When Bamo Met Bangkok
BAMO, the San Francisco-based interior design firm has been appointed to bring their magic to the inner spaces of Four Season Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River.
Gerry Jue has created the interiors of some of the most iconic luxury hotels, resorts and private residences around the world. He shares with Seasons his views on the nature of luxury, the satisfaction of collaboration, and why Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok is one of his biggest challenges and proudest moments.
Iconic design is not just about making a statement on a city’s skyline or drawing ‘wow’s with unique architectural innovations; there is also inner space to consider, with its eternal questions of form versus function, the nature of true luxury, and how to create something at once of its time and place and yet essentially timeless.
Great design can be a measure of the co-operation, generosity with ideas and willingness to find the same wavelength between architect and interior designer, often called together at short notice, from different companies, cultures and disciplines, expected to seamlessly mesh and create magic.
For Gerry Jue, one of the Founding Principals of BAMO, the San Francisco interior design firm appointed to bring its magic to the inner space of Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok at Chao Phraya River, a deep, almost telepathic level of understanding and a spirit of genuine collaboration had been present from the start between himself and the conceptual designers and master planners of the project, Hamiltons International principals Andy Miller and Richard Scott-Wilson.
“Hamiltons International has designed an absolute gem of a building,” said Gerry, who was particularly impressed by the pair’s ‘all-corner-unit’ design breakthrough, made possible by a new take on the tower floor plate which links three squares, meaning each unit in the tower enjoys its own very private, low density and stunningly scenic corner aspect. This allowed almost double the view planes a normal condominium unit not on a corner would present, and means most of the residences boast river and city skyline views, set off to best effect with open plan design and expansive balconies.
“We can play off this in our approach to materials and use of space and how the light comes in,” he said. “We have been inspired by the location on the river, the colours of the city and the view whether it’s a panoramic or a framed one, whether looking towards the historic heart of Bangkok or the new skyline bristling with skyscrapers.”
Gerry admits to being spellbound by the Chao Phraya's many moods and smitten by the river’s subtle beauty. “It's this artery that flows through the city and breathes life into it and against which all things bear some relation. It's not just being on the river, it's the unique location looking up the river, the absolutely world class views over the Thaksin bridge and across the city."
“You develop a certain understanding of the relationship of the site to the river where we have this incredible exposure on one side to the river, in contrast to the other side facing the city, with very different light."
“All units have corners and balconies which is one of the key concepts, which we have enhanced with our internal planning of the units. One of the key ideas is to create diagonal views looking up-stream, east and north east, towards the sunset, and towards the central part of the city.”
Gerry said the close working relationship with the concept designers had given rise to special features like modern interpretations of Thai patterns in metal work screens that filter the light and view; special designs for every door and marble hallways in a modern Thai-inspired pattern, extensive use of local woods and custom fabrics developed in tandem with legendary silk fashion and furnishings brand Jim Thompson.
He described the project as a highlight of his career, offering a chance to step back and seriously consider the real meaning of luxury today, which for many increasingly can be defined in terms of time, space and privacy. Those notions, combined with the rich local culture and inspirations mined from the design and cultural vernacular, informed his approach to what will be the world’s biggest Four Seasons Private Residences, as well as the first on an absolute waterfront site in South-east Asia.
“It’s really important for us to not just capture a sense of Bangkok but also a sense of its life, its multiculturalism,” he said. “Everyone I meet is so proud of being Thai, there is a sense of freedom and a very independent spirit that people have that allows them to be very accepting of many different things."
“When you consider the project being located on this amazing site it becomes even more unique as even though it is a 73-storey tower, the entire project, which also includes a Four Seasons Hotel and a Capella Hotel, is actually a very low density development."
“For me, this project has it all, the location and the climate encourages an indoor-outdoor approach to design. To me, it is all about re-examining and distilling the meaning of real luxury. Timeless elegance is all about an enhanced sense of grace and refinement that lives on in one's memory.”
When complete, it will be in prestigious company given the icons of luxury that grace Gerry’s portfolio, including Four Seasons Resort Carmelo in Uruguay; Matsuri, a Japanese restaurant in Santi-ago, Chile; The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto; and gracious senior living facilities in the Tokyo and Kansai areas of Japan. Gerry is also currently designing Four Seasons hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, on an historic site in the ancient city center.
Like many creative types, his wheels are constantly in motion. With architecture degrees from U.C. Berkeley and Harvard (Bachelor and Masters respectively), his project approach is temperately methodical while his application of ideas is allowed to remain fluid.
Since cofounding BAMO in 1991, Gerry has designed urbane, quietly sophisticated properties worldwide. In addition to his hospitality and residential commissions, Gerry also leads the firm’s senior living practice and has designed a number of award-winning, ultra-luxury facilities in Japan which he describes as ‘5-star living through your golden years’.
He has become renowned for his integration of custom furniture and lighting into his projects. Gerry is a member of Hospitality Design’s Platinum Circle, along with his fellow BAMO co-founders Michael Booth, Pamela Babey. That leadership team has grown and they have since been joined by Principals Steve Henry and Dorothy Greene. Gerry’s work has been featured in Interior Design, Hospitality Design, and Town & Country on many occasions.
The BAMO story, as leaders in luxury interior design, begins with the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan, and now includes 5-star hotels, resorts and spas around the world, as well as exclusive condo towers, unique private residences and lavish superyachts. In addition to Four Seasons, BAMO has worked with most of the world’s leading hotel operators including Peninsula, Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Taj, Rosewood, Auberge and Capella, as well as a number of visionary private entrepreneurs, and has commissions in 22 countries spanning five continents. “Each BAMO project is purposely planned, each design is distinctive,” says Gerry. “We don’t have a signature look; instead having style is our hallmark.”
The Ritz-Carlton Residences Toronto Adjacent to the city’s cultural center, the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Toronto convey urban elegance with contemporary interiors that appeal to both young and established homebuyers. Project scope included the residential lobbies at ground level and the 21st floor, amenity spaces, model unit, sales facilities, and residence design for 140 condominium units.
Sun City Tsukaguchi
BAMO designed this “destination” CCRC one hour northwest of Osaka so that private and public spaces are dignified, provide residential comfort, foster community pride, encourage social interaction, and take maximum advantage of light, air and a variety of garden views. Scope included 600 independent living apartments and associated public spaces.
Four Seasons Resort Carmelo
Inspired by the resort’s location along the Rio de la Plata, as well as the client’s love of Southeast Asian culture, BAMO integrated an extensive Balinese art collection within this new, distinctly South American resort. Project scope included lobby, lounges, restaurant, bars, meeting facilities, spa, and 48 guestrooms. The hotel was named “Best Resort Hotel” in Interior Design’s First Annual Hospitality Awards.
Unfolding like a puzzle, Matsuri celebrates the elegance and finesse of Japanese cuisine within The Grand Hyatt Santiago. BAMO transformed a tall, 2,000 square foot gallery space into a captivating 83 seat restaurant on two floors. Project scope included a “street” facade, entry, lounge, booth seating, sushi and teppanyaki bars, and private tatami rooms.
Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli
Built in 1892 on Lago di Garda by the Feltrinelli family, and briefly occupied by Mussolini, the Villa and its outbuildings were transformed by famed hotelier Robert H. Burns into a world class hotel. BAMO oversaw everything the guest can see. Project scope included 21 guestrooms, associated common areas, foyer, salon, dining room, bar, wine cellar, and outdoor dining terrace.
Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai
Within the historic Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai, BAMO redesigned the Taj Club Rooms, as well as the Bell Tower, Coral, and Neptune Suites on the 6th floor. Inspired by the architectural detailing as well as the nearby gardens and sea, the team created suites that maintain the spirit of original grandeur while being fully grounded in the 21st Century.
Mandarin Oriental San Francisco
With a sense of style and contemporary elegance, BAMO’s redesign of Mandarin Oriental San Francisco celebrates the hotel’s preeminent views of the city and the bay. A warm, neutral palette is punctuated with sophisticated shades of silver and blue, reminiscent of the bay’s sparkling water and iconic fog. Project scope included the lobby, new restaurant Brasserie S&P, and 158 guestrooms and suites.
Rosewood Sand Hill
Drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscape, the interiors of Rosewood Sand Hill are classic Northern California.
BAMO mixes European elegance and tradition with casual, indoor/outdoor verve to create a comfortable and stylish retreat. Soothing neutral hues are complemented by rich wood tones of walnut, cherry, and cedar, which are integrated into architectural details and selected furniture pieces.
Soaring above the city with views of both bridges, this 3,315 square foot, grand residence within Millennium Tower is clean-lined yet comfortable. The long-time client, a real estate developer and modern art collector who has served on several museum boards, purchased the unit as a shell and hired BAMO to design, detail, and furnish a streamlined space to display important works by Agnes Martin, Jeff Koons, and others.
This new, three-level private residence on Hong Kong’s Peak is timeless and elegant. BAMO was responsible for the complete design of interior architecture and furnishings of the home, encompassing lavish rooms for entertaining as well as private spaces for the family to enjoy.
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