For over a decade, SB Architects has come up with forward-thinking hospitality concepts and the firm continues to drive the industry forward. We caught up with Vice President and Associate Principal Matt Page, who discusses his design approach, recent projects, and his own evolution.
How do you constantly push yourself to design with purpose?
One of the beautiful aspects of my work is that it allows me to learn and discover new things consistently. I am an inquisitive person. I love to challenge and educate myself. Design is a continual evolution and the only way to truly evolve is to stay curious and take risks. I strive to create unique hospitality experiences that leverage emerging technologies and socially conscientious, sustainable global trends that not only redefine luxury but impact the future of travel.
Tell us about the role of good design.
Design has a quantifiable impact on human experience and is the key differentiating factor “between a good experience and a great one.” A person’s intention when visiting a space, combined with their expectations, quality of interactions and quality of the space together inform how it will be perceived.
With that in mind, is there a recent project you are most proud of?
My most recent hotel project, 1 Hotels Sunnyvale, which takes the residential hospitality and sustainability concept to the next level. The Silicon Valley has a tempered artsy, cool, intellectual West Coast vibe. The local context was the muse in everything from the palette and materials to the local artists and rich European influences. I wanted the design to be both inspired by the area’s unique history as well as its modern vibrancy.
1 Hotels is helping establish the upscale green bohemian trend in hospitality design that prioritizes the essential in a more creative and less contrived way. The brand opts to build a “platform” to spread a message about human society’s relationship with the built environment. Being a tower in the densely populated Silicon Valley, we wanted the hotel to harmonize with its environment yet remain striking. This brought us to a multi-layered architectural response to the organic contours of the mountains, maximizing the views of the urban skyline on the horizon as well as the sweeping outline of the San Francisco Bay.
Is there an architectural theme that runs through your projects?
Art and nature. I always find ways to creatively capitalize on the views as well as design a hotel where both public and private spaces become three-dimensional works of art. I embrace an “inside-outside” concept for public areas such as restaurants, terraces, and decks — thinking about connectivity with the ground level and its gardens using landscaped paths and steps interwoven into the landscape. The style is designed for lavish tastes, but the style is elegantly modern. Rich textures, as well as colors and tones, play a role in defining the space. Also, clean lines complemented by ambient lighting and an open floor plan make for a subtle transition from interior to exterior. I spend a great deal of time thinking about how to most effectively program a hotel, in particular, its public spaces as public spaces support the most extensive diversity of experiences. Public spaces can support unstructured time – providing a platform for reflection, inspiration, and unplugging as well as fun, socializing, and work. As designers, we must prioritize multi-functional spaces where anyone can do everything, everywhere.
“Authenticity” has become a buzzword. Tell me about how you create authentic designs?
We have a responsibility to restore humanity and authenticity to design and move away from design forms driven solely by algorithms and technology. We focus on creating for the human experience, moving beyond design explorations focused on using tools to push the boundaries of engineering and form. We put people back at the center of design – which allows the highest degree of flexibility among continually changing consumer tastes.
We arrive at the design process with as few preconceptions as possible. We listen to the client and operator, explore the local fabric and contextual framework in the search for a meaningful story. In years prior, hotel design fostered social isolation. There was little by way of communal infrastructure that encouraged interaction and integration with public space and F&B outlets assuming a functionality rather than a backdrop for inclusivity.
We see a shift in how luxury is being redefined and how people prefer to experience space. There has been a movement towards creating spaces that are underpinned by the fundamental tenets of socialization. We are now designing spaces that invite in the vibrant local culture from outside, reinvigorating communal areas and fostering a socio-cultural exchange of ideas and experiences between guests and locals.
You work in areas outside of Hospitality. Ascaya is a luxury residential contemporary community outside of Las Vegas. What differentiates your inspiration home?
SB Architects inspiration home introduces a fresh alternative for what a residential retreat could look and feel like in the desert. It invokes the imagination and draws implicitly on the sensuous connection between time, place, life, selves, memory and experience. Every act of the design embodies this very connection in a fresh way. The design leaves the audience momentarily suspended in an iconic experience of a signature place.
What is the key to any successful architectural project?
Designing a hotel is such a creative and ambitious project; it takes more than a trendy concept board to make it a reality. I think what is key is the teamwork between the client, designers, developers, and the brand. We have an experienced team with years of experience building luxury hotels sparked by the enthusiasm of young blood and a passionate vision. This 1 Hotels property is a fusion of the luxury only experience that will identify with the innovation deeply rooted in the area.
What piece of advice would you give your 20-something self, knowing what you know now?
Do not let fear stop you from creating the life and business that you want. The greatest lesson I learned was to stay true to my voice, true to my vision, and not allow trends to dictate my creative process.