INTERIOR designers have to cross a lot of hurdles with key one in many Asian countries being a culture of conforming and not sticking out which affects good design concepts, Design Worldwide Partnership (DWP) CEO Brenton Mauriello said recently.
This sort of a mindset is normal in China and the Middle East where people conform and don’t step out of line but is not prevalent in all Asian countries with South Asians often being different.
“Sometimes in Asia, because of the education, developing out their concepts and maintaining a concept is quite difficult.
“It’s all very rote learning and you need to be very creative and have associations between colors and textures and feelings and that is quite difficult in a culture and social setting where it’s very hierarchical, it’s very defined, sticking out is not seen as great.”
Mr Mauriello has found that some of his Asian clients have great difficulty following their concept through with a lot of designers also having to struggle terribly with it.
“Their ability to have a logical approach to a concept or a vision – it’s very difficult for them – they just see things that they like and they start adding them on and then we must challenge them and say ‘alright, what was your vision?’
“And they go all over the place and it drives us nuts – that’s when you have problems.”
An example Mr Mauriello gave about sticking to a concept is perhaps a person was walking on a beach one day and upon feeling the cool, fresh wind which is very bracing and invigorating says he wants his resort to have that same feeling.
In design terms this means having open areas where wind can come through, some blues and sand and rough textures instead of soft, bright shiny ones.
“And then every time you design a room or a restaurant, you have to say ‘I put this chair in there or this carpet because you see how it ties back to the sea.’
“Every time we see a concept or a design, it’s simple, you ask why do you have that there, if it can’t tie back to the concept, it shouldn’t be there.
“If they can’t say ‘I put that reception desk or I put that table there because its reflective of my concept’ then it shouldn’t be there, what’s the point?”
If the concept is not followed through then the design breaks down and ends up looking a bit mixed and does not quite hang together and that is when one runs into difficulty.
Mr Mauriello is firm about seeing a concept through and sometimes does not let the client change things, such as a particular color, because the one chosen ties well with the concept.
Others challenges he has had in running DWP is, as one might expect, clients not paying their bills or pay them slowly.
“On payments, and if a project gets extended, it doesn’t become unviable but from design point of view difficulties arise when we don’t follow procedure and/or things are rushed.
“Invariably if you rush a project, if you miss a step, you pay for it and then the project becomes difficult.”
Top: The interior of a spa at Le Meridien Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City designed by DWP.
Inset: DWP CEO Brenton Mauriello at his Jones the Grocer restaurant within EmQuartier.
By Nina Suebsukcharoen