Singapore-based resort designer Rengy John shares some insights into Southeast Asia’s rapidly changing hospitality sector
After working for 14 years with Singapore-based interior design firm Wilson Associates, Rengy John has now made the move to Blink Design Group, where he joins creative giant Clint Nagata as co-CEO of an outfit that has worked on luxury hotel and resort projects from Bali to Istanbul. The heavyweight designer spoke to Southeast Asia Globe about seeking a holistic, intuitive approach to hotel design and the changing face of luxury in the Asian century.
How has people’s perception of luxury changed over the years?
If I were to look at it right now as to where we stand and where Asia is, I think the luxury market has become a lot younger. You find a lot of younger folk in their mid-twenties to their mid-to-early-thirties who are fairly affluent, want to travel, want to experience something, and that section is one we should pay attention to. They’re not looking for what their parents were looking for – they’re after different experiences. They’re looking for satisfaction, for a story to tell. They’re expecting to spend time with their friends – that is their version of luxury.
What are some of the skills that you have found essential throughout your career in design?
I think the ability to adapt to change is quite important. The ability to accept and show respect to cultural differences as well. Appreciation for culture and respect I think are very, very important – how do we work with clients from China, or Japanese clients, or Vietnamese, or Korean? A lot of patience is important – you have to be fairly dogged in your approach to your business, because the relationships last a lifetime. Your average projects are between three to six years in duration – you need to sustain really good relationships throughout that period of time. Staying power within the industry is very important.
How do you see the hospitality sector in Asia looking in ten to 15 years?
There’s always going to be growth – but different sectors will grow at different rates. I think where you will continue to see growth is in leisure, because with the growth of the airline industry, of travel, you need new destinations to be available. And once areas in Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East start to get connected with proper infrastructure, you will need new destinations. Customers are always looking for a new experience. So as long as we can imagine those, and we have developers who are willing to push themselves, those are the kinds of projects we will continue to get.