Yabu Pushelberg: Design Has No Formula…

After their shortlisting in the International Hotel and Property Awards Glen Pushelberg and George Yabu of the design practice Yabu Pushelberg give us an insight into their hotel design schemes and what they think the  future of Hotel and Commercial design is going to be.

What direction do you feel design is moving towards in general terms?

Much of today’s design trends in hotels have become more focused on personalization and less on design. Similar to designing ones’ home, there must be characteristics to hotel projects that make them more unique specific and personal. Especially in lifestyle hotels, the whole emphasis on making a big design statement has run its course. People are now looking into creating a level of style on top of the design – such as the decoration and decor – which is based on the level of personality created.

What are the key influencing elements at present?

For YP, we have been studying more modern, residential design magazines. The design team has taken an approach of decorators rather than strictly designers. A designer puts all plans on paper, builds the project and then finishes the design. As a decorator, we do not only put the plans on paper, but we collect furniture/decor pieces and incorporate them into space after the plans have been drawn up. Ultimately, we create a design process that is less intellectualized on paper and more visually and physically appealing. The space becomes more interesting for the focus has leaned toward local artefacts and colours or patterns of those furnishings.

What sort of projects are you working on at the moment?

In general, our upcoming projects focus more on hotel companies or projects pertaining to the reinvention of existing hotel companies. Also, we have seen extreme high-end condominium projects in places like Jakarta, Miami and Hong Kong as well we project trends relating to the re-invention of great retail icons around the world and the emergence and rejuvenation of new fashion brands.

A designer’s work is so diverse – how do you manage to hold down a career and a life? We live what we practice for both our career and life are intertwined and work together. We live an interesting and simple life that involves our work on an everyday basis, however, when we need a break from travelling to…

And key trends that we should be aware of?

Currently there is a major lack in hotel technology, so the efficiency of check-in and customer relations should become easier and less time consuming in the coming years. Many hotels are veering away from the traditional sense of a hotel. There really isn’t a need for a concierge because many customers can now find insiders’ point of views on the web, through social media networks and their own personal handheld-devices. Customers don’t want overly designed hotels, they want ease and the choice to use the hotel product and amenities in their own ways. Hotels are also becoming more and more specialized and within the next five years, the tradition of those public spaces will be reinvented and individualized for the customers using that product.

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?

There has to be fearlessness to your scheme, otherwise you’re just going to be mediocre. Sometimes designers get caught up in formulas, but there isn’t a formula in design. Each project requires its own strategy from its own perspective. For instance, some projects demand colour and some demand pattern. Not all projects need to be conventional or traditionally designed.


Certainly there is always stress in our jobs, but there are a lot of joys as well, such as travelling and learning the cultures of our project locations. Since we always look at the glass half full, there isn’t a tendency of stress. Of course, we have our days where we feel over-whelmed, but as long as we keep a balance and embrace every situation we come across, our motivation and passion for design remains.


Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself

The car you drive?

BMW Z-8 and a Mini Cooper Clubman

Your favourite place to travel to in the world?

Our favourite cities would be New York City and Tokyo. Sri Lanka very new to us and is also becoming a favourite destination as well.

Your favourite hotel/restaurant/bar?

A favourite hotel of ours would be J.K. Place in Capri, Italy, and one of our favourite restaurants would be Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen. Another favourite restaurant and bar would be Yongfoo Elite in Shanghai.

The place that gives you the most energy?

New York City

And the place that enables you to totally relax?

Amagansett, New York

To Enter the International Hotel and Property Awards Email :awards@design-et-al.co.uk