On 7 March, Bill Bensley will be recognised for his incomparable contributions to the hospitality industry during the AHEAD Asia 2019 ceremony in Singapore.
28 February, 2019
Widely respected hospitality designer Bill Bensley takes an energetic approach to his practice. Even without assessing the charisma of the many hotels, resorts and spas he has designed, that much is vividly apparent on the Bensley Design Studio website.
There, the visitor can scroll through lists (in handwritten-style typeface) of ‘Bensley favourites’: designers and artists (both ‘alive and kicking’ and ‘dearly departed’), museums, public gardens, hotels, gardens, shopping venues, drives, big cities, small towns, ancient and modern buildings, adventures, movies, books… and favourite designs by his own studio. Bensley’s bucket list is there too – a list of ten travel-focused ambitions that would have him traversing the globe for a variety of adventures.
Clearly, this is a person who retains an unquenchable fascination with the world – an ideal quality, you might say, for a designer, and especially for a designer focused on the hospitality sector. “Designing a hotel is akin to producing a Hollywood movie,” he writes on his website. “Hotels and movies both need a strong compelling storyline,” he adds. And with each design, Bensley strives to do something different to what he has done before.
Bensley has studios in Bangkok and Bali and has been practising since 1989. His small atelier is populated by architects, interior designers, artists and landscape architects – a mix that allows for a cohesive response to project briefs.
His body of work spans across over 200 projects and often places great importance on conservation of the natural environment upon which his designs intervene. This delicate approach has as its bases a desire to place small-footprint structures between trees rather than cut them down, to make use of the natural drainage patterns of the land, and to grow food and produce energy locally.
The thoughtfulness of his approach to the site and how it is occupied finds a counterpoint of sorts in the Indonesian phrase lebih gila, lebih baik – translating to ‘the crazier, the better’ – which is often used to summarise his design approach. After 30 years of practice, fun and a vivid approach to design remain at the heart of Bensley’s work and demeanour.
Notable recent works include the Shinta Mani Wild in Cambodia, which combines world-class design with exceptional efforts in the conservation of nature. He has also led an intensive renovation of the Four Seasons Langkawi, which saw the hotel become a more daring version of its former design. The Slate in Phuket incorporates strong and playful reference to the tin mining which is historically synonymous with the island.
AHEAD (Awards for Hospitality Experience and Design) will award Bill Bensley as the recipient of the AHEAD Asia 2019 Outstanding Contribution Award on 7 March 2019 at the Andaz Singapore. Bensley will join an illustrious list of recipients of this award, including Kerry Hill, Adrian Zecha and Jaya Ibrahim.
The Indesign Media Asia team will be there on the night, proudly presenting one of the AHEAD Asia award categories.
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