Modernes Design für innovative Wohnwelten 


(Veröffentlicht in Das Produktkulturmagazin Ausgabe 3 2014)

YOO ist eine Vereinigung von Ideen. Das Können eines der berühmtesten Designer der Welt, Philippe Starck, hat sich mit dem Weitblick des internationalen Immobilienentwicklers John Hitchcox verbunden. Diese beiden in ihrem jeweiligen Fachgebiet führenden Visionäre haben sich für ein wegweisendes Konzept zusammengetan, um die kreative Vielfalt von Starck in den von Hitchcox entwickelten innovativen Bauwerken zu verwirklichen. 

YOO steht für luxuriöses Wohneigentum genauso wie ungewöhnliche Hotels an einzigartigen Plätzen auf der ganzen Welt. Seit 1999 realisiert YOO Projekte in Asien, Australien, Europa, Afrika, Nord- und Südamerika und dem Mittleren Osten. Immer einzigartig, aufregend, inspirierend – wirkliche Originale.

Dabei ist YOO Studio die internationale „Design-Schmiede“ für die ganze YOO-Gruppe. YOO Studio vereint „cutting-edge“ Design-Erfahrungen aus Projekten in 24 Ländern. Sie haben individuelle Designideen für private Wohnwelten wie auch für luxuriöse Hotels realisiert und verwirklichen die Vision der besten internationalen Designer, die für YOO als „Creative Directors“ tätig sind. Darunter große Namen wie beispielsweise Marcel Wanders, Jade Jagger, Kelly Hoppen und natürlich Philippe Starck.

Wir sprechen mit Mathew Dalby, Design Director bei YOO in London, über Innovationen im Bereich Wohndesign und darüber, wie Interior-Design auf soziodemographische Veränderungen antwortet.

 Why do property developers work with YOO? What is so special about YOO?

Mathew Dalby: At YOO we believe in designing globally and thinking locally. This enables us, in every city we create a new project in, to look at how people want to live and produce inspiring, original schemes that offer a way of living they will want in the future. We are very unique in that we offer a bespoke range of design palettes from each of the very talented YOO creative directors, including Philippe Starck, Kelly Hoppen, Jade Jagger, Marcel Wanders and Steve Leung. This creates a higher demand for these properties, which in turn means YOO residences tend to sell more quickly and hold their value.

What also sets YOO apart from most interior design companies is our understanding of how developers work. John Hitchcox’ history with Manhattan Loft Corporation gives us a type of developer “DNA” within the heart of the company. Understanding the wants and needs of a developer, as well as the end-user, greatly informs how we design spaces, creating the perfect balance and an excellent working relationship.  

You’re working on a lot of different YOO Studio projects, like residences and luxury hotels etc. What is the main difference between designs for private residences and for comfortable hotel rooms?

M. D.: A hotel is an opportunity to create a fantasy world, where guests can escape everyday life. We can be outlandish and playful, creating a space that is fun and whimsical to be enjoyed for a finite amount of time. The Mira Moon Hotel in Hong Kong is a recent example of this. The entire hotel was designed by Wanders & YOO around the Chinese fable of the Moon Goddess. The guest has a journey literally to the moon and back, with elements of the story unfolding through elements throughout the hotel.

Residential design has to be suitable for daily life, and fit in with the practicalities of the modern individual and family. YOO is known for our amenities spaces in our residences, and we always inject a sense of wonder and fantasy to these areas. Our recently completed YOO Inspired by Starck residential project in Panama City, YOO Panama, was themed around “play” and has stunning lobby and gym areas with dramatic oversized furniture and bright engaging colours.

What are the main design aspects to create a space to feel comfortable in?

M. D.: When designing a comfortable space, it is important to have a well-rounded understanding of it. As a designer, you must put yourself in the environment: Where is this space and how does it work? What is it being used for? It is all about the person who will be using the space, the individual who will interact with the room. When we talk about comfort, the initial association is often “soft”, but sometimes the environment isn’t inherently soft. Balancing the desire for comfort with something that doesn’t feel too tired is an important marriage to achieve. At the same time you want to make sure the space feels effortless and not too overthought. It is also important that design features complement each other rather than compete for attention. Each of our style palettes offers high-quality finishes and materials that are carefully selected to create beautiful, timeless interiors.

In the last years there was a change in our demands concerning the organization of our living space. For example our work and private spaces are merging more and more. How does interior design correspond to this? 

M. D.: We’ve seen a shift within the residential market in the way people live and how designers create spaces. A while ago, we were seeing repetitive trend-led design, and now we are seeing more timeless, intelligent design. Today we are working, living and socialising under one roof, which technology and design has allowed us to do. Because of this, we desire open plan living, where we can integrate colours and textures to connect and differentiate between interior spaces. 

Innovations in furniture design have also helped with facilitating multi-functional living spaces. Ideally, this is how it should be. Now, office furniture looks like residential furniture and we’re becoming more open to the blurring of lines between office and home. I think it’s also really important to remember where and what you are designing – design global and think local. The best thing is to spend time on the ground getting to know the local community and letting that experience inform the design you are creating. At YOO, we get to spend time with the local people and local manufacturers, this provides us with the most accurate view of how people work and live within a particular area. However, it is also important to bear in mind that residents will also be international, which is why a global perspective is important to keep in mind when deciding how we design for a particular project.

What kind of other trends do we see in interior design due to new social changes? 

M. D.: For the last 15 years since YOO was founded, we’ve seen a steady rise in the development of vertical villages. People want to live and work together in well designed and inspiring communities. As I mentioned previously, the environments in which we work and play are becoming one, which is why combining public spaces and living spaces is essential in our residential projects, allowing this way of life to happen organically. 

It’s exciting to see how we can integrate the residential and public spaces from an architectural point of view. In some cases, we’ll have commercial space at the bottom, sky gardens in the middle and apartments throughout the building. For example, in some of our recent projects, such as Vauxhall Sky Gardens in London, we’ve situated the amenities of the vertical village within the middle of the building. In YOO Panama, we’ve created large amounts of public space on the ground floor inside and around the swimming pools, which has proved very successful. 

You are working together with the world’s best designers like Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders, Jade Jagger, Kelly Hoppen etc. They create fantastic concepts for luxury private residences – fully furnished and equipped. Why don’t clients want to furnish their homes by themselves with their own stuff and according to their individual taste?  

M. D.: You could say „why would you eat at a restaurant when you can cook at home“? It’s the same idea, really. I think the appeal is that someone has created something for you. 

What our Creative Directors create is remarkable. Individuals want to be a part of that. When you are living in a space that was designed for you by one of our designers, it is a privilege. You are part of the YOO family. 

Today you can get almost anything bespoke and that should translate to interiors. With a residence, the design should give you a platform for you to integrate your personal touches. If designed well, those personal touches will work harmoniously in the space. For many people living in YOO residences, this may not be their only property, so it’s really about communicating a desired lifestyle. The design and style of your residential space transcends through the entire building, from the corridors to the common spaces. 

You are responsible for the design and management of YOO’s international portfolio of projects across 29 countries. I’m sure every country has its own taste or preferences when it comes to residential/interior design. What are the most remarkable ones?  

M. D.: Every country we work in brings new possibilities. When you work in India for example, it’s the wealth of people and work around you. The design and architecture is breath-taking and to be able to find inspiration in a place like that is invaluable. In North America you have a completely different approach to design aesthetic, it’s fresh. The look is very different, but is equally rewarding. We also have the pleasure of collaborating with the real artisans and craftspeople in the cities we work in, supplying you with the very best, most genuine materials and products from that specific place. 

Do you see any design preferences which are typical German?   

M. D.: I think it would be a disservice to say anything is “typically” German. Bringing in generalisations of society and culture into design can limit you, restricting possibilities and ideas that may work better. Also, who’s to say what’s “typical” – is it style from two generations ago, or three? What is inherently German though, is the appreciation and origination of modern architecture. Mies van der Rohe and the Bauhaus movement set the benchmark for modern design, reflecting modern Germans’ understanding and appreciation of great design.

What would be a really thrilling project to design for you personally?   

M. D.: I would very much like to work in the Scandinavian countries. Countries such as Norway and Denmark are beautiful and their taste for design is exceptional. It would be wonderful to bring the YOO name to these countries and work with designers within those places to create something exciting and fresh. 

What does inspire you?   

M. D.: Everything, everywhere, at all times – that’s inspiration. If you’re tuned in to what’s around you and you keep your eyes open, then you’re surrounded by inspiration. There are periods of time where you lean towards certain design styles, but sooner or later something different will catch your eye and inevitably lead you down a different avenue. Different cultures inspire me most. It’s the way different people approach and solve their problems while working and living together. 

What is your favourite building?    

M. D.: The Flatiron Building in New York City. I like it because of everything it stood for when it was being built. I have a huge soft spot for New York.  

What was your most exciting YOO project so far?    

M. D.: For me, the most exciting projects are those that I’m working on at that specific moment in time. You’re in the moment and excited daily. Not one of us at YOO suffers from Sunday night sickness – we want to get up on Monday and go do what we do as we are inspired by all of our projects. We create conceptual work that is innovative and makes us want to get out of bed. I’m currently working a lot with new developments within the YOO 2 Hotels. Sitting down with professionals from the field to create a brand new concept for hotels is deeply rewarding.  

Is there a hotel in the world where you always feel at home?   

M. D.: The Standard Hotels or Mercer Hotels, always. Standard have created a brand that doesn’t feel like the norm. The Mercer brand has an effortless approach. The design is great and it isn’t “try too hard” – it works. Ultimately though, I know I will always feel at home at a YOO hotel, because that’s where I know my heart has been poured into. 


As Design Director at YOO Mathew is responsible for the design and management of YOO’s international portfolio of projects across 29 countries. Working on YOO Studio projects globally, Mathew also works with YOO Creative Directors; Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders, Jade Jagger, Kelly Hoppen and Steve Leung on brand specific projects. This has afforded Mathew unique design insight and knowledge that could only come from working with the world’s best. Beginning his career as a traditional architectural junior, Mathew qualified as an architectural technician before completing a degree in Interior Architecture. Mathew went on to run his own multi-award winning architectural practice. Now with over 20 years’ experience, Mathew has created and project managed some of the world’s most exciting developments from luxury hotels and multi million dollar penthouse developments, to award-winning eco-homes, and world famous wineries. It is YOO’s internationalism and the opportunity to adapt the YOO style to so many diverse cultures that Mathew finds most inspiring.

Picture credits © William Furniss

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