One Story At A Time: Clint Nagata on Luxury in Hospitality

Behind every destination is a story of culture and style, and Clint Nagata of BLINK Design Group aspires to captivate travelers through realizing these concepts

  • February 6, 2020

  • Written by Kristoff Sison

  • Photographs by Ed Simon of Studio 100

What makes a destination unforgettable? For frequent travellers, hotels might seem monotonous–the same white concrete walls and gold accents. It is this question posed by BLINK Design Group that challenges them to reshape the luxury hospitality landscape. Clint Nagata, Founder and Co-CEO of BLINK, sees to it that every experience deserves an unforgettable place. Last October 29, 2019, at the 4th Kohler Design Forum, Nagata presented the impact of luxurious hospitality design–how creating such environment leads to a celebration of culture, individuality, beauty, and expression.

Clint Nagata elaborates on experiential luxury through BLINK’s illustrious body of works. Pictured is the luxury waterfront hotel Regent Phu Quoc in Vietnam

“Travel is not what it used to be,” Nagata claimed. Mapping out a constellation all over the globe, there are more luxury hotels being built today than ever before. Yet a lot of them feel like “your father’s hotel,” donning cliche accents and visuals that barely scratch the surface of experiential luxury. These destinations should not just look the part, but feel the part as well. The spirit of BLINK lies in the experience–the luxury of feeling more alive, captivated, exhilarated, soothed, and inspired.

“With so many changes and opportunities that we have [in luxury design], people will expect something different. You have to design and deliver something different. You don’t really need to say much–the design should tell a story in itself,” said Nagata. Expressing individuality in design is BLINK’s strong suit. Nagata and the group explore vernacular style, history, and culture as rich sources of ideas. From native patterns, color palettes, and materials, these lush environments never feel alien to locals in the area or visiting tourists. Their design is intended to be welcoming, centered on the uniqueness of a specific location–always authentic and in harmony with its surroundings.

The Amanoi Spa Houses in Ninh Thuan, Vietnam preserves as much of the original landscape and vegetation as possible, keeping it a tranquil haven for guests
The freestanding private spa houses are made of local materials over imports, combining the spirit of the place with the ethos of Aman Resorts

“Luxury could be unusual at first, but when you think about it, it should make sense,” said Nagata. He showcased one of his latest projects, the Amanoi Spa Houses in Ninh Thuan, Vietnam, as an example of this. The private spa houses were made to appear as if they were part of the property from the very beginning, surrounded by lightly touched land and vegetation. Locally-sourced cobblestone and wood comprise the spa’s build. Instead of a grandiose, overwhelming presentation akin to the traditional sense of luxury, Nagata and the team captured the essence of tranquility through immersion and privacy.

As stated in BLINK’s profile site: “We create magic, orchestrating the interplay of elements–material and immaterial–to engage the spirit, reward the senses, and fuel the imagination.” From a lifestyle trend that started nearly 20 years ago, hotel companies are now forced to think outside of the box to offer bespoke experiences to people. These destinations should captivate guests to make them yearn for more–to be moved by the beauty of the experience itself.

Nagata asserts that every project by the team is singular. They are marvels that can only exist in the space it was designed to reside in. No two are alike, even for hotels and resorts under the same brand. This holistic approach in design–from concept to completion, embracing cultural integration in every step–is Clint Nagata’s trump card that has earned BLINK Design Group its place as one of the elite luxury hospitality design firms.

READ MORE: Fulfilling Aspirations: Cynthia and Ivy Almario on Luxury in Interior Design

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