Kelly Hoppen Wanted To Create Something “That Didn’t Exist In Mauritius”
With over 40 years’ experience in the interiors business, Kelly Hoppen has designed retail and hospitality spaces, private homes, high-end resorts, yachts, aircraft interiors and more. She is also the author of nine books and is an avid collaborator, working on projects with brands ranging from Disney to Lick paints. A recent project in her brimming portfolio, Hoppen, in partnership with the Mauritian architect Jean-Francois Adam, brought her design expertise to the new LUX* Grand Baie—Mauritius’s 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 ahead, when first asked to come onboard the project Hoppen had a particular vision already in mind. “I wanted to create something that didn’t exist in Mauritius, a different experience, a different aesthetic altogether.”
What are some of the trends you’ve incorporated into recent hotel designs? And what are some of the trends you are seeing for the future? I try to avoid “trends.” I want all of my designs to represent my signature style and to have a timeless feel rather than being based on something ephemeral. Naturally, my work has evolved over time, but it has always been about creating that 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 advances over the last 40 years, I think a lot of changes yet to come are inconceivable to us now, but I expect we’ll see a huge push for sustainability: development of new materials and upcycling, alternative practices, and further focus on energy and waste efficiency.
Craft and quality are essential to what you do and you often create bespoke pieces within your designs—can you tell me about a few specific standout pieces? Some of my favourite bespoke pieces include the table in the entranceway to my home. Crafted in lacquer and blown glass, I designed and created it with an incredible local artist named Matt Stanwix. Second to that is the marble sculpture that sits atop the De Gournay plinth in my home, beautifully carved from an original sketch by the British sculptor Paul Vanstone.
With LUX*—you talk about creating spaces with individuality but that also flow together as a whole—how do you do this? What are the challenges? We craft an identity for each project that establishes this feeling of “flow,” maintaining core design principles throughout and ensuring that the palettes, accents, details, and themes all complement each other. I always want guests to feel at one with the space, no matter where they are or what time of day. I also want guests to experience something new with each outing and each stay, delving deeper into the design and discovering new details as they move around.
How do you balance creating something that is both timeless and cutting-edge? There are certain facets of interior design that never go out of style, or always come back around—a neutral colour palette is my go-to base as it’s never going to become jarring or antiquated. Beyond this you’re free to play around with shapes, textures, lighting, form, and one-off vintage pieces. It’s all about striking that balance between classic and contemporary, utilising modern tools and techniques while celebrating traditional, quality craftsmanship and time-tested design features—and ultimately staying true to your design philosophy.
With LUX* you also talk about creating something that didn’t already exist in Mauritius—can you expand on that? We had a remarkable opportunity with this project: not only was LUX* the first new build on the island in 15 years, it is also located on Mauritius’s finest beach—Grand Baie. LUX* represents a new generation of hotels where state-of-the-art features meet timeless simplicity and sophistication.
How has luxury in design changed over the course of your career? There’s been a definite shift from traditional decadence towards finding luxury in simplicity, particularly over the last decade. This doesn’t mean absolute pared-back minimalism; rather, a “less is more” approach, utilising a neutral base palette and clean lines, then building upon this with exceptional, eye-catching pieces, alongside statement accents and finishes. There’s an implicit elegance here, and it leaves room to be adventurous in more thoughtful ways—think patterns, sculptures, textures, fixtures, and metallics.
What do you look for in a project now? What inspires you? One of my mottos when it comes to designing is “Nothing is too big, and nothing is big enough.” I love seeking challenges that will push me and my team, as I believe that’s when the most extraordinary ideas come to light.
What is unique about British design? There’s an abundance of architectural history in Britain, which feeds into the way we approach design. From multi-storey Georgian townhouses to grand Neoclassical buildings to the modern farmhouse style—there is so much scope and each style communicates its own rich backstory.