Small Talk: Details of TUVE Hotel by Design Systems

May 25, 2017



Patrick Kasingsing

Hong Kong studio Design Systems wants its guests to go on a ‘treasure’ hunt in Tin Hau’s TUVE Hotel and SILVER Room restaurant. The prize? Design details and flourishes you would never have noticed if you weren’t looking. Here are just some of them.

Lobby Counter | Three brass plates, roughly 2.7 meters in length, with weld marks undisguised, form lobby counter of TUVE Hotel. The honeyed hues of the brass surface swirl with beautiful patterns, which oxidation will age beautifully with the passage of time.

Elevator | The amber hues of the elevators’ wood finish are further highlighted by yellow skirt lighting. Clever touches like a circular flap to disguise the CCTV camera unit ensure the seamless quality of the interiors. One element Lam Wai Ming’s team lamented they couldn’t redesign for brand consistency was the font used for the elevator directions.

Towel Holder | Lam Wai Ming, principal of Design Systems says their design was governed by three principles: 1) Truth of material 2) The act of ‘folding,’ inspired by origami 3) Geometric transition. “We designed everything in sight in this hotel,” he says. Take the guest room towel holders. Notice the transition of shapes from the folded metal plate to the slim cylindrical rod, to the square metal base. This interaction between geometric shapes occurs abundantly throughout the hotel and Ming dares guests to locate them.

Hook | TUVE’s owners cared just as passionately as the designers to arrive at the most aesthetically pleasing and functional design solutions. To decide where to position this towel hook in the bathroom, for example, the team took numerous photos and used framing and composition techniques to finalize its placement. Note how the hook was created by simply bending each of the three arms, consistent with the design firm’s ‘folding’ principle.

Intercom Panel | The hotel’s intercom panels weren’t spared from Design System’s obsessive eye for tiny aesthetic flourishes. “We wanted to emphasis the beauty of the crevices in the wood,” Ming remarks, “So just as we filled the wall cracks in the rooms with gold, here we melted tin and poured it into the crevices of the panels.”

Entrance Door Handle | The TUVE Hotel entrance’s beautifully sculptural door handle demonstrates the design principle of geometric transition. It starts out as cubic rod growing out of its plate, tapers into a cylinder for guests to take easy hold of, before turning back into a cubic stem.

SILVER Room Tables and Chairs | TUVE’s restaurant, SILVER Room, is as much a theatrical space as the hotel. Ming’s three design principles lord it over the interiors. Notice how square table tops transition to cylinders and terminate in circular bases.

SILVER Room Sculpture | The SILVER Room comes in two different ‘flavors’ as Ming likes to say. During the day, the interiors take on an icy pearlescent look as sunlight floods in. At night, the interiors morph into a warm and dramatic persona, with a sculptural steel tree atop a teak wood pedestal throwing its gnarly shadows in unruly organic contrast to the restrained geometries of the space.

SILVER Room Menu Light | Snaking out and fastened to an adjacent wall outside the restaurant, a burnished brown metal rod shines the light on today’s menu. Situated roughly ten feet above street level on the same wall is a steel number ’16,’ for those who have trouble locating the hotel and restaurant (although they probably would have trouble locating the diminutive address number too).

SILVER Room Toilet | Grand gestures in tiny spaces! Just like TUVE’s dramatic marble powder room, SILVER Room’s toilet is a stone-clad cube whose ceiling tapers three meters up into an oculus. Again, we see geometric transitions at play here, from a cubic to pyramidal volume for the space, and from square to circle for the mirror.


This story supplements the article, Gesamtwerk, in BluPrint Vol. 3, 2017.

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