Luxury hotel interior designer opens Parnell studio - Lifestyle NZ
Luxury hotel interior designer opens Parnell studio

Luxury hotel interior designer opens Parnell studio

International hotel interior designer opens Parnell studio to collaborate with architects and developers

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Just 60km from the sprawling metropolis of Hong Kong, surrounded by mountains on a pristine white sand beach on Shenzhen’s Southern Coastline, the 368 key, 5-star Sheraton Da Mei Sha Hotel and resort is an award-winning landmark architectural building by Terry Farrell & Partners. It harnesses the energy of the location, while complementing the local topography.

The main building’s sinuous organic form has a fluid, wave-like structure, reminiscent of a mythical Chinese sea dragon. Based on a series of differing radial points, the complex form cleverly allows every guest room and suite to enjoy expansive, front-facing sea views.

It is just one of several prestigious large-scale luxury projects that Leigh Pryde, founder and creative director of Conqubine in Auckland was responsible for during her eight years with renowned global hospitality interior design giant, Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA). Leigh led the design for all the public areas of this iconic property from concept through to completion.

Says Leigh: “Among the many different areas of the hotel, the lobby, with its impressive glass atrium roof structure, vast scale and unobstructed ocean views, makes the single greatest impact on guests. Careful consideration of this important area, together with the client’s brief, hotel operator’s requirements and the context, guided my interior design concept for the myriad public areas.”

The client, Kingkey Group, was a Chinese property development firm with a reputation for commissioning large, iconic architectural buildings. Their brief was simple, to design a luxury, world-class destination hotel with an urban resort feel. And the overarching directive from Starwood Hotels Group, the hotel operator, was to design a progressive, luxury 5-star property with a contemporary aesthetic that aligned with the group’s Sheraton Hotel brand to become a showcase property for the brand. 

"One main point of difference for resort hotels compared with business hotels is guest stays are typically longer. It’s an opportunity for guests to relax and unwind, so a sense of arrival is crucial. How the guest feels and interacts with a designed environment is extremely important" 

Well-considered, cohesive design, Leigh elaborates, heightens the guest experience through its ability to trigger an uplifting emotional response. 

“Those reactions to a design environment spark tangible, memorable experiences that ultimately translate to brand loyalty, which is high on the agenda for all luxury hotels and luxury projects in general.

“It’s the element of storytelling inherent in the design that makes all of that possible,“ says Leigh.

How the guest feels and interacts with a designed environment is extremely important...

The sense of arrival is immediately felt through the interior design of the lobby space. The dynamic space brings in vibrant colour, refracts the natural sunlight and harnesses the drama and scale of the architecture. Powerful feature elements layered one upon the other build drama and are used to great effect. Capturing the essence of the location, they balance the attributes of the space and create a human scale.

In developing the concepts for the lobby, she looked to nature and the surrounding environment for inspiration, drawing from marine flora, fauna and underwater landscapes. The dramatic area rug which anchors feature elements, evokes the movement of kelp swaying in the tide. Its powerful scale draws guests into the design narrative. 

“With the extremely fast-track nature of this project’s timeline, some of these intricate, grand-scale lobby features represented an enormous challenge,” says Leigh. “The length of time required for R&D and the whole approvals process placed a lot of pressure on the manufacturers to meet installation deadlines.”

Bringing nature inside was also important. Impressive triple-height water walls, reflection pools, bamboo groves and natural sunlight soften the space, lending harmony and balance to the interior. Through sensitive selection of materials, this feeling flows through the hotel as guests move from one space to the next.

“The feeling of seamless flow and transition between differing environments within a hotel is very important,” Leigh adds.

Leigh is keen to collaborate with architects and developers looking for designers with international experience. She welcomes the opportunity to utilise her creativity to make high-end commercial or private residential projects a standout.

Get in touch with Leigh to discuss your next project.

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