Hong Kong Designers AB Concept On What Makes The Perfect Spa

Hong Kong design duo Ed Ng and Terence Ngan—otherwise known as AB Concept—have spent two decades designing some of the worlds most beautiful hotels, restaurants and resorts. With clients like Four Seasons Hotels and Mandarin Oriental under their belt, their reputation in luxury hospitality proceeds them.

Their latest design project is Nephele, a collection of luxury carpets with couture luxury carpet makers House of Tai Ping. Inspired by their global jet-setting and the view from above, the carpets show natural and urban landscapes across seasons and locations. We catch up with the pair to chat about the collaboration with Tai Ping, how to design the perfect spa and their upcoming wellness projects.

AB Concept, wellness design
Ed Ng (right) & Terence Ngan (left) | Image courtesy of AB Concept

You’ve designed a lot of luxury hotels and resorts. What makes the perfect spa? Number one, definitely the skill: you can have a beautiful spa, but if you don’t have the skills of the therapists, it doesn’t matter. In terms of the design though, the experience is driven by the flow. It’s the circulation, especially in a city spa. That starts from the moment you check in—we say check-in is the ‘check-out’. The massage table is so important—it’s amazing how some of them you lay on them and you are already in another place. It’s very hard to balance the music, the temperature, the smell, the products, the textures—one thing can take you out of the moment if one thing is off. You become very sensitive to all the stimulations.

How is your design scope affected by attitudes towards sustainability? All of the brands we work with are luxury in nature, and I think its almost a given now that sustainability is a key consideration. It’s all done to a very high standard, from the lighting specifications to the bathroom fittings. A lot of the materials used—things like the type of timber—is chosen by the brand before we even begin. We control the aesthetic, but there’s a team behind us that make sure that everything is done properly and ensure we’re sourcing materials responsibly.

The W Hotel Xi’an | Image courtesy of W Hotels

Tell us about the Tai Ping carpet collection, Nephele. The collaboration was proposed before we had the idea. I (Ed) was on my way to the meeting with Tai Ping, trying to think of ideas we could suggest—I was flying, looking down at the view from above… and that’s when it came to us. We took inspiration from culture, and nature, and made these four landscapes. We thought designing carpets would only take a month or two, but it took a year.

Do you have a favourite? No. But I do really like the one inspired by the city. It’s a poetic interpretation of a city. We purposely made it abstract so it’s not a particular place—everyone sees where they want to. It’s an art piece to encourage the imagination.

‘Polis’, the cityscape | Image courtesy of House of Tai Ping

You’ve worked with a lot of big brands. Who would you like to work with who you haven’t yet? Definitely Aman. They are very particular. It would be a really interesting brand to work with.

What projects are you working on currently? We’ve just finished work on the W Xi’an, and currently, we’re working on the W Hotel in the Algarve, which has involved a lot of wellness considerations: we design the gyms, the spa, all the rooms, the public areas, everything. 

Another project we’ve just begun is with KHOS for Rosewood, their new brand: it’s the younger, more energetic line of their brand. It will have a brand new concept. I can’t say too much yet, just—it won’t be traditional. It’s a contemporary lifestyle brand.

Rebecca Cairns

Editor & CCO

Hong Kong-based Rebecca Cairns is the editor for Compare Retreats, and has formerly written on travel and wellness with Hong Kong Tatler and The Culture Trip. As a NASM-certified personal trainer, Becca is interested in all things fitness. An avid runner, she enjoys running 5K, 10K and 21K races and is currently training for her first marathon. When she's not travelling, she's planning her next trip, taking hikes to the beach or scribbling away in boutique coffee shops. You can follow her travels on Instagram @jetsetcreate.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.