CLADbook2017

Page 40

MOVERS & SHAKERS

Jean-Michel Gathy The founder of Denniston International, widely considered to be a living legend in the world of hotel design, explains why there’s no place for prima donnas in leisure architecture

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ith more than 30 years of experience in hotel design, Jean-Michel Gathy’s reputation goes before him. Since founding his Asiabased architectural practice, Denniston International, in 1983, the Belgian national has amassed a client list that reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the luxury hospitality industry. Amanresorts, Park Hyatt, St. Regis, Cheval Blanc, Armani, Mandarin Oriental, GHM, Banyan Tree, Shangri-La, One&Only, Fairmont Raff les, Jumeirah… Denniston has worked with them all. With a clear niche at the top-end of the market, Gathy won’t consider partnering anyone but the best, but denies this is arrogance. Designing a Toyota is just as demanding as designing a Bentley, he says – he just prefers Bentleys. Six years after launching Denniston in Hong Kong, Gathy moved to Malaysia, where the practice has been based ever since. Today, the firm employs 155 professionals from 21 countries, but it is Gathy himself who still personally creates the vision for each and every project. In April 2006, the architect was inducted into Hospitality Design’s Platinum Circle in recognition of his contribution to the hotel industry. 40 CLADglobal.com

Jean-Michel Gathy’s big break was the Amanwana in Indonesia in the early 1990s

What sets your practice apart from its rivals? I don’t say I invented this, because that would be presumptuous, but I decided 20 years ago that a top-class hotel should be seamless – seamless between the architecture, the interior design and the landscape. So when we take on a job, we do 100 per cent of what you see. We design the architecture, the interior, the topography, the routing of the golf course, if they have one; we design the restaurants, the boutiques and the back of house. For the lighting, we use a specialist consultant, but

we strategise the lighting. We do everything in house and I control every phase of it. And there are very few architects who do that. What projects are you currently working on? We’re working on several projects in Bali, Indonesia, including the Jumeirah and the Mandarin Oriental. We have a One&Only in construction in Hainan, China, and an Aman opening in Herdade da Comporta in Portugal. We also have projects underway in Brazil, Thailand, the UAE, Taiwan and many other countries.

CLAD book 2017


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