Day 3 at KODW2014: An Updated Colonial-Era Manor and Eco-Friendly Spatial Design
June 26, 2014
Short of a Shakespearean love story, is there anything more romantic than a husband returning home by sea? That's exactly what a wealthy Scotsman was doing when his ship mysteriously disappeared—and Governor Norman Macalister's face was never seen again. That is, until architect Colin Seah unveiled a bust of Macalister's head so large that it would not be out of place alongside the four American presidents on Mount Rushmore. The sculpture sits on the front of Macalister Mansion, the governor's old summer home in Penang, that's now been renovated into a flashy boutique hotel.
Seah, the creative mind behind the revamp, spoke about his project during Day 3: "Innovation in Spatial Design" at this year's Knowledge of Design Week, a series of educational seminars and workshops related to creative innovation in retail and hospitality sectors.
Seah's style for the hotel was heavily influenced by the wealthy lifestyles of its original inhabitants. Inspired by the old-world hospitality rituals that Macalister's society pals experienced while visiting him—high tea in a beautiful sitting room or a decked-out library —Seah strove to recreate an updated version of these luxurious experiences. The revamped hotel kept the tradition of serving high tea in the afternoon and designed a spacious library bar. The project has been well received by the media, and is certainly deserving of the prestigious design accolades that it has collected.
Another remarkable seminar was led by Anijo Mathew, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He discussed how modern technology, including online social media sites such as Facebook, is allowing companies (and governments) to mine data from our daily lives. This has evolved into real life every-day products like Nest, an innovative thermostat that controls a household's temperature based on the pattern of its inhabitant's routines. Nest's data on people's daily habits is potentially so valuable that Google recently acquired it for US$3.2 billion.
Finishing up the seminars on innovation in spatial design today, Ariane Steinbeck, managing director at hospitality design group Gettys, discussed how incorporating eco-friendly design details can result in major cost savings for hospitality projects in the long-run. Even though sustainable design and architecture (such as LEED certifications) are less common in Asia, she says following a few guidelines can put money back in your pocket. When her team designed Hotel Felix in Chicago, they opted for a motion-sensored HVAC system instead of the traditional manual or timer variety which saves them US$30,000 per year. Between this and the Nest example, who would have thought there was so much money involved with keeping our buns warm on chilly autumn nights?