Chin Lim, Principal & Design Director of Hospitality at HKS on: Remaining relevant, highly creative, and delivering emotion-evoking, award winning luxury hotel design during the pandemic’s travel decline

Chin Lim, Principal & Design Director of Hospitality at HKS on: Remaining relevant, highly creative, and delivering emotion-evoking, award winning luxury hotel design during the pandemic’s travel decline

Those of us working in the travel and hospitality industry tend to count ourselves lucky – and with good reason given that frequent travel opportunities to see and shape some of the most beautiful parts of the world is all in a day’s work.

CHIN LIM, Architect. Portrait taken in his home/office. 2nd March 2022

I have been fortunate enough to find myself catching my breath on countless occasions as I stand on a pristine beach looking out at a stunning sunset, thinking WOW …this is my office for the day…. Until, of course, COVID hit, and everything came to an abrupt stop.

As creative designers we faced a huge challenge, a challenge of the unknown, a challenge of how to stay creative and relevant during this time.

You see, for me – travel, culture, experiences, and human interaction are the key ingredients to creativity. It’s the fuel that stokes the fire of imagination.

Creativity does not exist in a vacuum

-I seek inspiration from all around me, be it fashion, technology, music, the environment, nature, or day-to-day conversations. This is one of the key ingredients of our work.

So, when the world stopped it gave me, like so many others, a huge opportunity to reassess my life. I realised that I needed to find new ways of engaging with inspiration. It was at this time that I chose to take the plunge and start working with a coach. I reached out to Alex Kergall, an executive coach who coaches high performers from different fields. I was his first architect client which was critical to me. I subconsciously wanted someone who could bring insight from a different perspective. I needed Alex to think from outside of the architectural sphere.

What stood out for me about Alex was his holistic, 360° approach to coaching, which encompassed mind, body, heart, and spirit. We can all be guilty of getting so bogged down in our daily tasks that we forget to take the blinkers off and take a good, hard look at ourselves from a macro lens perspective to take sight of the bigger picture.

Everybody’s process for this will be different. Alex helped me work with my need for a morning routine; waking up an hour before the kids every day, so that I have a moment to for myself, to read, exercise, and get set up for the day ahead. Through the coaching journey, we worked on a series of different exercises to keep pushing me.

I have key elements in my week that are not strictly project related which are critical to maintaining
creativity. For me, these are times to paint or draw, time to read and time for side projects. For example, currently I am working on a collaboration with an interior designer and product designer to produce a range of lighting and furniture. While these things might seem to be a distraction when you are busy, Alex and I believe they are a critical part of keeping the mind fresh and motivated. And this has been part of my solution to remaining creative, relevant, and ahead of my game, during recent, unprecedented times.

“The common thread I see when working with high performers is their appetite for growth and Chin was no exception. Enabling Chin to unlock so much potential professionally and personally was achieved by aligning him with meaningful goals and a solid vison, using wellbeing as the driving incentive. – I believe it’s this that positions Chin as a leader in his industry” – Alex Kergall, High Performance Coach.

Technology has also played a huge part in enabling a virtual environment to collaborate in a different way. While we couldn’t gather around physically to work on a project, we could meet virtually. There are now so many tools that enable us to workshop and exchange ideas remotely. We can have many frequent meetings with people from locations all over the world without getting on a plane and that hugely excites me. Travel will always be a critical part of my work and design process but the challenges we have had to go through recently have opened new and exciting ways of working.

My work with Alex had a massive impact in setting a vision of what I wanted to achieve. My creative focus and general wellbeing are at their highest right now, my team and I at HKS are working at the highest echelons of luxury hotels and resorts. Clients routinely notice the passion and uniqueness of our designs -we design with emotion. This enables us to continue working with amazing brands such as Fairmont, Four Seasons, Six Senses, Corinthia, Baccarat and continue to push the envelope of design.

As travel begins to open up, I am hugely optimistic for the future. I cannot wait to travel again and experience the world once more, armed with a renewed vision and powerful purpose.