WHILE design knows no borders and can effortlessly spread to all corners of the globe the key to success is adapting to different cultures and this is exactly what a Thai designer and his team did with hotel projects in India.
This designer is none other than Niwat Aunprueng, senior partner of P Interior and Associates (PIA) whose company has designed the interiors of a few five-star hotels in India including Crowne Plaza New Delhi, Pune Marriott, Claridges Surajkund Delhi and Trident Gurgaon.
“We were the first company to go work in India and it was Mr Oberoi who took us there.”
He first had to accustom himself to the Indian lifestyle where people start working at 10 a.m. and continue till 9 or 10 p.m. with dinner being at 11 p.m. He also had to come to terms with the massive income gap where the rich have an abundant of all that life has to offer such as an airstrip and a trotting track within the extensive compound of the mansions while for the poor the street is their home.
“Indians are very good at calculating, when it comes to calculations you have to hand it to them – materials, money, everything has to be correctly calculated.
“And they give more importance to materials than design. No matter how good the design may be, if the materials are not to their liking, they won’t accept it.
“For example stone, we usually use 60 by 60 centimeters slabs which we think is plush enough but they want one meter by two meters slabs because they have huge sourcing.”
Mr Niwat has found that Indians do not at all like the minimal look and want a hundred percent luxury in every detail. They seem to appreciate the classic, colonial look touched up with local fabric.
“They are proud of their fabric, they think they produce the best fabrics in the world – their silk is beautiful and their embroidery super.”
Indians are also extremely proud of their culture and in working out interior design for them up to 30 to 40 percent of the artifacts have to be Indian, primarily stone sculptures.
On the perplexing question as to why Indians would hire Thai designers to decorate their hotels, Mr Niwat said this could be because they appreciate the Thai designers’ taste and their common oriental heritage.
“What they get from us is clean luxury and adding this to their classic look it leads to a new dimension in design which is a mix of Indian and Thai cultures.
“Indians are still caught up with their classic look but we cleaned up the space … you can say comparatively we have a clean oriental luxury look.”
Mr Niwat added that Indians really like the look his company is able to create because it is smart and chic and is something very different in India.
TOP: The lobby of a hotel in India designed by PIA.
INSET: Mr Niwat says good materials are very important to Indians.
BELOW: Amazing lights at an Indian hotel which PIA designed.
FURTHER DOWN: A hotel restaurant in India also designed by PIA.
By Nanthida Kumari