Meet the designers behind some of the world's most beautiful hotels

Francesca Street, CNNPublished 3rd December 2018
(CNN) — The dazzling mosaic-bar of Bar Trigona at the Four Seasons Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, the Italian-chic, cinema-themed Paper Moon Giardino restaurant in Milan, the beach resort chic of the Rosewood Sanya in China.
They're all the work of a Hong Kong duo, interior designer Ed Ng and architect Terence Ngan, who founded their business AB Concept 20 years ago and have forged a career creating some of the swankiest hotel spaces around the globe
To celebrate two decades of work, the pair's greatest hits have been compiled into a new book, "AB Concept: A cultural journey through light, form and space," published by Assouline.

Common aesthetics

Matteo-Imbriani
Paper Moon Giardino, Milan, Italy is a Milanese restaurant has been serving classic Italian food for 40 years. AB Concept redecorated the space for the 40th anniversary.
Courtesy Matteo Imbriani
Ng tells CNN Travel his work with Ngan began two decades ago, as students in Hong Kong, when they were introduced through a mutual friend.
"We realized we see a lot of things in common," Ng says. "We have common aesthetics."
They were both keen to have their own businesses and decided to partner up.
Since then, their inimitable style has transformed bars and restaurants at Four Seasons, Rosewood, Mandarin Oriental and Shangri-La hotels worldwide.
9-©-Owen-Raggett
Rosewood Sanya, Sanya, China, pictured is an opulent resort envisaged as a grand but informal beach house.
Courtesy Owen Raggett
They've worked on private residences too, but Ng says that creating hotels is a particularly dynamic experience.
"It's something very culturally specific [...] It will also bring you the opportunity to go to many different countries to work on very unique projects, destinations and to interact with the local team," he says.
Ng says he often finds himself designing a hotel in a location he's never visited before.
"In the end you actually have a hotel, you have a presence there that will last for maybe another few decades. I think that is something quite unique, but also quite a challenge."

Creative collaboration

8-©-Owen-Ragget
Mei Ume in the Four Seasons Hotel London, London, UK is a sushi fusion restaurant and the duo's first project in London.
Courtesy Owen Ragget
Restaurants are also stimulating projects for AB Concept. In London, the agency's stylish touch can be seen in the marble pillars and blossom-accented interiors of Mei Ume, in the Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square in London.
This sushi fushion spot was AB Concept's first project in the British capital.
Restaurants are collaborative projects, which is why they're particularly appealing to the design duo.
"In most of the cases, I mean almost in all cases, a great chef is a very creative, another creative mind. So you always find some very interesting chemistry with them," says Ng.
3-©-Owen-Raggett
Yun House in the Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is a stylish restaurant nodding to Malaysia's interpretation of Chinese tea culture.
Courtesy Owen Raggett
When creating a design for a restaurant, there are specific considerations at play.
"The culture, the building itself, all the food concepts," Ng adds.
Those references, however, are always filtered through AB Concept's particular point of view.
"People are looking for us to design a space, to take leaps as the spatial designer," says Ng.
"I always explain that we are here not to tell my story, but I am telling the story of that restaurant, telling the story of that hotel, just through my aesthetics."

Future plans

Next up, AB Concept is heading to Portugal to work on the upcoming W Hotel in the Algarve -- but first, the book will come out in time for the 20th anniversary and Ng has been recalling all the spaces the duo have designed.
"We quite enjoyed this journey," he says. "I know the book is called 'A cultural journey,' but even creating the book itself is kind of an interesting journey for a designer -- to consolidate 20 years of your work."