PHUKET: As most villa projects in Phuket are individually owned and cater to the requirements of the individual buyer, one sees a plethora of interior designs ranging from very conservative to highly modern. However, those that are influenced by Thai architecture stand in sharp contrast to replicas of European styles.
“Rightly called the Isle of Million Dollar Homes, Phuket has attracted the rich and famous to build and buy resort homes and villas”, said Dr Saeed Zaki, DWP Cityspace Company’s Regional Managing Director.
“While most of the hospitality projects of international brands are designed by big name design firms, individual villas have given an opportunity to talented boutique design firms, and even individual designers in Phuket and Bangkok, to showcase their design skills.”
However, as design is something that constantly evolves, the advent of new technology and availability of more sophisticated design tools have led to a shift toward sleeker yet more complex forms, and even more interesting, technology-integrated designs with increasingly minimalist spaces.
“Use of material also plays an important role as new technology brings about more composite materials that can be used to create forms previously unimaginable,” added Dr Zaki.
While the new designs are fascinating, this well-established Indian architect and urban designer warns that in places like Phuket the most important factor for all home buyers to keep in mind is that the materials and equipment used to build their homes must be able to resist water and air with a high degree of salinity.
“It is advisable to use materials and equipment that are resistant to corrosion. Thus, one finds that in construction near the sea, natural materials such as timber, stone etc. are the prime materials of choice.
“Anything that can corrode easily should be avoided,” he said.
While developers might cut some corners, the astute and successful ones seldom cut the design fee because in paying the full amount buyers not only get a good design, but they are also able to use the design firm’s brand for marketing.
“This makes the buyers more confident of the project and the quality of design and building they will receive.
“In simple terms, the design fee for a mid-size resort costs around 5 per cent, so any saving on that puts at risk 95 per cent of the developers’ investment.”
Dr Zaki, who has been active in the Phuket market for over 20 years, added that successful resorts, especially those developed with commercial factors in mind, need to be designed and built within the established budget to achieve the projected return on investment.
Here again big name design firms have an edge because they have a track record of successfully delivering such projects and have a team of professionals who are well-rounded and experienced, not just in concept design, but in implementation and delivery as well.
Strong design companies are also able to easily survive times of economic difficulty while smaller less well-known firms flounder. Dr Zaki pointed out that in an economic downturn it is in fact the real sector that sinks first because people hold back on investment, and this is also the last to bounce back when the economy is back on track.
“Well-known firms continue to remain sought after even during the tough times and have the ability to survive downturns due to their reputation and quality of work.”
— Nina Suebsukcharoen
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