Bill Reed, vice president, has over 25 years of architectural design and hospitality experience. Since joining WATG in 1984, Bill has directed numerous high-profile projects, including Ayana Resort and Spa in Bali; Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California; Al Badia Golf Clubhouse by InterContinental at Dubai Festival City; Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa in Oman; Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa; and, The Ritz-Carlton in Palm Beach, Florida. More recently, he has been working on The Renaissance Boao in China; Kemang Residences in West Java, Indonesia; and Project: Journey, a beachfront hotel in Palawan, Philippines.
You started in WATG in Irvine, worked in WATG's London office for two years, moved to the Seattle office in 2006, and recently announced your intention to relocate to Singapore. What prompted that decision?
I have always enjoyed an adventure and a challenge. WATG has offered that opportunity in the form of "going where the action is;" Asia is where it's at now and for the foreseeable future. I'm excited to become more immersed in the region and its diverse cultures.
What do you hope to learn and achieve while working in Singapore?
I am thrilled about the opportunity to collaborate with a very international team in our Singapore studios: a mixture of familiar WATG friends, my colleagues from Seattle, and talented designers whom I look forward to learning from. There will be an infusion of creativity and energy as we challenge one another in our designs and delivery. At 54, I have the confidence to work with more freedom of expression while creating mature and lasting designs. Each of my prior relocations has contributed to me evolving as a professional, mentoring and inspiring young talent, while helping liberate our designers in realizing their visions.
Do Asian travelers and/or clients have distinctive likes and dislikes that influence your design? How?
Always. Whether domestic, international; old money, or new; it is those Asian travelers, their tastes and expectations we are ultimately designing for. In our market-led designs, clients understand this and everyone's ego can take a back seat.
In the best working relationships, we listen and lead with the room for everyone to question and challenge assumptions. We learn from our clients as they learn from us, and the mixture of East and West can offer an exciting, timeless solution in the context of the region and the global community.
What trends do you see emerging that will influence the shape of hospitality design over the next few years?
Forecasting and identification of trends has been well documented throughout each year. Several trends which interest me most are;
1. The growth of outbound Chinese Travelers, and the brands' ability to capture their market share.
2. Cultural Immersion: As one who seeks this out in my own travels, I would like to see this become ubiquitous across cultures and brands.
3. Authenticity: WATG is all about authenticity. As we have ventured into emergent nations and new destinations, we are faced with generational differences much like the United States experienced during its post WWII economic growth. We still work with those clients and governments who want what the rest of the world has, including the most ostentatious displays. However, it is fantastic to meet and work with a growing number of those developers who value their own heritage and are seeking a more regional and authentic design. WATG has long drawn inspiration from a project's location and its history, creating a living architecture which is design-forward while honoring its place of origin.
Do you have any hobbies that inspire you and/or influence your work?
I enjoy travelling to different areas of the world, striving to understanding the appeal of diverse environments through my own use and the observation of others. I enjoy reading about the history of a place, or even a novel which is set in the area; visiting historic sites and local markets; and finding the best examples of local foods. I eat everything and enjoy learning how to cook the foods of a region as well--I'm an excellent cook!
What lifts your spirit?
Being immersed in dichotomy of a vibrant, messy city juxtaposed with pristine wilderness is really exhilarating for me. Yoga is a practice which I have come to enjoy in recent years. It gives me a sense of being centered as well as improves my flexibility!