French architect Reda Amalou founded Paris-based architecture and interior company AW2. Here, he opens up about his past projects, his design process, and what to expect at Wink with his five rules of design.
If you don’t know French architect Reda Amalou by name, you may have been lucky enough to spend time in one of his projects. There’s the Six Senses Con Dao resort. Four Seasons The Nam Hai. Silversands in Grenada. In total, the design agency he founded in 1997, AW², has completed projects in 40 different countries. And they’ve gathered lots of awards along the way.
So, with Reda completing the designs for the first Wink Hotels, as well as “working on projects in China, India, Switzerland, Italy, Morocco and Costa Rica” we wanted to understand how the University of East London graduate has been so successful across such a diverse range of past projects. Here, Reda Amalou shares his five keys to creatively approaching any new architectural design.
#1. Think and rethink
Projects like Six Senses Con Dao and Four Seasons The Nam Hai share a common trait – luxurious design. Behind Wink Hotels concept is the idea of affordable luxury. That means the quality of the guest experience is the focus. In turn, that maintains a price-point that makes the chain accessible to modern, tech-savvy, travelers.
“Basically, we’ve worked in high-end design for most of our projects and this is what we’re known for. But it’s really interesting and challenging to be working in a form of luxury that is different,” Reda Amalou explains. “So, it’s important to learn how to rethink what ‘luxury’ is about. And what urban city life should be about within the hospitality industry.”
“And,” Reda is quick to add, “we’ve learned what questions to ask. Questions help us bring out the essence of the core idea. We keep our options as open as possible. Then we narrow it down to what we think is the strongest answer.”
#2. Functionalism is the foundation
According to Reda Amalou’s view of good architecture, functionalism is the foundation of any design. That means the main focus is on applying purpose to a given space. A successful architectural design incorporates meaning into the element of function to help convey and deliver a message.
For Wink, our new Vietnamese hotel chain that foregrounds the experience, the rooms are a place to rest. The co-working space, restaurant and bar, and lounge areas are the places to be. “To work on the design of a room with smaller measurements, it means that every inch is different and has an importance,” Reda Amalou says about the Wink room design.
#3. Every project is unique
Very often, AW² work with well-established hospitality brands. Wink, on the other hand, is entirely new. “That’s right,” Reda Amalou confirms, “we’re working with a brand which is being created from scratch.”
“So, the challenge for us is to both understand what the concept is about and how to create content around it. It’s interesting to be at the starting point of the idea and the concept itself, rather than applying our architecture and design to a concept that is already in place.”
#4. Inspiration is everywhere
AW² takes inspiration from past projects. From the huge amount of travel and cultural immersion that comes with those projects in forty countries. And from other designers they admire. “There are always new experiences when working in a new country or a new region of the world,” Reda Amalou smiles. “It’s crazy how architecture and design can be the same across the globe but at the same time not the same at all,” he adds.
“Naturally, for inspiration we look at the hospitality industry. We like to look at anything which sort of stands out in terms of how the designers and architects have looked at a project. And how they’ve interpreted traditional ideas in the hotel industry,” Reda Amalou elaborates.
So, inspiration is important, but leading rather than following is key to the AW² philosophy.
“We look at a lot of things but mainly, what we were trying to create with Wink, for example, is something which would at the same time be different and at the same time be very contemporary,” Reda adds.
#5. Perfect the process
“I don’t normally disclose how many sketches I come up with. But before deciding on which one to show the client there are between 15 – 20 different layouts,” Reda Amalou admits.
His process at AW² involves three ingredients for extensive research. “We try to understand what has been done, what the space is and what the functions which we’re working with are…”
Follow Reda and AW² on Instagram here.