part three of our tastemakers series: an interview with loh lik peng
Loh Lik Peng, founder and director of Unlisted Collection.
How do you approach each new creative project?
Actually I don’t really have a rule book for projects as such. I treat each one as unique and one off. So all our hotels and restaurants are totally different. We use different designers and creative partners for all our projects so that they each have a distinctive identity. I think the only commonality is that all our hotels are located in conserved buildings. As a group we are uniquely committed to heritage sites and buildings.
What catches your attention in terms of fashion, design and interiors?
Fashion for me is all about quality, classics and comfort. So for shoes it’s always TOD’S, for example. Design is special in that I collect many chairs that almost always mid-century and uniquely designed. I also collect a lot of antique/vintage advertising; and again, it’s all about the classics and the quality.
How did you hone your sense of style?
During all of my adult life, my love of design and classics has remained constant. I think my style might have matured in that I prefer to collect items that I can actually use daily, but apart from that, I think it hasn’t changed that much. It does reflect my personality I believe.
Your personal interpretation of luxury?
It’s a mixture of emotions and reactions. For me, luxury must encompass a feeling of lasting value rather than fleeting pleasure. So perhaps it’s about not so much a nice hotel room filled with expensive things but perhaps the location of the hotel that makes something truly luxurious. It’s the same with buying things. Buying a nice shirt will give you pleasure for two or three days at most. But, buying a vintage mid-century classic gives me more pleasure for many years to come.
Your most challenging project?
I would say the development of The Town Hall Hotel in London and The Old Clare in Sydney were my most difficult projects. They were just very complex restoration and repurposing projects. I think in terms of completing these types of projects, a deep reserve of determination and a certain amount of pig headedness is required. I think however that these very difficult projects are the ones that ultimately are the most rewarding.
Your five inspirations:
TOD’S is, for me, the ultimate in footwear. I go everywhere in them and they are always comfortable and reliable.
A long-time favourite restaurant is Barrafina in London. I’m never disappointed by a meal there.
For hotels, it has to be the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California. It’s the world’s most romantic hotel.
For airlines it has to be Singapore Airlines . It’s still a great way to fly!
Finally technology: I love my Samsung smartphones. I have used them for probably the last six or seven years. They are always reliable and user friendly. I currently use a Note 5, and it’s the best phone I have ever had.
What’s next for luxury?
I think it’s all about authenticity today. I don’t think luxury brands can survive without emphasising their heritage and values and seeing their products truly based on this. It’s not about more bling and plastering their brand logos everywhere. Craftsmanship, quality and artisanal skills never go out of fashion because these are things we want to possess not for this season but for handing over to our children and grandchildren. I am a big believer in this.