CRISTINA LAURIJSSEN, Director of Design and Product Services at Rosewood Hotels

Posted in People on 20 February, 2017

Cristina Laurijssen, Director of Design and Product Services, Rosewood Hotels, discusses the importance of public spaces and where she sees hotel design in the future with SPACE’s Can Faik…

Tell me about your role at Rosewood Hotels?

As Director of Design and Product Services based in London, I lead the group’s luxury hotel projects and help evaluate, in design terms, potential new hotel developments in Europe. I am responsible for ensuring that every project illustrates the company’s trademark ‘A Sense of Place’ philosophy. We see our hotels as living canvases which reflect their destination’s culture, history and people. As a team, we develop a unique vision for each project that inspires cultural sensitivity, sophistication, innovation and authenticity with the aim of creating memorable moments for our guests.

What Projects are you currently working on?

We are very busy with the renovation of the legendary Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, where I am working closely with the very talented and passionate Aline Asmar D’Amman who is the creative director for the project. Together we are working with a number of talented designers including Chahan Minassian, Tristan Auer, Cyril Vergniol and the legendary Karl Lagerfeld, who is designing two of the hotel’s most prestigious suites. I am also working on some exciting projects in key European cities that will be announced shortly.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

It’s always a highlight to work on a project from the very early stages of design through to the moment the doors open for the first time. I’ve been lucky enough to work on a number of high-profile hotels such as Raffles Istanbul and the Park Hyatt Vienna.

How important is the journey when it comes to designing a new hotel?

The guest journey is always the starting point for each story we create for the hotels. Throughout the design process, we keep referring back to this journey that starts from the moment the guest arrives. Along the way, we always like to create some moments of unexpected surprise and delight.

How important are Public Spaces for you?

Public spaces are the heart of a hotel. Quite simply, they are often a guest’s first impression of the hotel and set the tone for the property. As a designer, they are opportunities to invent, innovate and create. 

Where do you see hotel design in the future?

I see hotel design becoming more tailored to each property and drawing deeply on the location. Guests no longer want cookie-cutter hotels. Spaces will become more flexible so that they function in various ways, transcending current barriers between public and private areas. New technologies will be seamlessly incorporated into the design to help customize the guest experience.

Number of meetings attended each week?

It really depends, some weeks are packed with back to back meetings especially if I am traveling throughout Europe and other weeks I try to keep meetings to a minimum in order to focus on my design work. One advantage of being based in London, is that so many designers and consultants are either based here or visit the city on a regular basis.

What is your favourite City?

That is a very hard one! Can I have one for each continent? I love Rio de Janeiro for its spectacular natural setting, the diversity of its inhabitants and the sense of fun in the air. In Europe I would choose Lisbon also for its natural setting, its characteristic architecture and the innovative and creative vibe that is very apparent at the moment.

What is your favourite hotel?

The Datai in Langkawi has a very special place in my heart as I first stumbled across it by complete accident when backpacking in the 90s. Entering that fabulous timber structure of the lobby and experiencing the weaving of the external environment into the interior space made me fall in love with hotel design and I have been hooked ever since.

Tell us about your last three trips?

My last trip was to Rome and then on to Budapest via Vienna. It was a wonderful experience to take the train from Vienna and arrive in Budapest’s iconic Keleti train station. I’ve also recently visited Amsterdam and the Alentejo Coast in Portugal. Even in high season, this beautiful coast has long stretches of empty beaches, spectacular nature, charming white-washed towns and laid-back beach tavernas.

Favourite Designer?

Jean-Michel Gathy for his simple, holistic approach that merges all design disciplines while honouring nature in order create truly magical environments.

Favourite Drink

A lot to choose from…my partner’s homemade Caipirinhas.

What projects will you hope to be working on in the future?

A resort in the south of Europe, a mountain resort and a few conversions of heritage buildings in key European cities. It’s a very exciting time for Rosewood!

What would be your dream project?

I am already working on one of my dream projects! However, a small retreat by the sea, that’s nestled into the countryside and in perfect harmony with nature would really be the icing on the cake.

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