Boutique Design - July/August 2017 - 40
boutiquedesign.com july + august 2017
6 The Gathering at Soneva Jani merges dining,
drinking, shopping, a spa and a gallery into
a floating hub. This innovative social space
is equal parts a place to linger and a place to
wander through on the way from the arrival jetty
to a villa, thanks to easy circulation patterns.
7 All is (mostly) vanity in
a villa's dressing room.
Using one substantial
piece grounds the space.
Marco Fuga z zol a (6); rIcHarD WaITE (7)
It's also crucial that the materials palette maintains a similarly
quiet presence, and that it plays into guests' desire for the conscientious use of resources. For Malmström, that's a combination of practicality and aesthetics. "I only use sustainably grown or recycled
wood, so a whitewashed resort made sense, as it's easier to make
different woods look the same underneath that treatment."
Taking the careful, intellectual approach to design entails going
down to the tiniest detail. The designers need to think each element
through, so guests don't have to. Malmström is opposed to using
any prints on textiles in her hotels, as she feels solid colors are more
visually relaxing. Soft pastel accents with a few pops of color in the
villas offer just enough modulation to avoid being monotonous.
The backstory for both hotels reveals just as much care as the
final product, and also shows that just thinking and sourcing
locally isn't always the path to an authentic result. "We import
wood from countries with plantations-for example, Laos, Thailand, New Zealand, South Africa, etc., to find materials consistent
with our ethics about sourcing," says Malmström.
However, she is able to work with Maldivian carpenters and
joiners (some employed by Soneva and some outsourced) to
shape that wood. Restored frescoes are part of the centerpiece of
Explora's bath house.
If that seems like some pretty intense effort for styling resorts
where the aesthetic isn't the main point, that's because it is. But
it's also a challenge to designers to find ways to make a transformative environment. And who doesn't want to play fairy
godmother or godfather once in a while? Plus, nothing here will
turn into a pumpkin at midnight.