Discover PURE Design Studio’s Contemporary Approach to Hospitality Design

April 17, 2023

Welcome to an exclusive interview with the winner of the prestigious Architectural Design of the Year award at the LIV Hospitality Design Awards 2022. PURE Design Studio Vietnam is known for its innovative and contemporary approach to hospitality design, and its award-winning project has set a new benchmark in the industry. In this interview, we will delve into their design philosophy, and creative process, and learn about the inspiration behind their winning project. Join us as we explore the world of PURE Design Studio and gain insight into what makes them one of the most sought-after firms in the industry.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your professional journey? How did the design come to have such an important role in your life?

As a passionate designer and entrepreneur, I was always driven by new design and architecture. Especially growing up in a family that had roots in the hospitality development industry in Vietnam, allowed me to embark on a life-changing journey 15 years ago when I decided to move to Vietnam to explore new opportunities and challenges.

Upon arriving in Vietnam, I quickly realized the immense potential of the country’s rapidly developing construction industry. I saw an opportunity to create special and unique projects and decided to start my architecture and development company. With the help of my brother Thomas Lennaerts, who shared my passion for design and business, we set up PURE Design Studio and began to build a team of skilled architects, engineers, and designers.

Over the years, our company has grown and evolved, taking on increasingly complex and ambitious projects. We have designed high-end resorts and hotels as well as large-scale residential developments.

Our company has become a respected and sought-after architecture firm in Vietnam, known for its innovative designs, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence. 

Reflecting on my journey, I am proud of what we have accomplished over the years and grateful for the support and dedication of our team. I believe that Vietnam’s vibrant and dynamic culture has played a key role in shaping the company’s success, and I remain committed to contributing to the country’s continued growth and development.

Looking to the future, I am excited to continue pushing the boundaries of architecture and design, exploring new approaches, and creating projects that inspire and delight people around the world.

Avana Retreat by Pure Design Studio

Is there a philosophy, a vision, or a special process that influences how you approach design? Would you say that you apply it to your life as well?

My design philosophy is deeply rooted in the idea of creating meaningful and sustainable spaces that enhance the human experience. I believe that architecture should be more than just a functional structure; it should be a space that tells a story and connects people to their surroundings.

One of the key elements of our approach is the integration of nature and the environment into the projects. I believe that buildings should be designed with a deep respect for the natural world, and that architecture should work in harmony with its surroundings. This approach is especially evident in our AVANA resort project, which incorporates green spaces, natural light, and natural materials.

We work closely with our clients and with our team of architects and designers, to ensure that everyone’s vision is represented in the final product.

We often draw inspiration from local culture, history, and traditions, and incorporate these elements into our designs, in a way that honors the past while looking to the future, which also applies to my life philosophy.

How did you incorporate key elements of ethnic identities, specifically those of the local Hmong tribes, into your design?

The Hmong tribes have a deep connection to their environment, and their architecture often reflects this. To create a sustainable, environmentally friendly building that reflects the local culture, local materials are used, such as wood, stone, and palm thatch roofs.

Many Hmong traditions are steeped in symbolism and meaning. Incorporating these elements into the design of a building added a layer of cultural significance and depth. For example, traditional motifs or patterns have been incorporated into the interior design of the building, and the use of specific colors can represent different aspects of the Hmong culture. We also designed the layout of AVANA Retreat to be similar to that of typical tribal villages, where stilted houses are spread across the site surrounding a main community center building—in this case, the main restaurant.

Sustainability is an important aspect of Hmong culture, and incorporating sustainable design principles into the architecture helps to preserve the environment and maintain the connection to nature that is central to the Hmong way of life. Meticulously hand-built earth walls reproduce the look and feel of Hmong houses. The earth wall helps the villa stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

In your opinion, how important is it to incorporate traditional and environmentally friendly architectural styles into modern designs?

Incorporating traditional and environmentally friendly architectural styles into modern designs is increasingly important as we face environmental challenges and a loss of cultural heritage. 

Traditional and environment-friendly architectural styles often prioritize the use of local materials, passive solar design, and other sustainable practices. By incorporating these elements into modern designs, we can create buildings that are more environmentally friendly, reduce energy consumption, and minimize waste.

Traditional architectural styles are often reflective of the local culture and history of a region. By applying these elements to modern designs, we can help preserve and celebrate cultural heritage, which is important for maintaining a sense of identity and connection to the past.

These styles often have a unique and timeless beauty that can enhance the overall aesthetics of modern designs. Incorporating traditional elements such as ornamental details, natural materials, and cultural symbols can add a layer of meaning and interest to the design.

In this project, more than 5000 trees have been replanted, to not only balance the impact of the building work but also reduce the carbon footprint of future operations and make the project blend into nature even more. 

What did you find most challenging while working on the project and what did you enjoy the most?

One of the most significant challenges we may have faced during the design process was the steep topography of the project site and the integration of the natural and cultural elements of the region into the resort. Finding a solution that satisfies everyone’s needs while ensuring that the design is functional, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing was a complex and challenging task.

We also faced the challenge of designing a resort that stands out in a crowded market. The hospitality industry is highly competitive in terms of design, and many resorts around the world offer unique experiences and services. Creating a design that captures the imagination of potential guests and distinguishes itself from competitors can be a daunting task.

Despite these challenges, we found designing the resort to be a rewarding and exciting experience. The project allowed us to apply our design philosophy, explore innovative design concepts, and create an unforgettable experience for guests. 

Designing the resort has provided me with an opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture, explore new materials, and learn from local traditions and architectural styles. I have also enjoyed the creative freedom that comes with designing a resort, where I could explore new ideas and push the boundaries of what is possible in architecture, like with the special pool design, where we used the homogenous shapes of the rice fields as inspiration and implemented these on the pool shapes to seamlessly blend into the landscape. 

What does winning the LIV Awards mean to you in terms of validation and recognition of your work in the architecture industry?

Winning the LIV Awards is a significant achievement for PURE Design Studio. It is a validation of our talent, hard work, and dedication to creating exceptional designs that inspire and evoke emotions. The recognition from the LIV Awards is an acknowledgment of the impact our work has on the architecture industry and the communities it serves.

For us, winning the LIV Awards means that our work has been recognized by a prestigious organization in the architecture industry. It is a testament to our expertise and ability to deliver innovative and high-quality designs that meet the needs of our clients and communities.

Moreover, winning the LIV Awards can help us build up our reputation and credibility as a design firm. It can open up new opportunities, attract new clients, and help us gain more exposure in the architecture industry. It also boosts our confidence, inspires us to continue to innovate, and pushes boundaries in our work.

Are you currently working on something new that you can tell us about? 

We are currently working on a large-scale residential development in central Vietnam with 288 villas and an integrated resort/rental concept for second-home buyers. On this project, we are now facing the challenge of ensuring that the design is functional, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing but also feasible for our client. 

In the future, would you like to repurpose the idea behind this project? 

Generally yes, as sustainable design, which blends nicely into the given landscape, is our main goal for each project, but we certainly need to consider the goals and wishes of our clients, who might have other ideas in mind for their projects. Therefore, each project will have a unique design approach depending on the location and cultural elements of each region while still implementing our design philosophy. 

What advice would you offer to aspiring architects or designers who dream of establishing themselves in the industry?

Be creative, the architecture and design industry values creativity and innovation. Think outside the box and come up with unique ideas that differentiate you from others.

Stay up to date with the latest trends and techniques in the industry. Follow industry publications and keep learning to stay relevant.

Develop a strong portfolio, your portfolio is the showcase of your work. It should demonstrate your design style, showcase your best projects, and be tailored to your target audience.

Be passionate about design and don’t expect it to be easy, as architecture and design are challenging and often stressful professions that require commitment, hard work, and dedication. If you can do that and love what you do, it will show in your work, and you can be successful in this field.

Photo credit: Avana Retreat – more information.