Educated in Belgium, Jean-Michel Gathy founded DENNISTON in Malaysia in 1983. The practice is a niche architectural and design company, and one of the world’s leading hospitality design firms. DENNISTON has a fine pedigree and has designed some of the most renowned luxury hotels, interiors and landscapes in the world.
Today, DENNISTON is actively working on 40 hotel projects and developments, including master planning a project of 100 square kilometres north of California’s Napa Valley, Amaala Island in Saudi Arabia, Aman New York, Aman Miami, Cheval Blanc Seychelles, Oberoi Mumbai, One and Only Dubai, and Janu Tokyo, among many others. And if there is a signature style for DENNISTON, it is East meets West, infusing the diverse elements subtly into a contrasting setting.
There has been a long-term collaboration with the Aman brand of resorts and hotels that began in 1989. With the success of a single project in Indonesia came a string of other commissions that collectively shaped the portfolio now attached to DENNISTON. Jean-Michel commented, ”Whether a resort is on a deliciously remote island or a hotel in the middle of a bustling city, I am a firm believer in interpreting the brand’s DNA accurately, in context. As a designer, you must be adaptive in nature and sensitive to change.”
Jean-Michel understands the nature of designing a hotel. He emphasises that, “When you design a hotel, you are conceptualising a business for someone to run. The hotel has to work functionally so it has to makes sense from a physical design standpoint” and, “I think the fundamental role of architects and designers is first to serve a client as we are ultimately in a service industry and regardless of geolocation, whether in Miami or Tibet for example, clients want their product to be financially successful.”
Over the decades that Jean-Michel has been designing outstanding projects, the practice creates not only the destination but the traveller’s perception. An example of this is the Chedi Muscat that gained an international following among travellers in the 2000s and today, still remains the benchmark for a quiet luxury destination.
In talking about his work and that of the practice Jean-Michel explains, “We have developed an unprecedented history in design of continuously remaining ahead of ever-changing aesthetics and consumer expectations” and to prove this the commissions are ever on-going.
Photography: Denniston, Cheval Blanc, LVMH / DENNISTON, Four Seasons