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March 12, 2022

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Thai interior designer values teamwork to create beauty

Mai Chongchaiyo was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, where he graduated from Chulalongkorn University with a degree in interior architecture. Prior to joining Steve Leung Design Group he worked at several international design firms, including Steelman Partners in Las Vegas, Wimberly Interior in Los Angeles and EDG Interior Architecture + Design in Singapore, primarily focusing on high-end hospitality projects. He joined SLD in 2017 as a design director. One year later, Chongchaiyo was promoted to director of design at Steve Leung Hospitality, a brand under the SLD specializing in designs for hotels, serviced apartments, restaurants and bars. His current role at SLD is overseeing hospitality and food & beverage projects on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas.

Tell us about some of your works, and name the one you are most proud of.

At SLD I had the privilege of embarking on numerous high-caliber projects with my talented team, navigating from initial creative concepts to final design executions. Some of the works I am proud of are HEXA in Hong Kong, which is a contemporary Cantonese restaurant with a spectacular view of Victoria Harbor as its backdrop, crafted to pay tribute to the charming atmosphere of Hong Kong in the 1960s. The St Regis Bar in Macau is another project conceived to set new standards for discerning connoisseurs of culture, the setting of which exudes a distinctive British style that honors the timeless elegance of British heritage and captures the unfading charisma of the past. Club C+ in Hong Kong is a comfortable, exclusive, home-from-home club and a deluxe, one-stop lifestyle destination. Chinese contemporary aesthetics and British accents are blended into this sophisticated environment, where elites can indulge in Cantonese delicacies, fine wines, rare cigars and exceptional artwork. Also worth mentioning is Wilmar International Headquarters in Singapore, which is one of my most recent projects. The interiors of this understated workspace pay tribute to Singapore’s luxurious nature and the city’s traditional tiered terraces. Award-winning British architect Eric Parry curated the organic lines of the external architecture that we integrated within the existing environment of this highly sustainable building.

What project are you currently working on?

Right now I’m working with my team on the following projects:

The Arcana show houses in Hong Kong, which are nestled in the natural wanders of Lantau Island. We wanted to narrate a tale of two elegant houses embraced by breathtaking views of the surrounding sea. The two-story abodes create each a different kind of luxury statement, emphasizing a contemporary or more classical approach for a living experience of ultimate prestige.

The Londoner Collection hotel, Macau rides on the key design concept of The Londoner and The Londoner Court hotels — new milestone landmarks in Macao’s hospitality and entertainment landscape. The hotel aims to portray the innermost essence of London’s lifestyle through the most sophisticated design lexicon.

The Chinese restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Ho Chi Minh City is located in a beautiful, historic building. The design of this upscale restaurant was inspired by the cultural roots of the “Hoa people” — Vietnamese of full or partial Han descent, reinterpreting the rich legacies of Chinese and Vietnamese identities throughout the space.

Following the great success of our VIP private lounge designed for Qeelin’s first flagship store in China in 2020, we are teaming up once again with this fine jewelry brand to design an understated space for its new flagship store in Ginza — Tokyo’s most famous upmarket shopping district.

Other ongoing projects I would like to mention include luxury serviced apartments and hotel rooms at The Address Harbour Point in Dubai Creek — a major development area in Dubai, and the suites’ renovation project at Marina Bay Sands — the most iconic hotel in Singapore.

Where are you most creative?

I definitely feel the most inspired during a project’s research phase and brainstorming sessions, when I have the opportunity to explore new ideas with other creative people.

What does your home mean to you?

I envision home as a safe and comfortable place where I can recharge after hectic days at work, feel happy and maybe even act a little silly.

What do you collect?

I am far from being a collector in the proper sense of the word. I have always been passionate about watches, design books, music and movies, and I used to collect all of these things. However, after moving around and living in so many different cities, I seldom collect anything anymore.

What will be the next big design trend?

I tend to express my opinions based on final design outcomes rather than specific design styles. I think the next big design trend will revolve around a sense of being extreme: extremely elegant, extremely luxurious and extremely minimal. I foresee the standards of the interior profession becoming higher and our industry becoming more competitive. There will not be any space left for basic or mediocre design solutions; they will either be extremely good or extremely bad.

I’m also very curious to see how the post-pandemic era redefines our traditional approach to design. Let’s take workspace as an example. In the future, I envision multifaceted and flexible work environs designed in a way that ensure a proactive and resilient work-life balance. Under the new normal, people will be able to work through different paradigms: on site, from home and even in the fascinating Metaverse. I am excited to see how design takes all these new needs and expectations into consideration.


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