Extracts from the interview with Jon Grant for Wallpaper.
Your works have won many awards. What do you think are the key factors that helped you win these awards?
Our works are big scale impressive projects. I think the scale that we are working to is very impressive, but I also think that the UK influence in our design and philosophy also shines through in our projects. I think it has a nice proportion and elegance to it.
What are the key concerns that you consider when you work on a project?
We are more commercially minded. We are solving the problems in the brief. With property value and land value increasing in Southeast Asia we have to solve the problem of making the project commercially profitable. If it’s a hotel, we have to give them the right amount of room. If it’s a shopping mall you have to get the leasable area. That’s the problem we’re solving. If we can solve those problems then we can meet the client’s aspiration.
You’ve worked in many places in the world. When you design for a certain place, do you draw inspiration from the place or consider the surroundings and the culture?
Yes. We have got to be culturally sensitive in every place we go. People are different. They move around space differently. Different climates. Different colors of the landscape. Different types of trees. All relating to the local environment. You have to work with local people as well. The skill set is different and knowledge is different. You have to really accommodate all these different factors. A lot of clients say let’s do standard design, so it can be built quickly. But it doesn’t work that way. You have to look at every site, every context in a different way and approach it in different manner as well. That gives each design a difference and a little bit of its own identity.
In each different section, retail, hospitality, F&B, residential, are there different factors you have to consider?
Of course, the difference is in both the function of the space and in how the space is used. If it’s a work place people spend a lot of time there working. If it’s a hotel, people will be spending less time there. If it’s residential then it’s more personal and people are more personally attached to it. If it’s a shopping mall, it has to have destinations where people can hang out all day. It all has its individual focus.
Part of designing is selecting colors. In different sectors are there colors that are more or less suitable?
Color is very personal. But if its commercial space and related to brand identity then the colors are communication tools. In your house you’d pick safer colors, we pick brighter colors in boutique hotels, In chain 3 star hotels, colors may be more neutral. It all really depends on usage.
You can use color to communicate the essence of your brand. Or in sending a message or to provoke. There is a lot of psychology behind color, especially in restaurants. Some colors make you feel hungry, some colors don’t. Orange makes you feel hungry. Red could make you feel angry. But then again everybody is different. Some people like black and some like white. You can’t just make everybody happy in one space.
Tell us about the wall finish of your choice, Fractalis Etno?
The wall, this is the Chapman Taylor color. We took inspiration from our name card. The silver works nicely out of this color. We’ve been using Imagica for various projects we’re working on in Thailand. I’m always looking for new products, for different ideas for the projects. Clients are always wanting something different. With Etno we can do many things with it. The texture is slightly different from what we have seen before. It draws people in. It makes people want to get closer and look at it and touch it. Etno gave our workspace a subtle design flare and with lighting you get a gleam and shine to it. It can be used with many kinds of projects as well. We are using it in a wine bar that we are working on. I like the flexibility of the color choice, the technique and the varied texture you can create with it. I also like the fact that Imagica get everything done for us. Their technician will come in and do the wall for you. A lot of suppliers can’t supply installation but these guys can get the job done from start to finish.