Project Team

design: Hirsch Bedner Associates


Located in the top third of the 103-storey Guangzhou IFC, the new Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou introduces a new level of personalized service to China’s economic powerhouse city. In ultra-competitive China, where every new hotel views to out-design its neighbour, the Four Seasons Guangzhou is utterly compelling.

In a year when Four Seasons opened hotels in China’s three major cities, Guangzhou trumped Shanghai and Beijing for sheer spectacle. With a lobby on the 70th floor and the rest of the hotel even higher up the vertiginous Guangzhou IFC Tower, there are stunning views of the Pearl River Delta and Canton Tower from all of the bedrooms. The tapering, 34-floor atrium is pure drama, crowned by a skylight that reflects light onto angled glass from each level. The bedrooms are caramel, jade and cranberry coloured and hung with contemporary Chinese ink paintings; the bathrooms are lined with white-veined, light-chocolate marble. An events complex is located on the lower floors at ground level.

Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines (CZ) has operated into Australia for more than 12 years. It now flies twice daily between Sydney and Guangzhou, twice daily from Melbourne, three times a week from Perth and four times a week from Brisbane (increasing to daily flights from November 22). The airline also operates daily Dreamliner services to Auckland (increasing to 10 weekly from December 4). China Southern operates the largest airline fleet in Asia and with more than 86 million passengers carried in 2012 it is the fifth largest carrier in the world.

Global interior design leaders HBA, Hirsch Bedner Associates set out to challenge perceptions of hotel design with the styling of the Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou. Remarkable for both its soaring height and tapering avant‐garde design, the hotel has become a new benchmark for interior design in Asia.

The project is architecturally dramatic for its triangular tower, diagonal lattice and soaring, 30 floor high atrium. HBA’s interior design concept is striking, developed to push the boundaries of design and challenge perceptions of the classic hotel interior.

HBA won an international competition to design the hotel. “It was because we were able to beautifully communicate a visual presentation that upholds the integrity of the Four Seasons brand coupled with innovative design and sensitivity to location,” said Ian Carr, CEO of HBA in Singapore.

Every detail of the hotel’s elegant yet ultramodern interior was meticulously planned and executed to ensure an exceptional guest experience. From the ground floor, guests take dedicated express elevators to the 70th floor lobby, where a dramatic three metre red steel sculpture by Australian artist Matthew Harding appears to float on a sea of watery glass, reflecting the astounding ceiling window 30 floors above.

The incredible naturally lit atrium, surrounded by restaurants and rooms above, is higher than the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and New York’s Statue of Liberty. The intricate textured screen made of woven metal wraps around the interior of the sky high lobby. In a subtle reference to the hotel brand, the screen is themed around the four seasons, from spring in the basement to fall in the upper reaches.

“The artwork extends to edgy, modern Southern Chinese pieces by local artists and continues the theme of the four seasons from spring on the ground floor to winter at the top floor,” said Sandra DeSouza, Director of Canvas, art consultants on the project. For instance, Tian Bar on Level 99, the artwork is pure, white and ethereal in a fitting tribute to the heavens.

Throughout the Hotel, a carefully curated collection of paintings, prints and sculptures by contemporary international artists enhances the sleek modern interiors created by HBA/Hirsch Bedner and Associates.

Highlights include glass sculptures in Yu Yue Heen restaurant by Australian Clare Belfrage; a wood sculpture in Tian Bar by Richard Hutton of the Netherlands; mixed media sculptures by the American team of Jeremy Newman and Allison Ciancibelli in Caffe Mondo; paintings by Korean artist Yun Hee Toh in the Executive Club Lounge; nine sculptures by Yang Don Dong throughout the Hotel; and Lee Man Seng’s unique Chinese seal-inspired timber sculptures in Yu Yue Heen.

A key challenge facing HBA was to match interiors with the complex structural columns featured in all public spaces and the hotel’s 104guest rooms and suites as well as four dining destinations. Each boasts a unique floor plan as a result, with the building narrowing as it rises and columns intersecting at different points. The only constants in HBA’s guest room interiors are the bathrooms and beds, positioned to offer unparalleled views of the Pearl River Delta and cityscape. Floor to ceiling glass windows additionally encourage guests to “look right down.

“This design is naturally inspired by the 103-storey building we were given,” said Mr Carr. “We didn’t want to close up the windows and deny guests the spectacular view.”

Furniture is predominantly modern Italian, with contemporary Chinese art playing off elements of nature and culture. HBA created beautifully customized carpets that are watercolour like and evocative of the skies and clouds.

The interiors of the rooms and suites are naturally lit by floor-to-ceiling windows. On the 97th floor, the sumptuous Presidential Suite’s contemporary look is enhanced by original artworks throughout 253 square metres of living space that includes a central living room and dining area with adjacent butler’s pantry and bedrooms on either side. Just below on the 96th floor, the Royal Suite’s design is inspired by a traditional Chinese palette, also accented by original artworks.

“Everything Four Seasons does is classy – nothing trite or glib,” said Carr.

Embracing this brief, HBA’s objective was to bridge the gap between Four Seasons’ “modern conservatism” style and the building’s avant-garde architecture, with the vast, light filled central atrium contributing to a particularly dramatic effect.

1956 by Tai Ping Carpet

For this project, 1956 by Tai Ping worked with Hirsch Bedner Associates Singapore to complete almost 28,870m2 of carpeted space including corridors, guest rooms, and public areas as well as royal and presidential suites. Products featured include Axminster and Hand-tufted.

Above Left

“Where guests check-­‐in, they can look up and see beautiful patterning spanned across 35 floors of tapering diagonal glass, it’s quite amazing,” said Carr.

This lent itself to creating further patterns of angles and refractive elements in the interior design, from the handrails in the atrium – custom measured for each floor – to a dynamic skylight at the top, with angular black panels. The effect is magnified in interior corridors, with angled glass deliberately projecting outwards to “embrace the height”. Nowhere is this sense of height more intense than from a bridge on Level 100, where a staircase projects into the void and glass floors look down 40 floors below to the lobby.

In addition to Tian Bar, HBA also provided sumptuous interiors for Yu Yue Heen, Caffe Mondo and Kumoi – three of the hotel’s four new dining destinations. Located on Level 71, signature Chinese restaurant Yu Yue Heen deliberately speaks a different design language than the rest of the project, with interiors playing on traditional Chinese calligraphy and carrying the colours of the Red Dragon. In Yu Yue Heen, and throughout the hotel, design marries tradition and innovation to firmly ground interiors in modern China.

“Overall, Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou breaks conventions, coupling luxury with the avant‐garde,” added Carr. “The architect created amazing spaces for us to work with and this building really stands out as a new design icon for both Guangzhou and for the Four Seasons brand.”