Luna2 Melanie Hall interview

SCOOP homes & art

Scoop home & art cover Autumn 2014For the Autumn 2014 edition of SCOOP homes & art magazine, Luna2 studiotel was featured among hotels worldwide that are pushing the boundaries when it comes to design, and how homeowners can learn and implement their own unique features at home. The full interview with Melanie Hall is below.

 

 

1. Can you describe the design process you went through to complete the project?

Luna2 was named after the first spacecraft to successfully land on the moon in the late 50’s. Luna2 studiotel is our second property, having opened neighbouring Luna2 private hotel more than 7 years ago.

The Luna2 ethos is that we respect the past, welcome the future and like to have fun in the process! This ethos permeates every aspect of Luna2, from the architecture, to the interiors and furniture design, right down to the levels of service, music, and even to Lunafood & bar.

For Luna2 studiotel, I did the architectural design myself, with the help of my in-house draftsman, and I worked closely with MEP & Structural experts; plus, I had a very sound quantity surveyor! The neighbouring temple owner and chief of the village made me promise I would only build on 50% of the land (which is fortunately required in Bali, and rightly avoids over-crowding). He marked on the site plan where he would ‘allow’ me to build, ie at a certain distance from his temple land, and stipulated only one floor at one end of the structure. So, more or less on the back of an envelope, the building took shape, in the form of (I like to think) a somewhat beautiful little Bauhaus-esque rectangular box!

The land shape then practically ‘forced’ me to do an obligatory lap pool (this will be my last, mark my words – my next pools will have new possibly trapezoid/morphed shapes, and colours, but more on that another time! Lap pools are over in my mind!) So, in order to make the ‘boring’ lap-pool more visually interesting, I decided to line it with Mondrian-ic colour-blocked mosaics of primary red, blue, yellow & green.

You will see the architecture is surprisingly simple and references modernism of the past. Devoid of fuss, the entrance features a somewhat 60’s Panton-esque façade, the subtlety of which offers a glimpse of what to expect inside. This ‘bubble-icious’ signature pattern repeats itself throughout Luna2 studiotel.

I loosely refer to my design style as “FUNked-up modernism”. This pervades throughout every aspect of my design. I wanted the entire studiotel to feel a little bit of a throwback to the works of great modernists, whilst adding a lot of early 60’s colour vibe, with a huge dose of innovation. (Having worked for Calvin Klein for years sometime back, I am now not afraid of colour!) For the interior colour scheme, I reflected on childhood classic games like Lego, Monopoly, Rubiks cube, twister, and to mature the blend, I added splashes of ever-timeless Mondrian colour-blocking. Primary yellows, reds, blues and greens are brought up-to-date and beyond, in a surprisingly non-childish way, with the latest mod-cons, and interspersed with quirky touches of fun to make guests smile. Each studio is named after one of the top London addresses on the Monopoly board and features the corresponding colour on the monopoly-inspired corridor floor – Piccadilly yellow, Strand red, Mayfair blue and Bond Street green.

Having lived in Jakarta for 12 years, I designed and produced the majority of the furniture in several factories there that each specialise in different materials. Many items are made in up to three different factories. I make the carpets in Vietnam, and the curtain fabrics in Java. To add interest and timelessness to my own designs, I like to incorporate European designer classics throughout, with designers and brands such as Jasper Morrison bar stools, Cassina by Philippe Starck dining chairs, Louis Poulson and Vernor Panton pendant lights.

I typically use a wide range of materials to add further interest to each space but ultimately need to work well together, such as: walnut veneer, stainless steel, solid acrylic, carrara marble, white stone composite floors, Bisazza mosaics, pure New Zealand wool custom-made carpets, woven fabrics from Europe and vintage wallpapers.  I also commissioned artist friends to create artwork that reflect the character and colour scheme of each space.  These works are interspersed with original works of well-known international artists, such as up-and-coming Stewart McAlpine Miller from the UK, and Burton Morris from LA.

2. What did you learn on completing this project?

I learnt that I wouldn’t do a basement again so close to the beach, with the water table at only -2m. This was a huge expense, with double water-proofing (membranes and injected concrete), but it was of course, worth it in the end for this project.

3. What is your favourite part of the hotel?

It’s a tie between Orbit restaurant and Pop! lounge bar. Orbit probably reflects where I am right now in design. With tributes to the late 50s/ early 60s, this fresh white space with bursts of sunflower yellow and modular banquette sofas in houndstooth fabric, looks over the pool through a somewhat futuristic bubble window. It’s truly a sophisticated oasis, within the chaos of Seminyak!

Underground Pop! lounge bar meanwhile, allowed me to unearth the rather more “groovy-baby” side of me which is rapidly evolving! Playing with a Panton-esque colour palette of shocking pink, deep purple, “pan-am” blue, post-box red and disco-ball silvers, pop! is complete with mirrored globe pendant lights, DJ booth and LED dance floor.

4. What is shaping the modern hotel experience today?

There appears to be an increase in the niche market of discerning, affluent travellers, who only expect the best, yet in a more intimate environment than has been on offer before. Typically, “5-star” hotels were the only answer for this type of traveller. Many of course would opt for a boutique hotel, but again, typically, these couldn’t offer the levels of service that this niche group rightfully expected. There seems to be a movement towards a need for more intimacy and more personal service, where each guest is truly acknowledged. People are also far more design-conscious these days; they embrace visionary design, outstanding service and the highest international standards where no request is too tall or too small, giving them an experience a level above the norm – what we call a “cosmic” experience. These are the people that come to Luna2 private hotel again and again, and they are the clientele that will be attracted to Luna2 studiotel. Luna2 service is always professional and personalised, yet friendly and discreet. The Luna2 experience gives the guest what they want, even before they know they want it!

5. What was the inspiration behind the decor and colour palette?

The lobby features a Mondrian-inspired large artwork, designed by myself and produced by my great friend Dutch artist Irene Hoff – who incidentally has done many other of her own pieces for Luna2 studiotel. This artwork sets the colour palette for the whole building: primary reds, blues, yellows & greens, allowing each colour accent to ‘go solo’ in each space. The lobby and pool are the only space where all 4 colours culminate.

And why these primary colours? Well as you know, I revere great modernism of the past (nostalgia), with innovation of the future (futurism), whilst having fun in the process! So, referencing these 4 bold colours, you will recognise them from Lego (1949), Monopoly (1934, top 4 most expensive properties on the board), Rubik’s cube (late ‘70’s), Twister (1966), and of course Piet Mondrian (1930’s) as mentioned.

These inspirations are entirely nostalgic, and the colour combination is fairly unique – yet I would like to think I am using them in new ways, whilst having a bit of fun in the process!

6. What guests often enjoy most about staying in a hotel is the sense of luxury in the daring decor and features that they would be hesitant to attempt in their own home. Do you have any tips on overcoming this doubt to create a unique space at home?

May I offer my suggestions to planning ones’s home design from the get-go?
Firstly:
1. Write a “shopping list” of every space that you want to create.  This will be unique to each individual and your personal circumstances.
2. Collate an ongoing scrap-book of all the architectural, interior & furniture designs that you like. Start to understand a sense of your own style. Decide what vibe you are comfortable with.
3. Maximize usage of each space, so that you don’t end up with “dead” spaces which aren’t useful.
4. Plan a colour scheme for each room: choose a neutral base (whites or shades of grey perhaps), and add accent colours to make it pop – generally one to two colours is enough in each space. Artwork looks great when the colours and character match that of the interior design and colour accents. For example, Andy Warhol paintings don’t look great alongside a classic floral country-style sofa.
5. “Wow” with the new, and de-emphasise the old:  Create “wow” effects in focus areas, either by using that special piece of furniture that you love, or by way of a burst of colour. Buy some new artwork, and make it “gel” with the interior colour scheme and atmosphere.  De-emphasise things that you like less, or that are less visually appealing. For example, the old, worn-out sofa, that you don’t want to be thrown away, should not be in the central living space. Move older, less favourite, artworks to less important areas, eg the WC’s and guest bedrooms!
6. Blend varieties of textures that will work together, to add interest to each space. For example, with scatter cushions, use fluffy ones with smooth ones, with leather ones.  One focal wall, possibly clad in textured wallpaper, besides a smooth painted wall can be a great feature.

And last but not least:
7. Invest in key pieces that you love. These will stay with you for a long time.
8. Style choices you make now will evolve over time, that’s completely normal;  but don’t clad your bathroom in orange mosaics if you cant see yourself living with them for at least 10 years! Paint and wallpaper can be replaced more easily.

7. It’s easy to run with a particular trend, however this approach to design has the tendency to date a space. What advice do you have for homeowners wanting something different that will also last the test of time?

Excellent question. Don’t follow trends; follow your own ideals. But as a rule, ‘contemporary’ will date, whereas ‘modern’ doesn’t tend to as yet. Modern designs generally evolved from the Bauhaus years of great architects and designers Breuer, Gropius, Van de Rohe and Corbusier. Many 21st century designers have been inspired from the classics of these artists – as I have.  These modernist inspired pieces are seemingly lasting the tests of time.  Equally, the 60’s revolution seems to be well-deserving a revival; but I am talking “The Party”  with Peter Sellers, and “Down with Love” with Renee Zellweger, not to mention Barbarella and many of the James Bond films at that time. We need to propel nostalgia into the future, with innovation of the 21st century, and a sense of humour to keep us smiling!

8. Do you feel you have more of an opportunity to be creative with commercial designs over residential projects?

Somewhat yes, but only because the scope is wider. In a hotel, I get to work on all areas: restaurants & bars, lobbies, cinemas, rooms, swimming pools etc. It’s just amazing to have the opportunity to work with a wider variety of spaces. But to be honest, one day I will have a home which incorporates all of these spaces under one roof too… I hope!