Meet André Fu, MAISON&OBJET ASIA 2016's Designer of the Year
André Fu 101
As MAISON&OBJET ASIA (M&O ASIA) returns to Singapore for the third time next year, we catch up with Designer of the Year André Fu — the interior designer behind Fullerton Bay Hotel in Singapore and The Upper House in Hong Kong — for a retrospective
On sketching and drawing:
"I believe when I was about seven or eight, I loved drawing. I loved using my pencil to draw, and I loved drawing mazes. It was kind of complicated, and I loved passing it to my friends at school and asking them to work their way out. I love sketching, I still do. As you know, a lot of architects and interior designers these days rely heavily on computers to render views so they almost look realistic. But I personally love — especially when I'm presenting or conceptualising — just getting a pen or pencil to just draw. It's probably the easiest way for me to visualise the whole thing, and to really put my thoughts together on a piece of paper."
The most "Hongky" thing about him:
"Perhaps it's the sense of curiosity. Always trying to find out about things, trying to be alert, and be sensitive to everything that's surrounding me. Obviously Hong Kong is a very transient and dynamic city, so there's always an influx of information...different people coming in, different artists being in town, so I guess that constant exposure to all these influx of materials is always something that really inspires me."
On being M&O ASIA's Designer of the Year 2016:
"It's a tremendous acknowledgement. I always see M&O as a true celebration of modern or contemporary artisanship. I'm very proud to be part of it."
On collaborating with COS for their presentation in Hong Kong this year:
"Typically I work with a fairly niche market that's more on the luxury sector. But I guess the market is changing as well. People are going with that sense of relaxed luxury, or fashion going forward, and I think COS has done a great job in embracing that spirit. It's the first time I've ever done a full-scale fashion presentation, so it's really a celebration of Asian urban scape, and life in Asia. The whole event was done in a way with guests walking through cubes and boxes, very much in spirit of the way we live in Asia — how we go in and out of buildings. For the final part of the presentation, the models walk in and out of a few huge glass installations alongside steps and ramps, as well as greenery that we have created in the space. So it's a very interactive type of experience."
Favourite trend of 2015:
"The overall spirit is about relaxed luxury, and something very comfortable. Personally I would go for places that are a lot more timeless in spirit, have a sense of purity, but yet have a spirit of the place. You know, whether I'm working in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Thailand, Provence or London, each of them should represent a sense of place. It's not fussy, it's not trying to be anything. It's just good quality, nice proportions, simplicity, but done well, and in a very thoughtful manner."
The impact of social media in design:
"Because of social media, everybody's designing spaces that look great in photos. It's always about that great moment but to be honest, spaces are not there to be looked at — it's really for people to be in it, sit in it, and have a good time."
His hotel style crush:
"Parco Dei Principi in Sorrento is one of the hotels that I always refer to. It's a hotel that's built in the '60s by Gio Ponti. It's by the cliffs in Sorrento, so it has amazing views. Everything inside is designed — even the tiles, the furniture, the swimming pool, the landscape, the interiors — they're all conceived as a holistic experience and I think that's a very strong design statement."
An artist that caught his eye this year:
"I like the work of a line art Korean artist called Park Seobo. I discovered him earlier this year through a friend who's a great art patron. And since then, I've enjoyed looking at his work. He's quite mature in his age, but his work has a lot of depth. There's also a mix of paintings done in very strong colours versus ones that are very pale. But there's a very nice rhythm on the drawings and paintings that he does."
On the launch of his debut lifestyle brand, Andre Fu Living:
"It's really very much about the means to extend my spatial or lifestyle experiences into something that's tangible. We've begun the whole journey by collaborating with a perfumery called Fueguia 1833 Patagonia, an Argentina-based perfumer. We've created this eau de toilette called Fargesia, which is pretty much a type of Asian bamboo. So bamboo is an ingredient within that, as well as tangy flavours and a touch of citrus. That's very eclectic. We also have a very extensive collection of bathware which will be previewed at M&O ASIA in March."
Upcoming projects in 2016:
"We have a big hotel project launching in Provence in early summer next year. That's a very important moment for me, to have a project in France itself. Towards the end of next year, we will have a hotel project launching in Hong Kong. Soon after that, a big hotel project in Bangkok as well."
What's going to be big in 2016:
"If we're talking about trends, diversity is a big thing — especially in the globalised world, people are always looking for a slice of personality. So, instead of being led by big trends I guess it's much more about finding things that are suitable for yourself. For me, I think the word 'tactile' is still very strong — in terms of using materials that have texture, have a soul, and are able to tell a story more than clearly what it looks like."
MAISON&OBJET ASIA 2016 will take place from 8 to 11 March 2016 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center in Singapore.