Name: Martin Grounds
Company: Grounds Kent Architects Indonesia
Position within company: Director
. Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I was born in Perth, Western Australia and graduated from the architectural faculty of the University Of WA . Along with my partner in GKA we started our resort hotel design experience in 1989 by winning a competition for the Four Seasons Resort in Jimbaran Bali. 25 years on and we are now Resort Hotel Specialists with many completed projects.
. How would you describe your personal design style?
GKA have a design philosophy that attempts to induce “Romance” derived from the location of the hotel and from an interpretation of the local culture, including the traditional building culture . A sense of the place (Country, State , beach, mountain , forest …whatever) that guests are visiting, is important for resort hotel design.
. Where does your design inspiration come from?
The Location for the resort is always the starting point for the inspiration. The location within a country, say Bali for instance as a location within Indonesia, and then the location of the site itself , such as the Alaya project being situated in the hilly / terraced rice field terrain of Ubud.
. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
For me it is disappointing that design in general within the resort hotel world, is heading towards more and more of a global solution for most buildings, such that to look at a hotel featured in a design magazine, it is harder and harder to guess in which country the building is situated. This is a generalisation because that is what the question asked for, there are of course excellent examples of buildings (design) that reference the character and traditions of the country in which the building is situated. In Bali where we have been working for 25 years we see more and more contemporary design solutions being constructed, that make little to no attempt to reference the strong Balinese architectural tradition for which Bali is so famous. These contemporary buildings could be in any location within the world and eventually if the trend continues the “unique feel” of Bali will be seriously reduced. The Greek Island of Mykonos is an example of traditional forms and materials being maintained to create a sense of place and recognisable Greek Island architecture, while the planning and interiors are contemporary and relevant to today’s lifestyle and design requirements.
. Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2014 and beyond
Cultural relevance, Environmental sustainability , Quality of experience, Human scaled projects and ROMANCE
. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design, what would it be?
Don’t lose the “Romance”
. How important are The International Hotel and Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
A reward for being assessed as doing well in the development of new hotels is important not only for the designers but also for the developers who can trade off a reputation for having created an Award Winner!!
. What projects are you currently working on?
A gorgeous villa style resort overlooking the famous Bali Dreamland surf break, to be operated by Jumeirah- so good for Bali to have this prestigious operator come to town! We also have a Ritz Reserve on the drawing board in our Bali office . Our Perth office is working on two Anantara resorts; one in Mauritius and one in China.
. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
To sail successfully in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race starting Boxing Day this year, and focus up on the architecture for the projects we have on our books, so they reach their full design potential!
. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession? My wife and two boys
Your favourite holiday destination? Margaret River Western Australia where we have a holiday shack in 3 hectares of West Australian bush .
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar? Four Seasons Jimbaran / LaLucciola Bali / Buza Bar (Cliff side bar) in Dubrovnik Croatia .
Your favourite book / film / song? Anything by Kurt Vonnegut but perhaps his “Galapagos”…. The Castle ( Australian Movie) … “Sharleena” by Frank Zappa
Your favourite food and drink? Italian food / Es Kalapa Muda ( Indonesian young coconut drink)
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? Sailing
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? Rich
Anything else interesting? Frank Lloyd Wright did the majority of his work, and perhaps his best work, after the age of 65 …it is an inspiration to all of us old guys who must, or want to, keep designing until we “drop off the perch” !