Name: Henry Chebaane
Company: Blue Sky Hospitality
Position within company: Founder & Creative Director
Website: Blue Sky Hospitality
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I was born and grew up in Paris, then moved to London almost 30 years ago. I took various jobs in hotels, shops and restaurants and learned what makes them commercially sound. Then, after a few years working for Anouska Hempel and Terence Conran, I set up my own studio in 2002. Working from London as a launch pad has allowed me to meet clients from all over the world. I have done projects in over 30 countries and have visited many more in the course of my work from Canada to Korea, from Iceland to Australia.
How would you describe your personal design style?
I don’t have a specific style. The fundamental reason for design is to accept an aspiration, a problem or set of constraints and resolve it as best as you can using your mental resources to create a physical solution. The problem should drive the design, once we have a solution we should embellish its experience aesthetically for our audience.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
From everywhere and from within: I believe story-telling is the base for all cultural foundations and human communications, for which design is one of the main expressions available to us.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
I think that the main aim of design, at least for commercial spaces should be to enable human connections, transactions, and interactions.
Name key themes to consider when approaching design in 2017 and beyond.
Our world is precious and fragile, humans have taken control of earth future and resources, much to the detriment of other living beings and mankind cultural diversity. Designers can influence and re balance the perception of our world by introducing a genuine ecological message and cultural sensitivity in their work while also looking into the future. I don’t believe in zoos and museums: their time has passed. Our planet and its people can do so much better for preservation and communication of cultural legacy and the natural world. For example, food is the ultimate human connector and restaurants are the ultimate stage to articulate this, so it is conceivable that restaurants could take on part of the cultural and educational functions of current museums and galleries.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design, what would it be?
Be yourself, work hard and always put your client’s aspirations first.
How important are The International Hotel and Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
Design has become one of the most important resources of mankind. We live in an era of exponential change in fundamental fields of activities. This is affecting everyone’s lives now and in the future. Design is a tool we have as a society to produce tangible solutions that can be executed and utilised to make life more enjoyable for all. So recognition help provide a communication platform to encourage more people to take design as a serious tool for progress.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are currently working on projects in India, France, Hungary, Belgium and Poland. Completing soon is the design of a very exciting project on the Gran Via, in Madrid, launching a new lifestyle hotel brand in Europe: Hyatt Centric.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
I am very interested in cultural and ecological conservation, as well as promoting the importance of science in creating a better everyday life for all people, both physically and philosophically.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
Your favourite holiday destination?
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
Shangri-La Singapore, Valley Wing
Din Tai Fung (locations worldwide)
Sand’s End pub, Fulham
Your favourite book / film / song?
Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey (documentary series)
Sure-as-not by Afro Celt Sound System
Your favourite food and drink?
Brown Sourdough bread (from Hedone, London) and Ribera del Duero wines
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Gardening with my wife and our two border terriers, Miss Molly and Mr Mojo
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?