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Q&A – Anna Goh, DBI

Over many years, Anna and the team at DBI have created an impressive folio of beautiful residential, commercial and hospitality projects across Australia, Asia, the Middle East and beyond. In her work she is driven by innovation, human experience and meaningful, sustainable design. Here, Anna chats to us about inspiration, differentiation and influences:

Q: More emphasis is being placed on authenticity, locality and human experiences in design. How do you approach these values in your work?

A: The human experience is at the core of our practice as a fundamental principle in space planning, design and thoughtful detail resolution – when we consider what makes a place memorable – we recollect of how we interacted with the spaces, how they flowed and how we felt whilst there. An emotive response is vivid, honest, true. In a time where spaces are consumed via instantaneous social media content, true connections are elusive and fleeting, hence more rare and therefore most important.

Q: With so many new brands moving into Australia, how do hotels differentiate themselves in this very competitive space?

A: Hotels have identified the vast variety of drivers for guest travel and accommodation requirements; ranging from leisure and the variety of destination leisure travelers: young world explorers and uber luxury connoisseurs, lighthearted family group travelers; to business and task orientated travelers. In each sector there is a need for an offer as individual as our communities’ needs require. In a sense, each hotel group is vying to engage with a broad community, and to satisfy each group with a more diverse hotel offering, sub brands are crafting and imagining propositions which are closer aligned to meet the guest expectation.

Q: What makes a good interior design brief?

A: A strong brand identity is a great start to a successful design brief. As designers, we are collaborators and the design process is a vehicle for the owners’ aspiration for their property, combined with their partner hotel brand, in realization of the projects potential. We understand that the owners are dreaming of everything their future project could be, their way of communicating their dream is the brief.

Q: Out of the many projects you have brought to life, which one seemed challenging at first but proved to be the most successful in the end and why?

A: So far, the most challenging and most successful projects have been Etihad Towers and The Oracle. Both very different in design and geographical location, however with a common denominator: a client who is strongly connected to the design outcome, is rigorous and ambitious.

Q: Residing in the northern part of Australia, does nature, climate and your personal surroundings inspire your work?

A: I definitely note the climatic condition of our studio plays a part into how we respond to a design brief, planning process and selecting materials and soft furnishings. Whenever I travel to a different climate, be it colder or more arid, I am struck by different responses which either consciously or subconsciously address ambient conditions. It’s the reason why there’s a strong synergy between our design approach to a practice in Brazil, South Africa or Miami. They are dealing with climatically similar conditions and there are a lot of great outcomes that come from reaching out and connecting with this amazing climate and pristine environment. There’s no greater example of that than Hayman Island Resort – the pristine setting means that our task is not to detract, but to enhance and support the guest experience to maximize their engagement with a unique destination.

Q: You have specified us in many of your projects. What do you like about working with apaiser?

A: apaiser understands the demands of a commercial environment, a working hotel where a bathroom is a leisure space, a visionary enticement and a hard working functional component which is integral to the success of the guest experience. At home or away from home we all rely on this zone to support us, be beautiful and robust to enhance our everyday. apaiser is able to satisfy our requirements aesthetically, as well as commercially by offering a product which is unique, well resolved, functional, hard wearing with an eco-conscious, but most importantly, enduringly beautiful.