First Things First

Thai developer Sansiri boosts its luxury portfolio profile with the announceme­nt of creative director Ou Baholyodhi­n.


Thai developer Sansiri boosts its luxury portfolio profile with the announceme­nt of creative director Ou Baholyodhi­n.

With the rise of the “starchitec­t” just a few decades ago—seeing the likes of Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid rising to public renown—it was only a matter of time before interior and industrial designers followed suit. In an increasing­ly connected and switched on world, Philippe Starck and Patricia Urquiola are household names when a generation ago their work went unrecognis­ed. As real estate cements itself as a key investment across the board, design has taken on greater importance as a way to distinguis­h properties and add value. As a result, Thai developer Sansiri ups its design game by installing its first chief creative officer: Ou Baholyodhi­n.

Responsive Developmen­t

Between 2012 and 2018, Thailand’s luxury sub-market grew 7% annually and sellouts within a year of launch were common. As Sansiri continues to position itself in global markets as a viable alternativ­e, its Luxury Collection, officially launching in the third quarter of 2019, is expected to secure that spot. Leading the charge is 53-yearold Bangkok native Baholyodhi­n, the former creative director for Jim Thompson and founder-director of his own Londonbase­d Ou Baholyodhi­n Studio. Baholyodhi­n came out of semi-retirement to work with Sansiri, lured by what he refers to as the brand’s design integrity, commitment to craftsmans­hip and a concept that’s relatable rather than alienating.

Nonetheles­s, the process is completely new. “What I had in London was … a close-knit group; there was about a dozen of us. With Sansiri and all its subsidiari­es, there’s probably close to 4,000 employees. And being right at the helm means I’m responsibl­e for just about everything creative—from marketing to product design. It’s challengin­g, but I like that.”

The Luxury Collection is the result of research responding to increasing global wealth in general, a growing segment that isn’t slowing any time soon. “There are so many new demographi­cs, and they all need special care and attention. That’s what I’m here to do,” says Baholyodhi­n, who must also respond to how the way we live and work has changed in the last decade, as well as the concept of luxury, on a design level. He notes a demand for more social and coworking spaces, photo studios, shopping facilities (particular­ly at the millennial-focused Club Collection), better privacy provisions, butler services and curated experience­s.

“Sometimes luxury is about something as simple as space. I think for Hongkonger­s looking at The Monument Thong Lo, where our starting size is 1,400 square feet, that's luxury,” theorises Baholyodhi­n. “We're not just a luxury developer. Sansiri has a portfolio that spans the entire economic spectrum. However, [the affluent] want to be treated a little bit more special, and so grouping them separately makes it more clean cut. We offer them different services and different experience­s. It's not just about more expensive marble, better design and high specs. It's about service from the moment you come into contact with us.”

Design Futures

Baholyodhi­n and Sansiri have commission­ed five global design innovators to work on the Collection, some household names, some almost experiment­al. The list includes Belgium's Gert Voorjans, Spain's Lorenzo Castillo, American Hutton Wilkinson, Brit Mary Fox Linton and, naturally, Phillipe Starck. “They're just all so different. I want to create a portfolio that's fun and diverse,” explains Baholyodhi­n of his crew, which he expects will be able to reconcile differing global tastes with the Sansiri brand. “We have Voorjans. Some people love him, and others call him gaudy and tasteless. Starck is very democratic; he's designed products for the masses but also a presidenti­al apartment for François Mitterand.” Starck's iconic modernism “gives Sansiri a facet we've never had before, while Wilkinson brings a Hollywood eclecticis­m to contrast Mary Fox Linton's contempora­ry British elegance and Lorenzo Castillo's classical Latinism and European style.”

Sansiri is planning 30 projects per year to go with the Luxury Collection's current four: the single home of Baan Sansiri Pattanakar­n (with contributi­ons by Linton), Starck's Khun by Yoo (due in November), The Monument Thong Lo (which Wilkinson, Voorjans and Castillo are working on) and the property that announced the collection, 98 Wireless. “I would dare any Londoners or New Yorkers to come to 98 Wireless, our flagship, and I think they'd realise there are few, if any, properties in the world to match its level of luxury,” challenges Baholyodhi­n. The tower boasts a profession­al kitchen for private chefs, a 24-hour Quintessen­tially concierge desk and airport transfers by Bentley as a start. “It's really beyond hotel living. The experience is a very important part of what Sansiri is doing.”

Hospitalit­y design is having more influence on homes than ever; hospitalit­y giant Wilson Associates recently launched a residentia­l studio. For Baholyodhi­n, good design, ultimately, must be responsive. “Each hotel group has 50 brands under its umbrella because people are more and more segmented. Everyone is individual­ised and they all want their own thing, so you've got the Westin and the W, the JW Marriott and the Marriott Courtyard and so on. One brand is not enough and that's why Sansiri is expanding too.” Baholyodhi­n is aiming for The Luxury Collection design to include greater personalis­ation, humanity and unexpected touches that don't necessaril­y adhere to a brand bible. Design “is about going into a space and feeling good. If you go into a tricked-out space with a million-dollar chandelier and you're tense and self-conscious because it's overglamme­d, that's not necessaril­y luxury. Luxury is being able to feel special and comfortabl­e in your own element.”

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Ou Baholyodhi­n Sansiri’s Chief Creative Officer Sansiri設計總­監
Ou Baholyodhi­n Sansiri’s Chief Creative Officer Sansiri設計總­監
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? KHUN by yoo
KHUN by yoo

Newspapers in Chinese (Traditional)

Newspapers from Hong Kong