An overview of the design ethos at Luxury Frontiers in an interview with Graeme Labe, Founder, Principal and Managing Director.
The principles of biophilia are often quoted when referring to bringing nature into design in the built environment, to the point that it has become quite generic. At Luxury Frontiers and for the founder, Principal and Managing Director Graeme Labe it is the alignment of our innate desire and need for nature that drives the design ethos of the company.
Site Exploration in the Jebal Jai Mountains, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
“Our projects are immersive from inception to finish. Walking a site before we plan or design anything, absorbing the landscape, the trees, the people, the use of materials forms a physical and mental understanding of place and people.” This respect and curiosity for nature and culture is the starting point for all Luxury Frontiers projects and is carried through in every step of the process. Entering into extraordinary locations with an open-ness to what the specific environment offers and and combining it with the specialized knowledge and experience of what works developed over many years has resulted in award winning destinations and ongoing projects on 5 continents.
Site exploration of the beach for Naviva, a Four Seasons Resort at Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico and the pod of the endemic and sacred Ceiba tree found on site. The Spa Pods for the resort were inspired by the tough, protective outer shell and the softly woven protective interior of this pod.
Starting with the landscape, with nature, and then infusing architecture into the particular specifics of a site to ultimately connect people with the restorative power of a place is the role of the design. “At its core that is biophilic design, it can’t be added-on or placed. It has to be informed and originate from the location.” says Graeme. For the Luxury Frontiers teams exploration and observation of local wisdom that may have evolved over long time frames is important.
Wilderness DumaTau is a small, luxury tented camp situated close to the source of the Savute Channel in Botswana. When refurbishing the original camp and building a smaller camp called Little DumaTau the team drew inspiration from the name 'DumaTau' meaning 'roar of the lion,' They looked towards a lion's love for lazing in the shade for inspiration. Expansive shaded decks fitted with plunge pools were added to the units to reduce the heat gain from the large surface of water of the lagoon. This created space for guests to relax comfortably throughout the day, almost swimming and lounging on the edge of the lagoon. To further increase the connection to nature and thermal comfort for guests, the upgraded tents front and back walls are made up of transparent mesh that allows natural cooling and protection from insects while opening up the views and access to the outdoors. As the camp is entirely off grid with solar panels this use of passive ventilation reduces the need for air-conditioning units and honours the local wisdom of working with shade and the movement of air to create comfort.
Images: Teagan Cunniffe
The term biophilic design is a current trend as the curve in travel sees a growth for people seeking connection with nature and experiences in remote locations and diverse cultures. For Graeme, it is an ages-old principle that is at its core part of our structure as human beings. “As we evolve and grow we return to what provides us with meaning and wonder, the opportunity to experience the ‘real’ is for me the definition of luxury.”
As the company is a full service offering the principles of designing with nature inform every aspect of delivery. From strategic advisory to architecture, interiors, design and build, each project is carefully considered to ensure out-of-the-ordinary results. For the Four Seasons Regional Vice President and General Manager of Naviva this makes Luxury Frontiers unique.
“[Luxury Frontiers] have such a reverence for the culture and the people who live where they build. Luxury Frontiers has a biophilic approach to design and such respect for the environment. Every aspect, from the materials used in construction to the beautifully appointed furnishings and accents all show such spirit.” – John O’Sullivan, Four Seasons Regional VP and Naviva GM
Graeme Labe mapping a project during an exploratory site visit to Guanacaste, Costa Rica.