Luna2 Melanie Hall interview

Living Etc, Indonesia


In September 2014 Living Etc, Indonesia chose Luna2’s Melanie Hall for the magazine’s “Designer Profile”.

Read the full interview below.


Biggest achievement in your design life:

Undoubtedly, the opening day of Luna2 studiotel, last April 2013. It is the most reflective of my work to date, and the most complete, as it showcases every aspect of what I can do.

1. Your father was a well-known architect, how much of an influence was he for you?

My father, Alan Chambers was, to me, a visionary architect of the 50’s and 60’s; he instilled in me a love of modernist architecture & interior design. He travelled the world to visit and document great modernist works, many of which I referenced when designing Luna2 private hotel and Luna2 studiotel. He passed away in 1997, and I continue to see things through his eyes. (I trust he is looking down at me with a proud smile!) Amazingly, one of the homes he designed and built in the early 60’s in the UK was recently awarded a Grade 2 listing, and was remarked as being one of the best examples of in-tact modernist designs – both for its architecture and interior design. (Incidentally, he lived in the tropics for about 40 years, and I never once saw him wear a pair of touristy shorts or sandals…He was impeccable in his style, and smooth as James Bond!)

2. From all your travels growing up, which country left the deepest impression on you? Have you ever incorporated any of the things you found in your designs?

I guess it was St Lucia in the Caribbean. I am truly an island girl with a passion for very urban luxuries (if that makes sense?!) Design-wise, I didn’t take too much inspiration from the Caribbean, but it does make me realise that they are certainly ready for a new wave of modern design! They certainly know how to build on sheer hillsides, which would be relevant to construction in Lombok for example. It’s the lifestyle in the Caribbean that was so enjoyable, great for entrepreneurs, with lots of room for expression.

3. You worked both in fashion and interior, was it hard for you to transition from one to the other?

It was a natural transition for me, having worked in creative roles in the fashion industry. I worked in Hong Kong during 1996 and 1997 as Head of Creative for Calvin Klein Southeast Asia, during which time I was responsible for the roll-out of over 80 new stores and shop-in-shops in most countries in the region. Calvin Klein himself once told me I was to be “his eyes and ears for Asia”.

My passion has always been interior design, which thankfully has been in my blood from a young age. I have designed many of our own houses, in Jakarta, In Bali and in Singapore, including our loft conversion in London. I started my own design company some 15 years ago in Jakarta, when I went to join my fiancé (now husband) there. I pretty much started to design anything and everything, when I couldn’t find what I was looking for in Indonesia – furniture, carpets, accessories, fabrics, staff uniforms, and even buildings if I had to. Friends and contacts started to commission me to design their homes, their furniture and carpets.

I then designed the architecture of Luna2 studiotel, together with all the interiors; the majority of the furniture I custom-designed and produced in Jakarta in a multitude of factories, each specialising in different materials. Incidentally, I completed all design of Luna2 studiotel some 6 years ago, but shelved it until 2011 when we started construction.

4. Given the chance, is there a designer in the fashion industry that you would love to grab to collaborate with in creating an interior space? What kind of space would you create with them?

I tend to err on the side of “a little bit more is more”. I’m over minimalism per se. And I don’t like clutter. I would say Prada might be one of the key brands that comes to mind. They take inspiration from the past, they present their looks in new innovative ways, and they fearlessly incorporate bold colour schemes. Together, we could create a somewhat futuristic space, with push-button everything, panelled walls which spin around, with odes to the past like white shagpiles, central fireplaces and sunken seating – adding dashes of geometric patterns to upholstery, carpets and curtains, with accent bold colours throughout.

5. How different or similar is the fashion and interior design world?

The fashion world and home interior design world are pretty much one and the same to me. As are design of restaurants, bars and hotels. One needs a clear point of view to begin with, which can be stamped on any chosen space. But I do believe that the interior design should reflect the fashion itself, and follow the vision of the clothing designer. For instance, Ted Baker’s old-world pastel ‘candy stores’ vs Calvin Klein’s structured clean lines. I also believe we should kind of live the way we dress. I was always surprised to see John Travolta, dressed from head to toe in black Armani, at home in his English-inspired country home, complete with floral sofas! I don’t get that. He would have looked more apt on the set of 9 and a half weeks!

6. What is your favourite era in design and why? Does it have a huge influence in your work as a designer?

I draw inspiration from great modernist works of the past (Neutra, Van De Rohe, Neimeyer etc) and from the 60’s (Verner Panton, Warhol, pop art, etc), combined with innovation of the future (gadgets, mod-cons, NASA, Apple etc). I never want to repeat the past, but just to respect its timelessness. I like to bring nostalgic ideas into the future, whilst adding playful elements. This inherent passion of design in me has naturally shaped my signature Luna2 design ethos, which is…

Luna2 respects the past, welcomes the future and likes to have fun in the process! With this in mind we blend nostalgia (great modernism works of the past, some 60’s pop etc), with futurism (innovation, gadgets, high-tech stuff) and touches of fun…life is not to be taken too seriously after all!

This ethos continues to be infused throughout every aspect of Luna2 as a company, from architectural design to interior design, from Lunafood to music, right through to the superstar service we offer. Hence, our employees are encouraged to have a sound understanding of great tradition, keep abreast of global innovation, and retain a sense of humour in the process. Our ultimate aim is to deliver a cosmic experience to each guest, every time.

7. Crowds vs complete silence, sitting still vs moving around – what kind of environment do you need when you start to expand on an idea?

A bustling environment! With a team of fabulously like-minded people. (Having said that, I tend to focus far better at a desk on my own!)

8. What is your favourite part of the designing process? The conception of an idea? Expanding on an initial idea? Or may seeing it being built?

The design process has typically been fairly seamless for me. My absolute favourite part of the process is over-seeing the furniture production, and even better, shopping for all the artwork, objets d’art, and designer furniture & accessories! Seeing the interiors come together with all pre-planned items is fantastic – especially when I feel it works.

9. Luna2 is very different in terms of looks in Bali, what kind of styles do you wish you could see in Bali that you think will look good but haven’t really been explored yet?

Something I haven’t seen yet. The ubiquitous ‘Bali modern’ can be tiresome. Let’s hope Philippe Starck will vamp up the action with his new hotel, The Stairs.

10. Luna2 is very mod, with bright pops of colour, how did you decide on the colour scheme and design theme? Did the overall mod look come later or was it the original look you wanted for it?

My design ethos is that I respect the past, welcome the future and like to have fun in the process! I loosely refer to my design style as “FUNked-up modernism”. There are elements of nostalgia, futurism and fun in every aspect of Luna2. I reference great works of the past, infuse innovation of the future, and add touches of 60’s pop and huge doses of humour!