The superb curation of art and design at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore’s new Tower Wing

as nature intended

Set amidst fifteen acres of lush, tropical greenery and the first Shangri-La of the group to be built in the world, the Shangri-la Singapore is something of an institution in the island state. Its graciously statuesque tower wing – first built in 1971 – recently received an update. The task was entrusted to Japanese interior designer Ryoichi Niwata of Bond Design Studio. Niwata, an artist by training, was at award-winning Japanese design firm Super Potato for 12 years before starting Bond Design Studio in 2011.

Together with the group’s design team, he looked to the hotel’s heritage and enviable surroundings for inspiration. He then formed a concept of an elegant urban resort with art playing a key role in the design intention. To convey the idea of Shangri-la as the mythical utopia between heaven and earth, artworks inspired by five natural elements were commissioned. The first is Wind which occurs the moment one steps into the lobby with the ceiling festooned with thousands of swirling, stylised three-toned metallic leaves. Created by the renowned Studio Sawada Design whose forte is creating nature-inspired artworks for luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co, the ‘Tree Canopy’ installation is a master class is evoking movement in a poetic yet visually dynamic way.

Casting your eyes to ground level, the formality of the central infinity pool is tempered by six delightful sculptures by Korean artist Yi Hwan Kwon who features children at play in the second element, Water. Whether it’s a girl floating with a doughnut float around her waist, or a boy enjoying a dip, submerged to the shoulders in the infinity pool, the figures evoke a sense of uninhibited playfulness. Wood is evoked via the two giant root balls and finishes on the lobby furniture, walls and framing while Trees was interpreted more literally with six potted Ficus Benjamina trees looming over the lobby armchairs.

The imposing Stone installation, by Charlie Albone

The fifth and most imposing installation represents Stone and forms the centrepiece of the lobby lounge. Literally bringing nature inside, the basalt feature wall measuring 9m x 6m is Southeast Asia’s largest indoor natural feature wall and took over 700 hours to install; with a team of three botanists and six specialists. One of Australia’s best landscape designers, Charlie Albone, and his skillful team, constructed the distinctive rock wall from 350kgs of basalt stones flown in from Australia, while a stonemason from Scotland attached it. Tumbling Rabbit’s Foot fern, Jungle and Staghorn ferns and eye-catching purple Spanish sprawl moss add the finishing touch to this eye-catching tableau.

To complete the transformation, the guest rooms and the Horizon Club Lounge have been redesigned while the newly refurbished NAMI Restaurant and Bar was opened replacing fine-dining restaurant Blu. As befitting Winata’s overall concept, all the spaces now convey a chic yet effortless aesthetic – natural beauty at its best.

Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore

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