A curved red reception desk. Large photographic prints by local fashion photographer Ho Kim. A 12-seat extendable “dinner table”. A projector and screen to create a space for town hall meetings and training sessions. Visibility and light. Grégoire Du Pasquier, co-founder of G8A who designed the Wink HQ office, is exploring the space for the first time since its construction.
Grégoire Du Pasquier worked in New York and Paris for architectural practices Smith-Miller & Hawkinson and Guedot & Chaslin. Now, he oversees operations in G8A’s Ho Chi Minh City and Geneva offices while co-managing G8A’s operations in their Singapore and Hanoi offices.
“I’m a designer, architect, interior designer, [and I do] master planning with my partner Manuel Der Hagopian…” Grégoire Du Pasquier begins. The two Swiss graduates began working together with group8 in Geneva in 2000. Group8 was more of a “collective” than an architectural practice. Their “relentlessly optimistic and exhilarating” journey gathered pace after they co-founded G8A, and in 2008 when they opened the company’s Hanoi office “attracted by the entrepreneurial energy in Asia”.
“The Wink HQ office, with its cross-shaped open area does resemble a Swiss flag,” Grégoire smiles about the unintended similarity. The important idea behind the open cross-shaped space with offices and meeting rooms in the four corners is “sociability and versatility”. Wink Hotels, in the next seven years, will open its doors in the three major cities of Saigon, Danang, and Hanoi and beyond – in Tuy Hoa, Can Tho and Vung Tau. Training and development, discussing partnerships, and testing out sustainable products are all key to the brand’s evolution, activities that will all happen in the Wink Hotels’ HQ. Plus each hotel will have a co-working space and an expansive hang-out space so having communal areas connects to the DNA of the brand.
G8A Architecture & Urban Planning’s Past Projects
You don’t have to go far from the Wink HQ on Saigon’s Thai Van Lung Street to find some more G8A projects. A few blocks away is the Hanoia Saigon flagship store. Hanoia, the home decor brand, was founded in 1997 outside of Saigon – in Binh Duong Province in a village that has been producing lacquered wood for around 600 years. The “luxurious” store design employs “very local” materials. “[The store’s design] is something that can be exported but that works really well in Vietnam too,” Grégoire explains.
Toong’s “Jungle Station”, the co-working company’s Saigon HQ, is nearby too. The three-level former printworks is a verdant space a world away from the bustle of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Vo Van Tan streets which it’s sandwiched between. This Toong takes up the second and third floors. Inside, there’s lots of natural light, minimal industrial colours, and metal and stone surfaces. Grégoire Du Pasquier highlights the way the design “enhances the community of the space – one of the values that Toong wanted to bring to the forefront”.
There are lots of other projects too: Concrete Waves, FPT’s office space in an industrial zone outside Saigon; industrial manufacturers Jakob Rope System’s space in Binh Duong; and in Hanoi projects like The Bridge, OpenAsia Group’s offices, warehouse and logistics building in the centre of Hanoi. But Grégoire Du Pasquier is hesitant to compare projects, “because every project is particular, and we put the same energy into every one.”
Fresh And Cool To Compliment Wink Hotels’ Brand
“The fresh image and cool ambiance are things I associate with Wink Hotels,” Grégoire says about the feeling they tried to replicate in Wink Hotels’ HQ. “And you can really adapt this space differently depending on the requirements,” he continues. “So you can extend the table for up to twenty people or remove it completely for a special event…”
There are the black and muted red brand colours. “What we picked out of Wink Hotels’ branding was the colours but we didn’t want to be too colourful. We also wanted to get away from the corporate feeling of most offices…” And lines of wooden ceiling beams help capture the energy of the first Wink Hotel’s home city of Saigon. “We created this ceiling out of wood to provide some warmth and dynamism,” Grégoire elaborates. “
Like G8A’s previous project, Toong Jungle Station, it’s flooded with light. Grégoire recalls that “creating a flexible space that optimises the number of people who can use it” was in the brief we received from Wink Hotels. “And what we added personally was bringing natural light to these spaces. And the rest is pure design…”
Photos by Khooa Nguyen and Nam Duy Tran