Clint Nagata on Resort Living in Architecture, As Inspired by His Hawaiian & Japanese Roots
Growing up in Hawaii, Clint Nagata has always been around resort living and architecture. On his first role in the creative industry, Nagata noted that he was drawn in by a newspaper ad 'looking for creatives', leading to the start of his pursuit in the architecture and design world. Fast forward to 2006, the established designer started his own company, BLINK Design Group, which has expanded its presence in Asia with studios in Shanghai, Bangkok and Singapore. He shares with us his inspirations for design and what to look forward to in the design industry.
How did you get into hospitality architecture and design?
As fate would have it many years ago, before graduating from University in Hawaii I applied to an ad in the newspaper that said, "creative individuals wanted." I was fortunate to have gotten a job at WATG and had the even greater fortune of learning about the hospitality design business under the mentorship of Donald Goo. It was through my years at WATG and the opportunities I had to travel back and forth to Asia that I developed a passion for travel and hospitality design.
How has growing up in Hawaii influenced you and your design process?
CN: Growing up in Hawaii really helped to shape my sense of refined aesthetics and my appreciation for resort living. I remember always being able to enjoy its beautiful beaches and resorts and appreciate what it's like to live with nature. The idea of designing a space or a building that was harmonious with its surrounding has always felt intuitive. My refined edited aesthetic palette or appreciation for simplicity comes from my Japanese heritage on my father's side.
What makes BLINK Design Group unique?
We truly believe that creating memorable spaces is taking every client on a shared journey. We are passionate about crafting individual journeys and experiences centred around guests and the place. Inspired by our passion for travel, constant exploration, and enjoyment of the world is what has shaped BLINK’s design philosophy and approach for each and every project.
Pictured: Regent Phu Quoc
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?
We have some exciting projects that are set to open this year including The ROKU in Kyoto and Regent Phu Quoc. I just had a virtual walkthrough of our project in Kyoto and it's pleasing to see the quality level of construction they are able to achieve in Japan. Regent Phu Quoc – I believe will be the first Regent resort to open under the brand's rebranding so that too is certainly exciting.
Where are your top five travel destinations?
In the past before COVID-19, I had the opportunity to travel nearly every week and after 14 months of not being able to leave Thailand, I am anxiously waiting for the chance to jump on a plane and see the world. The top five destinations for me that I would love to travel to next would be:
Italy to eat and enjoy the food
France to live in the orchards and submerse myself in wine
Greece for its historical architecture and amazing Mediterranean food
Uruguay for my first adventure into South America
Hawaii for its beautiful beaches and it will always be home to me
Do you have a favourite design element or detail in interiors?
I guess I would have to say guest room bathrooms. I enjoy staying in hotels and resorts that have bathrooms that are different. Some are more spa orientated like the guest rooms at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong Plateau Spa and some are a room in themselves like the beach villas at Raffles Maldives with its oversized soaking tub, double island vanity, double shower, and walk in dressing room.
What are some interesting design trends you've noticed recently?
I've noticed that there are a lot more designs popping up that are embracing the idea of biophilia and not only in hotel and resorts. If there is one positive thing to come out of this pandemic, it's that it has forced us to appreciate nature perhaps more than we have in the past.