say that hospitality design is interesting because it is collaboration with many parties not only between architects and interior designer, but also hard works of many elements. In hospitality design, synergy and support from the operators formed a core basis of a successful hospitality design.

Design for hospitality is different from designing a hospital, where people (come there as they) need it. We design in order to make something as well as giving an enticing experience to the people. This experience should have been started since the point in time that people start entering the facility. This experience should not only visually good such as nice-looking landscape, entrance area and lobby, but also hospitality and quality of treatment.

AQ: Conception of art is always attractive. How do you design interiors to be welcoming and hospitable?

DA: To obtain an appropriate concept, the first thing to do is research. We conduct research to determine the experience that we want to emerge from a place. Our design approach is contextual; therefore, our design is never be the same. It will depend on the place itself. Sometimes big trees can be used as a reference. For instance, large trees that should not be cut down, it might be developed to be interior area and turn out to regain different experiences. We conduct research from many aspects since the beginning of conception. As this is for hospitality, we consider about location, culture, and visitors’ needs, we keep an eye on similar hospitality projects abroad, we stay up to date to design trends and style, and so on and so forth. It is done for filling the gap, the experience that people are looking for. Those factors influence on how we design to be welcoming and hospitable. Once the visitors feel that this is what they are looking for, I would say it is success.

AQ: What are the ideal facilities in a building for hospitality?

DA: It depends on client’s requirement on hotel star rating. For hotel, its basic facilities are bed, water and breakfast; meaning that you could sleep well and take a shower. Those will be the basic facilities to be provided. When it turn to be for hospitality purpose, it needs something plus. Let’s say for 3-star hotels and above, they should have different type of rooms, best-quality bed, good room condition and amenities as well as facilities to eat and drink; means that it should have a restaurant. It is very basic. For recreation purpose, it has to be equipped with pool, spa, and sport facilities such as gym and fitness center. Actually it does not be required, but 5-stars do. It should be equipped by business facilities such as conference room, ideally to support MICE. The more complete the facilities, the better.

AQ: How would you describe your design style in hospitality design? What makes it different?

DA: As my design is contextual, people need unique experience that they could not get from any other place. We try to develop that experience. We dig up the existing potential which we could not leave behind. We dig up the potential things in location, in culture, in the environment, history and anything that is not there yet. One project will be different from another one, so everything will always depend on its context.

I have learned about contextual and conceptual terms. Sometimes, people don’t need to know the meaning behind as it is not explicitly translated in a building; apart from we tell the story about it. For instance, in New York, Frank Gehry made a building which its concept is taken from a ‘rolled-up newspaper’, and emphasizes the building function than its location. People will never know if it the story is not delivered.

In my experience (in design) since the past 18 years, when I get ‘it’ like ‘there you are’ everything will be bold and stronger. I feel like the entire universe supporting us to do that concept correctly. After that, we spreading out the design style and it may turn to be colonial, like De Paviljoen, or modern like my Bali projects – but it still has Balinese cultural influence, means that it could not be categorized as classic. I have ever been made a classic one and eclectic as well. To get the main character, there must be something consistent from my design, as this is the result of work from similar person with similar brain.

Lobby at De Paviljoen Hotel, Bandung

Lobby at De Paviljoen Hotel, Bandung

AQ: What is something consistent from all over your design?

DA: Maybe curvy? But I like every kind of lines; I like every kind of shape, colors. Sometimes we can see similarity from it. But I would rather say that the red line is contextual and the ambiance is always warm because it is for hospitality. It is my concern to create something cozy, because interior design elements are felt by human senses directly touches human skin. Whatever the design are, modern, classic, the feeling coziness and warm will always be there.

AQ: Tourism industry sector in Indonesia is now rapidly well-developed by government. What is your point of of view on the future of hospitality design towards that condition? As planners, how is the challenge in shaping Indonesia’s tourism identity?

DA: Actually the easiest way for Indonesia is to explore the nature because it's already there. We don't need to make a nice city like New York, that's not what we are looking for. Well, but if that's the case, that means, don't forget to preserve the environment. So in our design, it explores its nature while maintaining its nature. That is the most important. If the nature is not maintained, the future will be nothing.

The challenge in shaping tourism identity is to introduce to the world that Indonesia is very rich in natural and cultural wealth. We have thousands of languages and thousands of cultural varieties that do not exist in other worlds. We actually have very big potential but at the same time, it can be wrong if we are greedy, I mean, greedy in planning and did not see the preservation of nature and culture.
Main side entrance at De Paviljoen Hotel, Bandung

Main side entrance at De Paviljoen Hotel, Bandung

AQ: How can a design can contribute a notable experience to humans?

DA: We provide experience, certainly. To provide this experience, if the design is not appropriate, the experience will not be achieved. I don't want to remove the root. It is actually depend on every designer. I want to explore what is already there. The identity is still there. It is the easiest thing, rather than having to build a new identity.

AQ: Nature is an important asset in tourism. Unfortunately, if not handled wisely, it can lead to a negative impact for the environment itself. What is your suggestion about this?

DA: My suggestion is, as wise as possible to develop the environment. On the other hand, it is impossible to say that there is no negative effect, just minimizing the negative effects or we can also substitute it with the design of new things. For example, if we replace some area to be covered with plates, concrete, maybe we can replace it with vertical plantation.

AQ: What kind of contribution does an environment-friendly design make to investment in the future?

DA: We should make the better quality of life. It is important. To make people get the experience, of course, certainly it is. In experience, there are unforgettable moments. It's their tranquility now. But the quality of life should be better; quality of eat, of sleep, of which they gets recreation experience. People have to be healthier, fresher, more cheerful and positive thinking

AQ: Based on all your completed projects, which sustainable design project that you think are most memorable?

DA: De Paviljoen. I would say this is the most unique and successful. The other projects might be just good; I hope my next project in Belitung will also be great.