With a hive-mind of design talent and visionary concepts the “out-of-the-box” design brand readies to reinvent spaces throughout the region.
BANGKOK, THAILAND: What do you get when you cross a game-changing property developer with one of the most seminal names in design and a gang of visionary architects, curators, celebrity style icons and interior design sages? YOO already know the answer.
Now the brand, which is just as well known for its show-stopping ensemble as it is its enviably unique property developments and interior designs, is setting up shop in Southeast Asia.
YOO Worldwide recently announced that Bangkok will be the base for its regional HQ and has already confirmed the appointment of key executives – supported by a stable of creative directors - to propel its residential design and hotel franchise business forward.
Central to YOO’s approach is a bold vision to rethink and reimagine spaces through the concept of “Placemaking”, which considers the entire environment, space and community rather than just the box in a residence or hotel. This is also the first time the YOO brand will be available for design of private commissions, houses, bars, restaurants, show apartments, social enterprises and co-working spaces.
The UK-based company was created at the turn of the 21stcentury by radical real estate developer John Hitchcox and international design legend Philippe Starck with a mission to enrich lives through extraordinary living spaces. Focusing on places and spaces, YOO is now the largest pure residential design brand in the world, with 81 projects in 40 countries.
Harnessing the creative flair of contemporary designers like Marcel Wanders, Jade Jagger, Steve Leung and Sussanne Khan, complimented by the young global talents in YOO’s Design Studio, YOO transforms buildings into aspirational and inspirational living spaces, delivering holistic design, branding and operations to developers across seven continents.
The team is now turning its attentions to Southeast Asia, tapping into, amongst other trends, the soaring demand for high-end branded residences. With more than 25 percent of the world’s “under-construction” real developments based in Asia Pacific, it’s been a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’, YOO would expand eastward.
“We see huge opportunities for growth in Asia. We really feel the market is ready for our unique brand of design. We challenge, innovate, disrupt and bend rules – allowing our clients’ projects to stand out, adding greater visibility and value to their developments. We’re about ‘the space’ - inside and out - and this is what drives YOO’s design,” explains James Snelgar, Partner & Head of Business Development, YOO Worldwide.
Driving the company’s regional expansion strategy is Rich Millar, YOO Worldwide’s Vice President of Business Development - Asia Pacific, and Justin Dunne, F&B Concept Curator for YOO Hotels & Resorts. Titans in their respective fields, Millar and Dunne will bring their complimentary brands of creative talent and expertise to YOO’s Southeast Asian office.
YOO’s regional headquarters are in Bangkok where its Asia-partner for hotel operations ONYX Hospitality Group is based. In late 2017, YOO and ONYX launched a duo of distinctive hotel brands, YOO Collection and Yoo2, with the first Yoo2 hotel due to launch in Phuket in 2020.
Khun by Yoo, inspired by Philippe Starck, developed by Sansiri will also transfer later this year – and currently sets the highest per square metre price on Thonglor. Other notable Asia projects include 8 Conlay in Kuala Lumpur and a number of multi award-winning residential and hospitality projects in Hong Kong including Mira Moon.
“We are not entirely new to the region, but we are looking to shake things up a bit and grow through our new presence in the region,” says Snelgar. “Our designers will work with leading development companies to bring their visions to life and we will nurture creative talent in Bangkok to build a new team of designers based here,” he added.
Branded residences are among the hospitality industry’s fastest-growing sectors, and YOO is at its forefront with 13 percent of the world’s total portfolio. Fun, rebellious and innovative, YOO is disrupting traditional hotel and residence brands and attracting Asia’s emerging generation of high-net-worth millennial buyers to its designed “spaces”.
As Asia’s affluent young investors demand greater personalisation, they increasingly want bespoke living spaces to complement their designer clothes, cars and gadgets.
“We don’t believe in residences or hotel rooms,” adds Snelgar. “We believe in spaces.”