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Designing A Star Attraction In Georgetown: The Modern Hotel
Traditional architecture is an unmistakable characteristic of many heritage buildings found in Georgetown, Penang's famed UNESCO’s World Heritage area, and it’s likely what makes the Modern Hotel a popular retreat for tourists and locals alike. This heritage hotel has been given a new life, after having undergone a major restoration in December 2019.
Penang-based interior design firm, Nevermore Group dressed its interior spaces with aplomb! It features a fun mix of modern and traditional design styles paired with classy black and white interiors. But the essence, character and bone structure of this building remains in its original state.
We spoke with Chuah Say Yang, Creative Director of Nevermore Group to learn more about his and his team’s experience in completing this project.
Q: Tell us about your client’s requirements for this project
Chuah Say Yang: Before the current owner took over this building, it was formerly a heritage hotel which has been around for a few decades.
To stay competitive with other heritage hotels available in this historical landmark, our client wanted us to create a unique hotel that will leave a memorable and lasting impression for the guests who stay at the hotel, while retaining the façade and the building’s character.
Q: That sounds interesting! So what was the main inspiration behind this design concept?
CSY: The main inspiration behind this design concept was taken from the classic black and white movies that reminisce the good old days of Penang. We believe that by having a monotone colour scheme blending with heritage elements, it will create a striking visual impact for the guests staying at this hotel.
Q: What architectural features or decorative details did you create to achieve the look?
CSY: For the double bedrooms, we decided to place a bathtub in the corridor of each room and clad it with monotone heritage tiles to create a stunning full-height feature wall.
We also dressed the main feature wall of the hotel lobby with full black mosaic tiles. The hotel’s name, Modern Hotel, in the beautiful Chinese calligraphy has also been given a new life with neon light installation.
Q: Tell us about the different renovation works that you have done here. Were there any structural changes made to the building?
CSY: Yes, we had to knock down a couple of walls to fit in more rooms to fulfill our client’s request.
Installing a bath/soak concept in the balcony was something new as well and we also had to perform waterproofing tests before doing the necessary installation on the bathtub and the laying of tiles.
Q: What were your most favourite design elements found in this hotel?
CSY: Definitely the open concept bath found in the double bedrooms and the story wall which was painted in white, found in the hotel lobby. We find it very quirky and fun!
Q: This renovation seems like a huge project to undertake. Did you encounter challenges during the renovation process?
CSY: The timing was critical as we were given only 5 months to complete the entire project. Hence, careful planning and purchasing materials in advance are critical to meet the tight deadline given.
Q: How do you find designing commercial projects different from designing homes?
CSY: The main difference between designing commercial projects and home is that commercial projects are about the brand identities and the customer’s experience while designing for homeowners are more intimate and more about the personal touch.
Q: What are your thoughts on the final result of this project?
CSY: We couldn’t be happier with the end product. It was a memorable experience, having to design a heritage building; to study and to understand the origin and structure of the building. This was an important part of the renovation process in order to restore it to its former glory.
Q: Last but not least...what are Nevermore Group’s plans for the near future?
CSY: We are certainly looking forward to taking up new challenges by stepping out of our comfort zone (Penang) and expanding our business into the Kuala Lumpur market. At the moment, we’re busy with a penthouse project in Kuala Lumpur, so...stay tuned!
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