Kelly Hoppen wanted to create something “that didn’t exist in Mauritius”

With over 40 years of experience in the interior industry, Kelly Hoppen has designed retail and hospitality spaces, private homes, high-end resorts, yachts, aircraft interiors and more. She’s also authored nine books and is a passionate collaborator, working on projects with brands ranging from Disney to Lick Paints. A recent project in its overflowing portfolio, Hoppen, in partnership with Mauritian architect Jean-François Adam, has brought its design expertise to the new LUX* Grand Baie, Mauritius’ first new build in 15 years. A total of 116 suites, villas and residences, Hoppen has overseen every element of the property. And always looking to the future, when he was first asked to participate in the project, Hoppen already had a particular vision in mind. “I wanted to create something that didn’t exist in Mauritius, a different experience, a completely different aesthetic.”

What are some of the trends you have incorporated into recent hotel design? And what are some of the trends you see for the future? I try to avoid “trends”. I want all of my designs to represent my signature style and have a timeless feel rather than being based on something fleeting. Naturally, my work has evolved over time, but it’s always been about creating this extraordinary experience and offering something you won’t find anywhere else.

That being said, advances in technology have definitely changed the way we look at hotel design – the guest experience has become increasingly seamless, with everything available at the touch of a button. Given the progress made over the past 40 years, I think many changes are inconceivable to us now, but I expect we will see a huge push for sustainability: development of new materials and recycling, alternative practices and increased focus on energy and waste efficiency.

Craftsmanship and quality are essential to what you do and you often create bespoke pieces in your designs. Can you tell me about a few specific pieces that stand out? Some of my favorite custom pieces include the table in the entryway to my house. Made of lacquer and blown glass, I designed and created it with an amazing local artist named Matt Stanwix. Next is the marble sculpture that sits atop the De Gournay plinth in my home, beautifully sculpted from an original sketch by British sculptor Paul Vanstone.

With LUX* – you talk about creating spaces with individuality but also flowing as a whole – how do you do that? What are the challenges? We create an identity for each project that establishes that sense of “flow”, maintaining core design principles throughout and ensuring that palettes, accents, details and themes complement each other. I always want clients to feel in tune with the space, no matter where they are or what time of day. I also want guests to experience something new with every outing and stay, digging deeper into the design and discovering new details as they go.

How do you balance creating something that is both timeless and cutting-edge at the same time? There are certain facets of interior design that never go out of style or always come back – a neutral color palette is my go-to base because it will never go jarring or outdated. Beyond that, you are free to play around with shapes, textures, lighting, shape, and unique vintage pieces. It’s about striking that balance between classic and contemporary, using modern tools and techniques while celebrating quality traditional craftsmanship and time-tested design features, and staying true to your design ethos.

With LUX*, you are also talking about creating something that did not yet exist in Mauritius, can you develop? We had a remarkable opportunity with this project: not only was LUX* the first new construction on the island in 15 years, but it is also located on the most beautiful beach in Mauritius, Grand Baie. LUX* represents a new generation of hotels where cutting-edge features meet timeless simplicity and sophistication.

How has luxury in design evolved during your career? There has been a definite shift from traditional decadence towards the pursuit of luxury in simplicity, particularly in the last decade. That doesn’t mean absolute pared-down minimalism; rather, a “less is more” approach, using a basic neutral palette and clean lines, then building on that with standout, eye-catching pieces, alongside accents and finishes. There’s an implicit elegance here, and it leaves room for adventure in more thoughtful ways – think patterns, carvings, textures, fixtures and metals.

What are you looking for in a project now? What inspires you? One of my design mottos is “Nothing is too big and nothing is big enough”. I love looking for challenges that will push me and my team, because I believe that’s where the most extraordinary ideas are born.

What makes British design unique? There is an abundance of architectural history in Britain, which informs the way we approach design. From multi-storey Georgian townhouses to grand neoclassical buildings to modern farmhouse style, there are so many possibilities and each style communicates its own rich history.

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