What was the main idea behind the Valet collection? "The furniture line [a 14-piece collection, ranging from a bar cart to lounge seating, made in Shanghai by Stellar Works] is about transitions, going from the hustle and bustle of the street to your home. What do you do with your stuff when you get in? What about when you go from home to entertaining? We wanted to combine multiple functions and make the pieces portable so you could pick them up and rearrange them."
You kept the materials palette purposely spare. "Everything is rigorously made out of American walnut, brushed brass, black steel and full-grain cognac saddle leather. We really wanted saddle leather - so much leather now is almost like plastic because it has so many finishing products."
Is designing furniture for a hotel or restaurant different from designing for the general public? "It's a different toolbox but it's the same thought process. What is the narrative? Is it familiar and surprising - two things we like all our projects to have. How is it useful? Does it fill a need that is not filled right now on the market?"
What is the most difficult aspect of designing a hotel? "Hotels are challenging because every piece of design is under the microscope and there's a lot of problem solving required. There is no other area of design where people expect to be able to reach the phone, turn the lights off and control the heat without moving from their beds. You are always much more demanding in a hotel than in your own home."
What have been the most significant changes in hospitality over the past decade? "Hospitality design is becoming more experience-driven. Hotels, in particular, are becoming social hubs for tourists and locals. Travellers increasingly want rooms that provide more of a residential experience. This is one of the reasons we designed Valet because it's about having what you need where you need it."
Do you have a favourite project? "NeueHouse [a co-working space-meets-private members' club] is one of my favourites. As a studio our focus has always been on making something new, regardless of scale or type. Both the New York and Hollywood locations of NeueHouse are a mash-up of work and social spaces. They incorporate elements you might find in a hotel with the feel of a private club."
The Valet collection will be available from August at the Stellar Works showroom in Amelie & Tulips, 56 Sai Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2291 0005