Only a few hours from Ed's home in Hong Kong, Kyoto's history and tranquil way of life make it the designer's perfect destination

BA PEOPLE • June 2018

My Club: the hotel designer

Gold Executive Club Member Ed Ng has curated interiors for some of the world’s most spectacular hotel groups, including Four Seasons and Rosewood Hotels. Here, the Hong Kong-based designer reveals his jet-setting routine and why Japan is a constant source of inspiration

Where do you travel for work?

These days I feel as if I live on the plane. I co-founded the luxury design agency AB Concept here in Hong Kong 20 years ago, and as our projects focus on high-end international hotels, wherever there are projects that fit the bill, I’ll be there. London is a main hub for me because it’s so well connected to cities like Paris, where I visit home décor trade shows such as Maison&Objet, or Faro in the Algarve where I’m working on the first European resort property for W Hotels and Resorts.

And for leisure?

I visit Japan a lot – it’s such a distinct culture from what I know in Hong Kong, but it’s only a few hours away. I particularly like Kyoto for the food, and as a designer it is inspiring. The history, the way of life – it’s so important that designers are well travelled to source inspiration. 

Where is your favourite hotel?

One of my all-time favourite hotels is the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which taught me as a young designer how to strip down a room while maintaining minimalist elegance. When you’re confronted with the quantity of luxury hotels on offer, this one feels like a breath of fresh air. Another favourite is Schloss Elmau, near Munich. It’s a beautiful property, tucked away in the Bavarian alps. It has a Michelin-starred restaurant, a wonderful spa and hosts incredible music recitals in its specially designed venues within.

Is there a particular destination that has inspired your design?

Inspiration usually comes when you least expect it, and I find it’s like a souvenir from your trip. Going to less familiar locations – the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, an ancient temple in Kyoto or a contemporary building in the heart of New York – and looking at the way things are designed helps me. Being in a place and feeling what it’s like is crucial, neither of which you can do by just browsing the internet.

Inset 1

Ed embraces the minimalism of Park Hyatt Tokyo's chic, spacious suites

Where do you go to escape the crowds in Hong Kong?

When I was a bit younger I used to live in Discovery Bay, a very peaceful part of Hong Kong where you can hike and enjoy the beach. Now I prefer to spend time in Tsim Sha Tsui, a busy neighbourhood in Kowloon – to me, it isn’t as chaotic as it might be to others. I enjoy the convenience of Hong Kong, and because I’m there for only 10 days a month, I value the efficiency.

What can’t you live without when you’re on the road?

I have a cashmere housecoat from LA brand Elder Statesman, which I take with me everywhere I go. I can sleep on 20 different beds, but when I have this housecoat I feel at home. 

Inset 2

Looking for design inspiration? Look no further than the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

How do you use your Avios?

Because I’m travelling most of the time on projects, I’m lucky that the flights are covered for me, so the Avios I have I tend to transfer to my family members when they need them.

What is the best thing about being part of the Executive Club?

The use of lounges is great – if I’m arriving from Asia early in the morning, I try to set up my first meeting at 9am. I head to the Arrivals Lounge, take a shower, have my shirts pressed in that time, and when I arrive for the meeting it looks like I’ve come straight from a hotel room, not a plane. Also, as a designer, I often carry heavy samples when I travel, but as a Gold Member the baggage limit is waived. I also appreciate being able to get onto earlier flights if I finish a meeting sooner than expected, thanks to my priority status.

Interview by Marisa Cannon

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This article has been tagged BA, Travel Tips