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Exploring Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur on the Park with Anna Vivian

We hear from the GA Group Marketing Executive about how the neighbouring forest reserve, local culture, art and sustainability create a unique boutique hotel with a sense of place.

Exploring Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur on the Park with Anna Vivian

GA Group is a collection of design companies who have amassed an impressive portfolio of works over the past 30 years. The 160-strong team is spread across offices in London, New York, Kuala Lumpur, Budapest and Shanghai, and is known for its hospitality work.

A new addition is Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur on the Park located next to Bukit Nanas (Pineapple Hill) forest reserve – the only area of untouched primary rainforest left in the heart of the Malaysian city. It is IHG Hotels & Resorts’ first hotel under Hotel Indigo to open in Malaysia, adding to the lifestyle hospitality brand offerings in the market. Anna Vivian, Group Marketing Executive of GA Group, shares more about the hotel that opened on 8th December 2023.

Indesignlive: How does Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur on the Park draw from its context?

Anna Vivian: Just as no two neighbourhoods are alike, no two Hotel Indigo properties are alike. Hotel Indigo hotels are all about their immediate surroundings, embracing the neighbourhood and the local culture. Elements of nature from the rainforest are seamlessly integrated into the hotel’s interior, blending into the colour palette and materiality, complemented by carefully curated artworks.

[Nature also has] a direct impact on the landscaping. For example, the rooftop pool and terrace are envisioned as modern interpretations of a forest glade. A stylised architectural metal sunshade that utilises the patterns of the forest canopy is surrounded by green walls and built-in planters, creating a relaxing oasis.

What can you tell us about the design of the guestrooms?

The guestrooms embody a traditional family home that you would find in the surrounding neighbourhoods. For example, the corridors are inspired by the five-foot way (sheltered common corridor) or kaki lima found in Malaysia. In each room, a traditional dry larder conceals a mini bar. A congkak board often found in the family home is integrated into the coffee table, and cloth bags utilised during Batu Seremban – a traditional Malaysian game which involves throwing small cone shape bags – [inspired] the cushion design on the daybed.

Related: Hyatt Regency London Blackfriars by THDP

Art today is an important part of helping to create distinctive narratives in hotels. Does it apply here in Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur on the Park?

Art has been carefully introduced to tell a story and, depending where you are on your journey through the hotel, this will vary. The hotel’s all-day-dining restaurant, Wok Star, is a venue that is all about the essence of street dining, [and so patrons will] encounter graffiti art here.

In the lift lobby area, there is an installation reflecting our use of everyday materials like plastic bags while also being an idealised representation of ‘Teh Tarik’, a popular hot milk tea beverage commonly found in South-east Asian countries. In the guestroom corridors, the shapes and forms of the old Kampung houses eaves have been translated into cut paper art. Presented in bold and vibrant colours, this artwork reflects the Malaysian love of colour pattern and texture.

GA Group also designed Crowne Plaza Kuala Lumpur City Centre, which opened on 15 December 2023. What different experiences do both hotels offer?  

While Crowne Plaza’s focus is on business amenities and offerings, Hotel Indigo caters primarily to leisure travellers seeking a boutique hotel experience. Both hotels share overarching themes such as nature-inspired elements, but the role of nature and locale is more pivotal in shaping the design at Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur on the Park, hence creating a much more immersive experience for their guests. At Crowne Plaza Kuala Lumpur City Centre, you see much more subtle and delicate interpretations of the nature elements, creating a more refined experience.

Anna Vivian - Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur on the Park

What are your observations on the evolving needs of travellers since the pandemic?

Several key trends have emerged since the pandemic, influencing our approach to designing a project. One is the heightened focus on wellness and health. Guest wellbeing is now a priority – from the thoughtful incorporation of dedicated spaces for amenities within the guestroom to state-of-the-art fitness facilities with the latest technology that make them a destination in their own right. There has also been a shift towards larger and more expansive outdoor areas to elevate guest wellbeing. These spaces have evolved into locations with a unique offering such as the terrace at Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur on the Park.

Sustainability has emerged as another forefront factor at the heart of concern for travellers post-pandemic. With a lot more awareness, guests want to know that their travel is having a positive impact (or at least not a negative one) on the environment.

As exemplified by Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur on the Park, sustainability is deeply embedded in its design, extending from the artwork to the choice of materials used and the overarching design narrative – the rainforest being at the centre of it all. Also, in addition to the feature staircase constructed from old railway sleepers and rebar from the construction site, there are feature lights created from old bottles, artwork created utilising old books and reception desks from old tree roots.

GA Group

Courtesy of IHG Hotels & Resorts

More hotel design in Asia, this time in Shanghai with Takenouchi Webb

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