A creative partnership between boutique hotel Naumi Hotel and interior design students, with the support of local design businesses, is proving that it is possible. Pamela Ho finds out more about Project 210, a Singapore Design Week 2019 programme.
What would you do with one windowless room on your hotel property? Well, what Naumi Hotel Singapore did was to turn it into a blank canvas for young designers to leave their mark – albeit temporarily. Think a pop-up room concept – refreshed with a new commission every quarter.
Named Project 210 (after the room number), the initiative invites interior design students from local tertiary institutions to transform Room 210 into a space that appeals to the next generation of travellers. The winning team is then given free rein – and full support in sponsorship and mentorship – to convert their idea into reality.
“This project is the perfect platform to mix design and education,” says Peter Wong, Vice President of Naumi Hotels, which has education as one of their pillars of philanthropy. “The students get hands-on experience working with local businesses – such as Goodrich Global, XTRA, Guerilla X and Matsushita – and we’re on hand to provide practical and operational advice. Mentorship is key.”
Keeping it fresh
Naumi, an award-winning 73-room luxury boutique hotel located at Seah Street, prides itself for being a design-led establishment – one that avoid cookie-cutter styles in its room décor.
This Gen Z initiative adds a fresh dimension to the hotel’s unique selling point as aspiring young designers “push the boundaries of creativity to bring an entirely different energy and inspiration to the property,” says Wong. “This is the first time we’ve offered a design brief to attract the next generation traveller, and that brings a new level to our design ethos.”
In fact, this pop-up room is a playful addition to their current inventory of four designer-themed rooms. In both their Singapore and Auckland properties, Naumi has rooms inspired by designers such as Andy Warhol, Coco Chanel, Yayoi Kusama and Missoni.
We’ve always had an ethos of creating unique experiences through art and design … each design will transport us into the imagination of its creator, offering their own fresh take.
In line with this, the winning team, which comprises Nurul Hanis, Nia Astira, Nuri Khairiyyah and Tracy Lim (final-year Retail and Hospitality Design students from Temasek Polytechnic) picked Tyler, The Creator – a creative personality in music, TV and fashion – as their design inspiration.
Capturing the essence
Tyler, The Creator is next-gen. His colourful and bold style – influenced by 70’s street, hip hop and skate culture – is, according to the Gen Z team, inspiring how young people express themselves today.
“The room itself reflects the lyrics of his latest album, Flower Boy, which speaks about finding yourself and finding someone who values you completely,” Hanis elaborates. “In our design, we wanted to impart the idea that growth, when positive, should be celebrated.”
Their bold concept uses colour-blocking. “The interior includes a cacophony of colours from the album art, which uses clashing colours and patterns to disrupt the eye,” Nia explains. “This design comes together to evoke feelings of a dreamlike state and playfulness, which is the overall vibe of the album and his persona.”
Lessons beyond design
Redesigning the room came with challenges – and it being windowless wasn’t one of them.
“One of the challenges was the shape of Room 210, which has a structural wall in the middle of it. This forced us to be more creative and careful with the elements to ensure that the room didn’t feel small,” says Nuri, adding that another challenge was liaising independently with suppliers – a first for all of them.
But the takeaways, too, were a-plenty. “We learnt the importance of the idea that design is continuously evolving,” says Lim. “The concept of a space being ‘Instagrammable’ wasn’t something designers cared about 10 years ago, but today, it’s an element that makes or breaks the appeal of a space.”
Business and pleasure
But is being “Instagrammable” over-rated?
Naumi’s Peter Wong thinks not. “The internet and social media are here to stay. Today, people tend to trust what they see on social media more than professional reviews. It gives a personal viewpoint, which resonates better with young people, and highly influences their decision-making.”
And like the fast-changing content on social media, Room 210 will also be revamped with a fresh look every few months.
Surya Jhunijhnuwala, Founder and Managing Director of Naumi Hotels, says: “We’ve always had an ethos of creating unique experiences through art and design, and we’re honoured to give the next generation of aspiring designers the opportunity to transform our hotel. Each design will transport us into the imagination of its creator, offering their own fresh take.”