The Hong Kong Architect Redefining What Business Travel Can Be

The legendary André Fu on business travel and where he likes to check in.

The Hong Kong Architect Redefining What Business Travel Can Be

Photo courtesy of The Upper House

In 2009, when he was only 30, architect André Fu made his mark on the Hong Kong hotel scene by designing the interiors of the sleek Upper House. We caught up with the Hong Kong–based designer just after the spring opening of his second hometown project, a Shangri-La Kerry Hotel.

When it comes to hotels, what’s your overall design philosophy?

I’m interested in the simple things, such as what it feels like to be a guest inside the space, whether the guests feel at ease, and whether they feel that the space has been designed for them. That, for me, is luxury—going beyond superficial decorative grandeur and focusing more on that physical experience.

What was your concept for the Kerry?

On a macro level, it’s an urban resort: an escape from the city in an urban setting. In some ways, we are trying to redefine what business travel can be. I don’t think there’s a real distinction anymore between travel for business and travel for leisure; it’s all mixed together. You want to be in a hotel that has all the facilities that cater to business, but it’s even more important for that kind of hotel to provide on-site experiences beyond that—things like unique dining options, a great spa, and inviting public spaces.

Describe the hotel for us.

The hotel is right on Victoria Harbor, and it has more than 500 rooms, a spa, three restaurants, a bar, and a food hall. Water is a key part of the design. We use a lot of a color called mineral blue, and there’s a recurring water ripple theme, whether in the bronze screens in the elevator lobby or the pattern of the carpets. The large scale is very different from the more intimate projects I usually work on, but I still wanted to bring in that same intimacy by carving out smaller spaces throughout. The alfresco terrace next to the Red Sugar bar has semiprivate areas shaded by trees, and they offer 270-degree views—you feel like you’re almost floating over the harbor.

What hotels do you obsess over?

One memorable stay I had was at the Parco dei Principi in Sorrento, Italy, designed by the late Italian architect Gio Ponti. It opened in 1962, and I love its Mediterranean spirit. The whole place is decked out with blue-and-white custom-made tiles, along with all of Ponti’s custom-made furniture. Another hotel I love is the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which inspired my love for hospitality and hotel design. It’s been open for more than 20 years now, and it remains timeless. That’s the kind of design I aspire to achieve. Doubles from $245.

>> Next: Why It’s Time to Visit Hong Kong Now

Jennifer Flowers is an award-winning journalist and the senior deputy editor of AFAR.
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