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In Profile:
Celia Chu Design & Associates

In Profile:

Celia Chu Design & Associates

Shortlisted: for 1 category

The International Design & Architecture Awards 2024

Name: Celia Chu

Company: Celia Chu Design & Associates

Position within company: Design Principal


Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)

Born and raised in Taipei, Celia Chu has spent her life submerged in the creative arts, with this leading her to pursue a degree at Parsons School of Design, New York. Upon graduation, Celia decided to stay in the Big Apple, joining one of the world’s top interior design firms, and launching her distinguished career in hospitality design. She went on to design many award-winning hotels, restaurants, spas, service apartments, and clubhouses around the globe.

Since 2007, Celia has led a team of talented design professionals at her namesake interior design firm, collaborating with a variety of clients on many prestigious projects, including the Rosewood Bangkok, Intercontinental Hotel in Semiramis Cairo, Egypt, the Ambassador Hotel in Taipei and several Hyatt brand hotels throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Celia’s work has appeared numerous times in many international design publications including Interior, GQ Taiwan and Modern Decoration.

How would you describe your personal design style?

As a designer, I don’t prefer to be simply categorized into a specific style or being labelled. For me, the essence of design lies in creating something truly unique and conveying a meaningful narrative. I take pleasure in using my creations to tell stories, evoking emotions and infusing each design with individuality and depth. This approach ensures that every project I undertake stands out as a distinct and remarkable piece of work. If I were to highlight a design project that exemplifies this original narrative, I would point to the Rosewood Bangkok. Apart from meeting the brand’s requirement for showcasing exquisite design taste, it also required precisely interpreting the local culture and capturing the ambiance of those qualities. The diverse organizational structure and communication among people did present challenges, but they also added an interesting aspect to the entire project and made it the most representative case for CCDA at present.

Where does your design inspiration come from?

Celia Chu’s design philosophy leverages her experiences in both Taipei and New York City which have shaped her perspective on architecture and design. From Taipei, she developed her respect for humanistic values which fostered a design ethos centred on balance and harmony. The energy of New York infused Celia with creativity, encouraging her to push past conventional boundaries and spin unique narratives with her designs. These influences have guided her approach to projects throughout their conception.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?

The scale for interior space has already started the change. For hospitality design, hotels are no longer just filled with grand and beautiful spaces but serving as the connection from people to cultures. However, sustainability is one of the most important subject that everyone should get addressed. We hope for more consultants and suppliers in the business to make our design as green as possible – for a better future.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2025 and beyond.

The scale for interior space has already started the change. For hospitality design, hotels are no longer just filled with grand and beautiful spaces but serving as the connection from people to cultures. However, sustainability is one of the most important subject that everyone should get addressed.  We hope for more consultants and suppliers in the business to make our design as green as possible – for a better future, there are five essential themes that I would focus on:

  1. Eco-friendly Design: While this is already in every designer’s mind, it still needs a push in every project and aspect. Using sustainable materials and energy sources is crucial to minimize environmental impact.
  2. AI-enhanced Living: Seamlessly integrating high technology with design into the interior not only improves quality and convenience but also promotes healthier and happier living. Smart home systems, automation, and personalized health management are now standard elements in our designs.
  3. Vague Boundary between Home Living and Hotel Living: Blending home and hotel lifestyles requires a delicate balance of comfort, functionality, and luxury. Prioritizing personalized design, I ensure the space reflects the client’s identity. Flexibility is key, with multifunctional areas mirroring hotel amenities. Attention to detail and seamless technology integration elevate the ambiance. Luxurious amenities rival those of a hotel, offering a sense of escapism. Signature touches add character, creating an immersive living experience tailored to client desires.
  4. Closer Connection to Nature
  5. Visual/ physical Extension of Indoor to Outdoor Spaces.

These themes will shape future design, making living environments more comfortable, healthy, and sustainable.

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?

My advice would be to prioritize creating an experience rather than just a space. Design schemes should aim to evoke emotions, and what kind of story to tell, and cater to the senses. Consider what you want people to feel when they enter the space and what narrative you want to convey. Whether it’s a sense of calm and tranquility in a living room or a feeling of sophistication and luxury in a hotel lobby, design with intentionality to curate memorable experiences for those who inhabit the space.

How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?

The International Design & Architecture Awards are highly regarded in the industry, offering valuable recognition and networking opportunities for professionals worldwide.

What projects are you currently working on?

Currently, we are working on a diverse range of projects, including five-star hotels and high-end serviced apartments. What we particularly emphasize are the standalone private high-end apartments design. Our goal is to elevate the entire apartment living experience, making it akin to a luxurious travel experience even within one’s home. The challenge we face is that even the scale of public spaces in these apartments is similar to hotels. However, the units are much larger than the hotel suites. Moreover, the clientele we serve differs significantly. Hotels cater to the general public, with open spaces accessible to anyone. In contrast, our approach for these apartments is limited to the community or members. These spaces are not open to the public with a focus on privacy and individuality, demanding a different design approach.

What was your favourite project to work on and why?

Each project completed to date has been a deeply enjoyable process, with each one carrying its own profound and unique story. I am immensely satisfied and proud of how these stories have been faithfully portrayed in the projects. If I were to mention the most challenging project among them, it would be the Rosewood Hotel in Bangkok. The challenge of this project lies in the “people” aspect! Besides needing to meet the brand’s requirement for showcasing the utmost in design taste, it also required capturing the essence of the local culture and customs accurately. The diverse organizational structure and communication between individuals also presented challenges, but this ultimately added to the project’s intrigue, making “her” my proudest accomplishment.

What was your most challenging project to work on and why?

One of the most challenging projects I worked on was the conceptual design for a Ningbo hotel in China in 2023. Despite the economic impact of the pandemic on our client, we were restricted to handling only the conceptual design phase. However, our team’s dedication to innovation and creativity allowed us to overcome these constraints. Despite the limitations, the overall conceptual narrative successfully captured the essence of our original design vision, showcasing our ability to adapt and excel amidst challenging circumstances. Additionally, our involvement in exclusive private residential projects stood out as a highlight of the year. Despite the challenging circumstances, collaborating with discerning clients who admired our designs and were fans of our work, having experienced the luxurious Rosewood Bangkok hotel, was a rewarding experience. Their trust in our vision allowed us to invest the necessary time and creativity to complete the designs to perfection, resulting in the creation of two exquisite and bespoke private residences.

Which products/services could you not live without when designing?

When it comes to designing, AI technology has become indispensable, not only as a trend but also for enhancing efficiency and creativity. It helps streamline tasks and allows for more creative exploration. Additionally, for personal well-being and inspiration, I find traveling, watching movies, and being in nature essential. These experiences provide me with fresh perspectives, cultural insights, and moments of tranquility that often spark new design ideas and concepts.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

Personally, one of my dreams is to actively engage in projects related to low carbon and self-sustainability. I am eager to utilize renewable energy technology and integrate it into designs to create projects that not only exude technical sophistication but also aesthetic appeal. Achieving this environmental concept requires close collaboration and coordination with clients, sustainable product suppliers, and the entire team. Our goal is to create design solutions that not only adhere to sustainable principles but also captivate aesthetically.

The entire design team actively embraces similar challenges. We seek opportunities to participate in projects that emphasize environmental protection and sustainability, striving to embed these principles into our work. Through continuous learning and collaboration with industry leaders, we are committed to creating innovative, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing design solutions to meet the needs of today’s society and market.

Overall, our aim is to provide clients with more sustainable and environmentally friendly design solutions without compromising aesthetics. We firmly believe that through cooperation and continuous effort, we can achieve this vision.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your most treasured possession? 

All the experiences I’ve had until today. The people and history I’ve come to know through design, the landscapes and beauty I’ve seen through design, the tastes I’ve experienced, the sounds I’ve heard, and the emotions I’ve felt through touch. Everyone has gone through the pandemic years… These are all experiences that, even though we may have been confined to our own countries, provide me with the greatest energy I can continue to receive. They are something inside me that cannot be taken away.

Your favourite holiday destination?  
There are so many places I love, but now I consider my favorite holiday destination to be wherever my friend is, around the world.

Your favourite book, film & song?

The Great Gatsby. I love the glamorous era portrayed in the movie. They knew how to live and throw parties. Since I’m a workaholic and have never lived that kind of life, it attracts me. I like its style, the joy of their parties, and the love story. From a cinematic perspective, it does a great job with the settings, costumes, and colors.


Your favourite food and drink?

Taiwanese braised pork rice (滷肉飯). It’s a simple dish that captures the homemade flavors every Taiwanese mother knows how to cook.

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Watching a great movie with a Gin Tonic in hand.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

A chef. I care a lot about plating, just like our designs. It shouldn’t be just about what you see, the same goes for food. It’s not just an experience for the taste buds, but a combination of many senses. So, what chefs and designers do is quite similar.

Anything else interesting?

I would like to share one true story behind the White Rose Chapel, Grand Hyatt Fukuoka, which moved and touched me even until now. A few years after the chapel was completed there was a big typhoon that hit Fukuoka. It brought damage to many people’s lives including a farmer of a rose garden. All his lifetime’s work was destroyed in a second. He was really depressed but he got to visit the White Rose Chapel I designed by chance. He was so inspired and encouraged how people could be stunned by the beauty of the rose. He talked to the hotel manager and made up his mind to rebuild the rose garden again. What surprised and moved me is that the concept story for the design it is truly not only for its look but it is what can catch people’s heart and even could help someone with its positive energy. This keeps me motivated and moved to this day to keep on creating amazing and unique designs for my private residential and commercial hotel design clients around the world.

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The International Design & Architecture Awards 2024
are organised by design et al and sponsored by:

Sylka Carpets
Joseph Giles

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