The Yak got down low on a comfy sofa, and chatted with a number of Bali’s top Architects cum Interiors/Concept specialists…Those bricks, mortar and design experts…
Your name, your business and which projects (on and off Bali) have you been involved with?
Hi, I’m Christin Castillo and I lead as Associate Director for HBA Indonesia, representing both our Jakarta and Bali offices. HBA (Hirsch Bedner Associates) is renowned in the design space as the World’s Leading Hospitality Design Firm.
We have a multitude of projects that we have done over the 6 years of our presence here in Indonesia. A few notable projects are the Sari Pacific Hotel renovation in Thamrin, the Phinisi at Ayana Lako Di’a, Holiday Inn Sanur & soon to open – Episode Hotel in Serpong
What was it that drew you to Interior Design?
I started my career as an Architect in the Philippines and somehow during the course of my professional life, I have been drawn to Interior Design. I should say at that time it was a combination of good company among peers where we had a great ‘A-Team’ in my earlier practice & it made me transition into Interior Design. So the shift to my choice was very organic and as I got acquainted with the projects, I eventually grew fond of it.
What / who were your main influences when you started out in this profession?
Honestly answering this question, it should be my previous boss when I was working in the Middle East, I had the chance to work at a firm when my reporting head gave me the freedom to express my design abilities, and he guided me in such a way that I was able to exercise my ideas and even execute his ideas. The part wherein I took ownership of his direction and made it my own work, both for us and the outcome of that collaboration, was very successful.
What other professions had you gone through before cushioning into this one?
To add to my earlier story, I am an Architect by profession, we tend to be very square on how we see design, so transitioning to Interiors allowed me to soften my approach on design and look at every detail. Most of my decisions are meant to respect the Architectural language and compliments the overall vision, and not to disconnect the inside from the outside.
How long have you dedicated yourself in designing “what’s on the inside”?
Oh my, it’s a long journey, I’m on my 17th year of my design practice, and 8 years under HBA (from Singapore to Indonesia). I have built our Jakarta base from a 5-man team into the current 32 designers platform, and with the current organizational change, I’ve inherited our Bali team of 12. And that process of building the business has been my joy and has kept me running through the years. My passion to build, create and be able to share with the client’s vision has been my goal… it doesn’t hurt as well that we are having fun along the way.
What do you think sets you/your company apart from others?
We have a process and a standard, in every project, there is a system in our approach that we adhere to, it makes the process quite fluid, and our clients approach us for our capacity to ‘move’ the project forward. We’re a well oiled machine, which knows how to get the project from A-Z. Our way of working is engrained in each designer and so there is consistency within our work. I think that’s very important, aside from being able to manage all sorts of scales of projects.
Do you/your company have an interior design mantra? A tagline?
To say it with much pride: HBA is the World’s Leading Hospitality Design Firm!
We don’t want to know the name but who (client) or what (venue) was the biggest challenge – actually, we just want the why! Why was it so challenging?
Clients would definitely have the best life experiences, and more likely than not, it wouldn’t come close to ours, so when what they’ve seen and what they’ve experienced becomes their design vision, it can be very challenging. Their design taste is ever changing and our goal is to be able to find the right solution between the end user and the client’s taste. We are their bridge, and when we have accomplished that, it is very rewarding.
Best project ever?
Each office, Bali & Jakarta, have accomplished great projects that have tested the team’s perseverance and creativity. For our Jakarta Team, that would be the Gunpowder at Plaza Indonesia, and for the Bali Team, it’s their Phinisi project for Ayana Lako Di’a.
Who would be your dream client?
I suppose I’m speaking on behalf of all design firms’ wish list: A client who has a grand vision & who would give us design freedom and is equally pumped to build their dream, within a reasonable timeline.
Better question, if you/your company were calling the shots, what criteria would make that client a dream client?
Adding to my answer above, a client who has a lovely design budget that will allow us to explore new approaches in interpreting their design brief and be able to hash a new and unique brand/product.
How big was your biggest project?
Currently it’s a massive Mixed-Mixed-use development that caters to corporate offices, hotel, casino, beach club & spa in Cambodia.
Which was your smallest?
A very humble yet unique landed house.
Which do you prefer – private or commercial properties?
We mainly do commercial projects, the aim is always to solve the design taste catering to the general public. However private projects create another degree of challenge, which I am willing to see how we would fare.
Hotels, malls or resorts?
I would say hotels and resorts. The Jakarta Team are accustomed to urban spaces and the Bali Team, true to their location: resort projects. They intermix every now and then.
How big is your own house? And how much of “you” did you bring into that space?
A very humble 120 sqms apartment, oddly, it’s the game room that became the main expression of myself, it’s my escape, and I’ve spent most of my time there especially during the lockdown.
Any renovations, or builds, within your own space that you wish to share?
I’m very much a private person when it comes to my own space, so I would let our projects be the testament of our team’s design expression.
There’s 2 of them, the Jakarta Team was shortlisted for the Restaurant and Bar Awards in 2020 for their work on Gunpowder Kitchen & Bar at Plaza Indonesia. And secondly, the current roster of design teams that we have in the Jakarta and the Bali teams. I am genuinely proud of their dedication and commitment to their trade and being able to share their careers with HBA in service to our clients, we wouldn’t have reached this point if it wasn’t for all of them.
What is on your Interior design bucket list?
We are always looking for a project that will be unique, bespoke and will take interest from all diversities of life. We’re always hungry for the next design challenge, and that by itself is a never ending bucket list.
And lastly if The Yak had a project and was looking for an interior designer why would we choose you / your company?
HBA Indonesia has the drive and capability to fulfill your requirements, and the creations we produce are the results of the cumulative years of experience passed on to every designer that is engaged on each project. Our range of service is multidisciplinary with Interior Design, Architecture and Lighting Design (illuminate) under one roof. We are here to collaborate and have a great exchange of ideas that would generate the client’s interest, create creative solutions that will define your project as a unique end product.
Christin, It’s been a pleasure – Thank you for your time.