In Conversation With André Fu, Designer Of Andaz Hotel Singapore
We talk with André Fu about his inspiration, what guests should look out for and how to keep calm and carry on in a chaotic world.
BY Wayne Cheong | Feb 18, 2018 | Design
The unseen hand is behind many of the things you see. And for the design of Andaz Hotel Singapore, that hand belongs to André Fu. As an already established designer with several projects under his belt like The Upper House in Hong Kong or even candles, the design of the Andaz Hotel Singapore is as much of a credit to the neighbourhood the hotel sits in as much as it is to Fu himself.
When it came to the “alleyway experience” with your design for Andaz Hotel Singapore, how much did you draw from living in Hong Kong? Is the shophouse a uniquely Singaporean quality?
I have been visiting Singapore for the past 10 years due to various work commitment and I have only discovered the unique nature of the alley experience whilst immersing myself with the context of the Andaz and its neighbourhood.
To me, the main inspiration for the “alleyway experience” was from walking through the surrounding local areas of Kampong Glam, Bras Basah and Bugis. My vision is to reinterpret the hotel’s dynamic location, neighbourhood’s eclectic passageways and shophouse experiences to create a Singapore-style alleyway experience.
There are many alleys and narrow streets in Hong Kong, yet the cultural context I seek to express within Andaz is very specific to the neighbourhood of Arab Street and Bugis.
I see the intricate play of intimate proportions within the alleys evoking a sense of discovery while showcasing each shophouse’s own personality and character. Again, this is an experience that is quintessentially Singapore.
Which architecture speaks to you?
I am drawn to the modernist era–the notion of a purist and urbanistic approach to lifestyle. I admire the works of Rudolf Schindler, Carlo Scarpa and Le Corbusier.
In the context of Andaz Singapore, the intention is not to replicate the alley or the shophouse itself, but finding a means to capture the spirit of it with an emphasis on modernity. The intricate play of intimate proportions within the alleys evoke a sense of discovery and each shophouse is given its own personality and character.
In terms of particular spaces, I am very fond of [the] Sunroom–conceived as a modernist expression of the Peranakan house, it is an airy timber-lined lounge decked with lush hanging ferns.
When a guest checks in at Andaz Singapore, what should he or she look out for with regards to your design?
Andaz Singapore was designed as a multi-layered cultural journey that conveys a modern expression of luxury yet captures the vibrant atmosphere of the surrounding local areas such as Kampong Glam, Bras Basah and Bugis.
The shophouse alleys at Andaz Singapore aim to allow guests to experience a strong sense of discovery–an experience that is quintessential to Singapore’s distinct juxtaposition of cultures. Guests are encouraged to engage with a destination and experience it authentically.
The experience of the guestroom embraces the neighbourhood spirit. Conceived as a contemporary bungalow, I’ve introduced whimsical moments throughout the room–from the entrance doorbell that is housed in a bespoke post-box, the slender shop-house doors in bold mango yellow to the floor-to-ceiling ivory panelling. The room experience is also punctuated with ethnic touches in aubergine and mud tangerine to celebrate Singapore as a city where multiple cultures amalgamate.
In essence, the Andaz spirit is about having guests arrive as tourists, but leave as locals.
Why did you decide to set up shop in Hong Kong instead of in the UK?
Having spent 14 years in the United Kingdom, I was offered a few commissions in Shanghai and my return to Hong Kong took place organically.
At the time, I felt that Asia, as a whole, was still deeply dependent on western influences and struggling to reinterpret its cultural context in a spatial context–perhaps it was the unique timing that prompt me to stay in Asia and set up my studio in my hometown, Hong Kong.
Can you still create spaces of calm and comfort in a world that is now becoming more increasingly chaotic?
I am a stronger believer in curating spaces that are timeless–spaces that culminates a sense of calm and environments that evokes comfort. I trust these are the very essence of experiences that everyone is after.
After all, my role as a spatial architect is not about creating spectacles–it is about creating environments for people to be indulged in.