Hotel fanatic whose designs are inspired at 30,000ft high

Born and raised in Hawaii and of Japanese and Hawaiian ancestry, Clint Nagata is a fanatic about hotels and resorts. 
courtesy of Blink Design

Blink Design Co-CEO Clint Nagata

Who is he?

Born and raised in Hawaii and of Japanese and Hawaiian ancestry, Clint Nagata is a fanatic about hotels and resorts. Having moved halfway around the world to Bangkok where he started BLINK Design Group, he is always on a plane and fascinated to learn about new things, people and places. With its designs, BLINK is always driven by a strong conceptual storyline he feels fortunate to be in a business that is focused of creating luxury hospitality experiences.

What are some of your projects? And what is the one you are most proud of?

We’ve been very fortunate to collaborate on such creative projects as The Setai and The Nam Hai. Some of the projects we are currently working on are a Raffles in the Maldives, a Kempinski in Kuala Lumpur and the Capella Shanghai Jian Ye Li. It’s a great example of creating a hotel that effortlessly reflects its location, the owner and the brand. I also have a personal connection to this project, as it was started under the late designer Jaya Ibrahim, who was a good friend. I am honored to finish his vision. This is one of the projects I am most fond of. 

What projects are you involved in?

I’m excited to be working on several Mandarin Oriental, Ritz Carlton and Alila properties. Our projects are scattered throughout Asia, and as far east as Costa Rica and as far west as Europe. 

Describe your design style.

Refined. Balanced. Modern. Tailored. These are the traits that have been used to describe our design style. Our first step in the design process is to create a storyline that serves as the concept for the project. It is essential that the storyline reflects the operator and the hotel brand and most importantly the site. While this serves as the backbone on which we base all of our ideas, each brief is different and no two projects are alike. 

Where are you most creative?

I’m not sure if there is only one place. I get inspiration from a variety of sources. Having been fortunate enough to travel the world as much as I have certainly inspired me to be creative. But perhaps I am the most creative at 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) in the air. Since I spend most of my time traveling between our studios, meeting clients or looking at new sites, I find inspiration in being able to focus and work on designs while not being disturbed by emails, messages or phone calls.  

What does your home mean to you?

To me, home is where my story begins. It is where I grew up and it is where my sense of style and appreciation for simple natural beauty comes from. Although I may have physically left home more than 11 years ago, I still carry my beliefs with me that make me who I am today.

What do you collect?

I’m not sure you could say I collect anything physical. If anything, I’ve learned to collect experiences and memories. I have fond memories of being mentored by Donald Goo (the G of WATG). I recall being awed by his approach to the business of design and being able to win a tough crowd over.

Where do you like to go most in Shanghai? 

I love experiencing new spaces whether it’s a restaurant, bar or hotel. Aside from our new Capella Shanghai, there are a number of other exciting hotels opening relatively soon and I’m looking forward to learning from what other firms have done.  

What is the next big design trend?

I believe the next big design trend will be creating spaces that are much more personal. I think hotels will become more like homes. Having spent the last week in Europe, it’s evident that the new luxury means less keys and more personalization. Gone are the days of large lobby lounges, oversized all-day dining outlets and guest rooms with designs that have obviously been driven by corporate standards. We will soon see large lounges replaced by strong F&B revenue-driven spaces, chef-driven restaurants focused on lunch and dinner, as well as culinary experiences and guest rooms that feel more like residences. 

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