Young Dutch hospitality brand citizenM debuts in Asia with citizenM Taipei North Gate, its 11th hotel to date
Since its inception in Amsterdam in 2008, citizenM has been revolutionising the traditional hospitality by infusing its core DNA – contemporary design, easy accessibility, cutting-edge technology and art-inspired communal area – all in an affordable price into its chain of properties in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Glasgow, Paris and New York. This year marks a significant milestone for the brand as it forays into Asia with its inaugural hotel, citizenM Taipei North Gate, a collaboration with Artyzen Hospitality Group.
[caption id="attachment_19237" align="alignnone" width="425"] Standing 26 storeys, citizenM Taipei overlooks the Tamsui River with unobstructed view[/caption]
Overlooking the historical North Gate, citizenM Taipei North Gate is centrally located with only a few minutes’ walk to Taipei Main Station and Airport Express terminal and adjacent to the popular Ximending shopping area. With 267 smart rooms, the hotel offers view of Tamsui River and the mountains beyond.
Adopting a vertical rather than horizontal expansion, the hotel signals a departure from the brand’s signature modular construction method. This is also the brand’s tallest hotel so far with 26 storeys complemented by LED-lit contemporary exterior. “This is traditionally built as we have observed the restrictions with construction and the limit with height to stack up in Taiwan,” says Robin Chadha, Chief Marketing Officer of citizenM. “But look at the contemporary exterior, the black facade versus vertical lighting. It’s a good starting point for architecture.”
[caption id="attachment_19233" align="alignnone" width="770"] The wall-to-wall windows allow guest to enjoy the best view of the Taiwan capital[/caption]
All citizenM hotels rooms are equipped with XL size beds, wall-to-wall windows, power showers. But it is the smart technology that sets them apart from the rest.
The intuitive and handy in-room tablet moodpad enables guests to adjust everything from the television, alarms to room temperature, blinds and ambient lighting, to just the way they like it.
[caption id="attachment_19236" align="alignnone" width="770"] Guests are greeted with a anime art piece by Taipei graffiti artist, ANO, at the exterior entrance[/caption]
citizenM is also dedicated to bringing art into local community. Before walking into the stylish entrance with self-check-in kiosks and its signature oak-cladded spiral staircase, guests will be greeted with a vibrant anime and pop culture art piece by Taipei local graffiti artist, ANO, at the exterior entrance.
The living-room lobby concept also plays a pivotal role in welcoming guests, making it a communal space for relaxing, socialising and working. The living room is filled with local items and souvenirs, books and the latest collection of iconic Vitra furniture pieces.
The focus on art and style is prominent throughout the hotel with art sourced from around the world, including works from famous Taiwanese photographer Chou Ching Hui’s Animal Farm collection and Taiwan contemporary artist Hung Tung-Lu’s interactive art piece Lightbox.
[caption id="attachment_19232" align="alignnone" width="770"] Taiwanese photographer Chou Ching Hui’s Animal Farm is the centrepiece in the hotel's living room[/caption]
The next step for the hotel is to invite a group of local art students to create artworks to be displayed in the rooms and adorn the facade. “Our philosophy is to give back to the community. We hope to give local artist a platform to showcase their talents,” comments Edmond Ip, Vice Chairman of Artyzen Group.
One other signature to the Taipei property is the noodle station in canteenM, the dining and cocktail space inside the Living Room on the first floor that opens 24 hours a day. Aside from barista-made coffee, pastries, light sushi lunches and hot feasts, guests can prepare their own Asian-flavour cup noodle for the late night snacks.
[caption id="attachment_19234" align="alignnone" width="428"] The noodle bar is a first for citizenM where guests can mix their own bowl of instant noodle[/caption]
After setting the footprint in Taipei, citizenM will continue its regional expansion in Asia. The next to open will be Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur in 2018, with Jakarta and Hong Kong in the pipeline.
Allan Yip, Vice-President of Marketing, Distribution and Brands at Artyzen Hospitality Group says the brand is catering to the changing need of the customers, whether for business or travel, “For us, it’s key to get cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore and Hong Kong. Lots of business hotels still run traditionally, but look at our product, our DNA, location and view, I think we’re in a strong position.”
[caption id="attachment_19240" align="alignnone" width="395"] The signature oak-cladded spiral staircase connects the stylish entrance and the living room[/caption]
The rapid development of artificial intelligence is matched only by concerns – some well-founded, some not – about its impact on human creativity and more generally our society. Two Hong Kong creatives – product designer Johan Persson of C’Monde Studios and architect Alexander Wong, founder of his eponymous practice – eschew fears of a Kubrick-esque cybernetic takeover to consider a vision in which AI plays an increasingly important and complementary role, at least in the design process
Designers often pride themselves on their creative ingenuity and ability to translate complex abstract thoughts into real objects. As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more pervasive, designers are becoming nervous – for good reason. Fortune predicts the value of AI to grow to US$70 billion by 2020. We are living in an AI boom, where machines mimic the human brain and, in many cases, outperform it.
[caption id="attachment_19210" align="alignnone" width="550"] Johan Persson[/caption]
TOOL FOR VALUE INNOVATION
Human-centred innovation with true competitive value begins with developing an understanding of customers’ unmet or unarticulated needs. One of the greatest struggles for designers has long been creating objects that work well for individuals, all of the time. Enter AI.
AI stretches innovation by allowing designers to cater to, and anticipate, individual users’ needs. Emotion-sensing AI technology built into products detects users’ emotions and drives positive behaviour change. A brilliant example is Emospark, a cube-shaped AI home device that uses language analysis and facial recognition to assess human emotions and map an emotional profile to deliver selected music, video and images to enhance the mood.
Products are no longer just performing basic functions, but are aware of their surroundings and users’ emotions, and can act upon them.
[caption id="attachment_19211" align="alignnone" width="550"] Alexander Wong[/caption]
The future of design will be very much affected by the use of artificial intelligence, and it’s causing a lot of undue fear and stress in our profession. People are asking questions like “Where will AI lead us?” and “Who will survive this seismic shift in our profession?”
FAST AND FURIOUS
In fact, AI will speed up the design process by solving problems faster, producing more options to choose from. It will focus on a more solution-driven or context-specific way of designing, and it give us the chance to remove all historical clichés. AI will really enhance the human ability to design and not diminish it in any way – we just have to learn how to adapt ourselves as we go along and make the most of this new technology. So being frightened of AI is not the way forward – we cannot be Luddites!
[caption id="attachment_19212" align="alignnone" width="770"] Dragon bench by Joris Laarman[/caption]
This new technology will also indirectly include more people outside the design industry; they’ll have a real say in “designing for the future”, particularly through findings from big data. AI could also learn from – and predict – human behaviour, and aid the process of design evolution through the collection of big data at each stage of the design process. New technology will also accelerate the exchange of ideas by connecting everything globally on the net.
AI streamlines the design process by removing undue complexities from designers’ everyday lives, so we as a profession can spend more time experiencing our own designs or those by others which will in turn improve the quality of our design thinking.
This is an excerpt from the "AI: Friend or foe?” article from the October 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
Alan Chan, one of the city’s most renowned designers, talks to Perspective about forging a Hong Kong design identity, East-West directions and the cultural connections of tea
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Alan Chan is one of the city's best-loved creatives. In his almost 50 years working as a designer and brand consultant he has seen Hong Kong go through many changes, influenced first by the West and then by China. Now, he says, it’s time for today’s homegrown designers to forge their own identity.
Chan’s academic training in graphic design was limited to a 10-month evening course in Hong Kong in 1970, but that didn’t stop him and the company he set up in 1980 with his wife Sandra from winning more than 600 domestic and international awards. Not one to be pigeonholed, Alan Chan Design Company has tackled a wide variety of projects from brand identity and packaging to interior design.
[caption id="attachment_19121" align="alignnone" width="550"] Alan Chan’s S Chair has become something of a signature piece Photo. Alan Chan Creations[/caption]
When he began his career in the 1970s the Hong Kong creative community was made up of expats, largely from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and some from the United States. “I learned from them and that sensitivity went into my blood in everyday life. I learned not by studying but by living everyday life,” says Chan.
The fusion of Asian and Western cultures in contemporary graphic design has been one of the defining themes of his work. Drawing on the spirit of each, he has reinterpreted them to create his own style.
[caption id="attachment_19122" align="alignnone" width="800"] In the S Table collection, individual items of furniture can be moved around each other and used in different ways, ideal for small living spaces typically found in Hong Kong Photo. Alan Chan Creations[/caption]
“Hong Kong carries the DNA of East meets West. It sounds clichéd, but it will always be true. Hong Kong is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world,” he says. His keen interest in Asian cultures and looking to his roots appealed to a Japanese audience and he’s had a strong following in Japan since his early days. “When the Japanese look at my work they feel very warm because Japanese culture came from the Tang and Sung dynasties and that is my dialogue; even though I don’t speak a word of Japanese it’s how I visually and mentally communicate with them,” he says.
Alongside his “Oriental Passion, Western Harmony” design philosophy has been a love of tea and tea culture. In the early 1990s he established teahouses in Hong Kong and Japan and designed for tea brands such as Mr Chan by Kirin. More recently, in 2016 he collaborated with Louis Vuitton in Paris to create the Journey of Tea travel trunk, complete with tea wares and accessories he designed.
[caption id="attachment_19123" align="alignnone" width="800"] Chan has designed the interior for the new Cha Ling Shanghai flagship store that also features a tea room Photo. Cha Ling[/caption]
“I love tea and believe it will always be part of our culture. I have met so many people because of my tearooms here in Hong Kong and in Osaka,” says Chan. He recalls the heady days of the 1980s when China’s big advertising agencies were filled with Hongkongers from the creatives to the management. And the territory was the benchmark for design and advertising in China.
“In Hong Kong we followed everything completely European; that’s how society grew. But then you look back to who you are. You are Chinese, so where is your aesthetic? It’s gone,” he says.
This is an excerpt from the "Cultural Evolution” article from the October 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
Designer, brand consultant and contemporary artist Stanley Wong – known to many in the art world as anothermountainman – is concerned that Hong Kong design has lost its edge
“Within our creative circle I think we’ve lost the direction – we don’t really find the uniqueness, how we stand within the boundary of China or Asia or globally because we are just doing really Westernised, other people’s styles,” says Wong.
Born in Hong Kong in 1960, he began working in the 1980s and says he was hugely influenced by Japanese design. The 12 “masters” who had the greatest impact on his in his early career – architects, fashion designers, film directors, artists and graphic designers – were all Japanese.
“In the 1980s Japanese design was so strong – stronger than European – and it made us enjoy another kind of Asian style,” says Wong who came to international attention with his “red white blue” series, which he presented at the 51 st Venice Biennale in 2005 representing Hong Kong.
[caption id="attachment_18921" align="alignnone" width="806"] Stanley Wong says his design was hugely influenced by Japanese design[/caption]
The exciting creative projects, he says, are happening across the border where mainland clients are more adventurous.
“Mainland clients will say I picked you because you haven’t done this before, they want a different perspective to look at their business. But a Hong Kong client will say, you must have done something similar before. They aren’t making any progress at all,” says Wong.
But Wong is breaking new ground in Hong Kong. This month he released his first full-length documentary film project, Dance Hong Kong. It follows three veteran dancers – Xing Liang, Mui Cheuk-yin and Yuri Ng – and was filmed with no boundaries, no stage, no form and no audience. “The dancers are my friends and the film is talking about Hong Kong nowadays, how we see Hong Kong,” he says.
Photography: Dicky Liu
Designer André Fu’s eclectic portfolio has won him recognition far beyond the borders of his native Hong Kong. In this exclusive interview for Perspective, CATHERINE SHAW talks to him about the way he views the spaces in which he works, and his penchant for collaborating with innovators
Shortly after returning to Hong Kong in 2004 to focus on developing his design studio, having gained a master’s degree in architecture at Cambridge University in the UK, André Fu was awarded a career-defining project: to create the interiors of Swire Properties’ new The Upper House hotel above the city’s prestigious shopping mall, Pacific Place.
[caption id="attachment_18872" align="alignnone" width="550"] Designer André Fu[/caption]
When the 117-room hotel opened in 2009, unveiling Fu’s fresh, bespoke take on relaxed luxury, the thoughtfully curated monochromatic interiors not only set a decidedly elegant new benchmark for contemporary hospitality, but also firmly placed the soft-spoken young designer on the world’s design radar.
Nevertheless, while some designers might have been tempted to continue delivering more of the same winning aesthetic, Fu and his studio AFSO have instead gone on to create an eclectic, evolving portfolio, including a glass teahouse-inspired restaurant and glamorous spa at Villa La Coste in the French countryside, a secret boudoir-style apartment for Louis Vuitton’s VIP clients, and an avantgarde, one-night-only, pop-up urban landscape perched atop a Hong Kong harbour-front pier for fashion house COS.
[caption id="attachment_18873" align="alignnone" width="800"] The clean lines of the atrium pool of Swire Properties’ The Upper House hotel[/caption]
This summer, Fu completed the interiors and a series of landscaped gardens for Kerry Hotels’ 16-storey, 546-room waterfront resort in Hung Hom, created an intimate, by-invitation members’ lounge, Pavilion, at Pacific Place, and unveiled a gleaming new art gallery in Tokyo.
He has also turned his attention to products, launching his own lifestyle brand in 2015 with a second collection of sophisticated, urban-inspired carpets for Tai Ping; his first range, conceived in 2011, is the brand’s best-selling product line. He’s also developed an intriguing artisanal scent with Argentine cult perfumer Julian Bedel, as well as handmade, modernist, architectural-style lamps in collaboration with Czech glass specialists Lasvit.
[caption id="attachment_18874" align="alignnone" width="800"] The Red Sugar bar at the Kerry Hotel Hong Kong. André Fu was keen to create a different sensory experience from the rest of the property[/caption]
In 2016, Fu was named Designer of the Year for Maison & Objet Asia and one of Wallpaper* magazine’s Top 20 Interior Designers. He is quick to credit Hong Kong for much of his success. “The city offers a positive mentality and drive that creates unique opportunities and is very liberating for young designers,” he says.
Irrespective of location, scale or type of project, Fu says each new commission starts with investing the time and energy it takes to fully understand the client, the brand and their specific brief or vision. “When someone walks into a space – whether it is an Andaz or a Waldorf Hotel – that is what they should see,” he says. “My signature touches may be there, but it is very important to me that the design tells a story about the brand.”
The designer says he is especially interested in how different senses combine to create a holistic experience within a space, although he notes that nowadays designers need to be aware of avoiding the temptation to design for design’s sake, particularly when it comes to creating spectacular Instagram-worthy “moments”.
[caption id="attachment_18875" align="alignnone" width="800"] Pavilion, the new by-invitation lounge at Pacific Place. Fu was given a limited, triangular space to work with[/caption]
“When I visit a site, I try to accentuate what the place already provides, adding layers without being overly decorative,” he says. “I have always been fascinated with the emotional impact of a space, particularly in the world of hospitality. Perhaps it is my exposure to different cultures that allows me to adapt to work in new environments – I trust my instincts will captivate the spirit of a place. But I never consider whether my design aesthetics belong to the East or West – my design process has always been very organic.”
This is an excerpt from the "A touch of class” article from the September 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
Steve Leung & YOO, an international interior-design company, have uncovered the designs of three units for residential project “YOO8 Serviced by Kempinski, 8 Conlay” (YOO8), the company’s second collaboration and first Malaysia-based development
YOO8 is an exceptional example of refined city living, located in Kuala Lumpur’s city centre, the residence provides imposing views of the iconic PETRONAS Twin Towers. The ideal location grants residents easy access to dining, shopping and transport options within the heart of the bustling city.
The residence is exceptional in design. Hints of nature are present within the units, incorporated into the finest of details to create an atmosphere that exudes both comfort and luxury.
Elements such as graphic black-and-white flooring, metal accents and patterned wall designs exemplify the immaculate coalescence of Steve Leung Designers Ltd. (SLD) modern style and YOO’s lively details.
The concept behind the designs is one heavily influenced by traditional Chinese philosophy; the units were created with the intention of having a “harmony between human and nature”. The ideology is evidenced in azure accents and lavish marbled surfaces, embodying the relaxing effect and elegance of flowing water. It was of great importance to Mr. Steve Leung that the units encompass these elements, particularly Wood and Water, as they symbolise purity and calmness, providing escape from the bustle of city life.
Another important aspect considered by Steve Leung & YOO was that of space. The architects emphasised the flexibility of space usage, with most units containing open or semi-open kitchens and open-plan living-rooms. Maximisation of space usage is of utmost importance in the modern-day real estate market, with buildings increasing in height and living spaces decreasing in size. The incorporation of interactive living and dining room areas ensures that every inch of space is utilised.
By merging natural elements, delicate designs and the ideas of two renowned architects, YOO8 has become the epitome of refined and energetic living.
Chinese architect MAD is to design the futuristic headquarters of electric car manufacturers Faraday Future in the United States.
The development, covering an area of about 130,000 sq-m on the site of an abandoned naval base on Mare Island, in Northern California, will house the research, development and manufacturing bases of the company, which makes the world’s fastest accelerating electric car.
The highlight of the headquarters is the user experience centre, a space-age-looking sculptural tower from where customers can observe cars before they buy them and watch as the vehicles are transported along an elevated light rail link from the warehouse to the exhibition hall.
Prioritising the project’s “zero-emission, low energy” ambition, the structures utilises large roof overhangs, internal courtyards, and operable glass façade systems to passively reduce solar gains and allow for natural ventilation and climate modification.
The transparency allows the office spaces to become directly related to day-to-day employee and visitor experiences, and a working demonstration of broader social agenda. Roofs are entirely surfaced with modulated solar power panels, with enough production capacity to support the entire campus’ daily operational demands. The Experience tower is also equipped with wind power generators to further meet campus’s daily energy needs.