AHEAD Asia 2023

2023 Judging

The judging panel for AHEAD Asia - comprising architects, interior designers, hoteliers and industry commentators - follows a carefully developed judging process to ensure a rigorous and balanced approach, with the criteria for success based not only on creative excellence guest experience but commercial viability.


Adrian Battisby

Partner, Senior Director of Interior Design - LW Design

Adrian leads the Interior division overseeing both Dubai and Hong Kong studios. He is a creative innovator and leader in design, sensitive to the client and project needs, Adrian’s expertise in spatial design hallmarks drama with contemporary elegance.

Adrian’s numerous accolades include AHEAD, ID and CID. His creative thinking and process combines practical business sense, ingenious planning and original storytelling, active in the design community, Adrian has contributed on the jury for AHEAD MEA, and World Interiors News London, he is a confident speaker within the design community he participated in design thought leadership discussions at Hi Design, HOFEX and Downtown Design.

Alvaro Paredes

Principal / Design Director - DesignLab

Partner at DesignLab, Alvaro Paredes began his career in his native Spain and London before moving to Asia to work with a prestigious hospitality design firm. With nearly 15 years of design expertise in residential and hospitality projects, he has cultivated a flexible style, combined with an interest in the local culture and architecture of the different countries where DesignLab is working. His portfolio includes prestigious brands such as Aman Resorts, Park Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental in different locations as varied as Europe, Asia and Middle East.

Billie Khoo (Chair)

Senior Design & Projects Director, Architecture, Design & Construction, APAC excluding China - Hilton Worldwide

Billie Khoo is the Senior Design & Project Direct for Hilton Architecture, Design & Construction (AD&C), APACx It is a diverse region that spans North Asia, Southeast Asia, Australasia, Pacific Islands and the South-Asia subcontinent.

Educated in Singapore and a trained architect with a Master of Architecture, Billie has worked with established regional and international hospitality design firms such as SCDA, Maps Design and Wilson Associates during her career of 21 years. She has wide-ranging experience in both masterplanning, architectural and interior design aspects of hospitality creation.

Billie and her team are responsible for design overview of all Hilton’s 18 brands in the APAC for both pipeline projects and capital expenditure projects. This involves ensuring that the hotels and resorts achieve their brand equity and are relevant to the markets. It also includes a constant review of brand standards and designs for the regions and to have the finger on the pulse of the hotel developments and hospitality trends in globally.

Since joining Hilton in 2012, Billie has worked with the AD&C team to deliver successful openings and property rejuvenation across all brands, and she continues to be intimately involved in flagship hotels in gateway cities. Some of the hotels include market-leading ones such as such as Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, Conrad Osaka, Roku Kyoto and Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. She is currently working on Waldorf Astoria Tokyo Nihonbashi, Waldorf Astoria Osaka and Waldorf Astoria Jakarta which will be the next flagship properties for Hilton Worldwide.

Being in a region of high growth in the travel industry, Billie is also involved in Development for the technical review of new opportunities in the constant drive to grow the number of new hotels and rooms with an operator that has one of the largest pipeline in the world.

Chris Godfrey


Chris Godfrey is an award-winning Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Chartered Architect, with over 22 years’ experience producing highly considered and finely crafted designs. Educated at the Glasgow School of Art, Chris set up his first design studio at age 29, Scape Architects, which achieved international acclaim. In 2014, Chris went onto establish HBA Residential in London, a boutique division of Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) before his appointment as CEO of the HBA Group in 2022.

Chris leads 25 HBA offices worldwide. He continues to apply his principles throughout the firm in cultivating a holistic design approach and retains a passion for the education of the next generation of designers, having lectured in Interior and Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Art in London and Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore.

David Hodkinson

Design Director - Studio Noor

Design Director and one of the two founders of the studio, David is an award-winning architect and interior designer, with over 22 years of experience.

British born David received his Master’s in Architecture and Interior Design from the Royal College of Art in London prior to setting up Studio Noor at age 26.

David is a focused, passionate designer who brings a fresh design eye to each and every project. His continual interest to explore new materials, design narratives and a more bespoke design language has resulted in successful projects with well know hoteliers and operators such as Adrian Zecha, Aqua Expeditions, Raffles, Saltbae, One & Only, Design Hotels amongst others.

Together with his business partner Luc Lejeune, David has taken Studio Noor from a local Vietnam dimension to all corners of the world, with their signature tailor-made hospitality projects.

Jeff Kaeonil

Senior Principal & Design Principal - HOK

Jeff has built an international portfolio of significant projects in his 25-year practice in architecture and design. His comprehensive experience includes a multitude of architecture projects for corporate, municipal, institutional, industrial and hospitality clients. As Design Principal, Jeff oversees the design of HOK projects in the Asia Pacific region. He leads multidisciplinary teams through the design process and successfully deliver projects to clients. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from University of California, Berkeley, and Masters of Architecture from Harvard University in the United States

Jon Kastl

Vice President, Interior Design - Marina Bay Sands

Jon Kastl, LEED AP, brings to his role of Vice President of Interior Design at Marina Bay Sands, over 25 years of experience in hospitality, restaurant and residential design. Since joining MBS in 2020, Jon has been focused on the repositioning of the integrated resort through the implementation of the Las Vegas Sands corporate initiative of “Design Excellence”. Additionally, Jon is engaged on the design and development of Marina Bay Sands expansion plans in Singapore.

Prior to joining MBS in 2020, Jon was a Partner and Studio Director with Champalimaud Design where he worked on several signature projects including the historic renovation of Raffles Singapore, the relaunch of the iconic Hotel Bel Air, Los Angeles, and the Halekulani Okinawa.

Jon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Cincinnati’s acclaimed College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

Karen Hay

Founder & Creative Director - IN-dulge

With 25 years of solid design experience in the design industry, covering UK, Asia and the Middle East, Karen was formerly the co-founder and Director of Stickman Tribe Ltd, a Dubai and Hong Kong based design firm. In 2016 she established her own design clan IN-dulge in Hong Kong, with a cutting edge focus on luxury Interiors for Hospitality, working with many of the world’s leading hospitality and leisure hotels and resorts.

Harnessing her Scottish heritage, international experience, entrepreneurial spark and keen sense of sustainability, combined with a few years working in a reparatory theatre designing, building and painting sets. Today, she remains hands on and her theatrical story-telling flair certainly shines through her projects.

Recognised for her successful, and award winning projects Karen is regularly invited as a guest speaker at industry conferences throughout Asia, including talks to several of the hotels’ operation teams on F&B trends and strategies.

Michael Wang

Managing Director & Chief Design Officer - Apara Hotel Design & Project Management Group

Michael is leading the Apara Hotel Design and Project Management Group with field experts including all design disciplines required to put a quality hotel together. With his extensive experience in overseeing all aspects of the complexity of hotel projects from initial design planning through opening and post opening, he is able to pass his knowledge of "what to do" and equally important, "what not to do" in investing and building a hotel.

Prior to Apara, Michael was with Marriott over 26 years where he formed and led, Global Design Asia Pacific at Marriott International. Under his leadership at Marriott, he and his team opened over 1,000 hotels and worked on more than 700 hotels in the pipeline in Asia Pacific across 23 countries.

Michael is a Registered Architect of State of Maryland in the United States and a member of American Institute of Architects and holds a BA from the University of Houston undergraduate architectural program. He also successfully led the Marriott E-Cornell University Certification program for "Hotel Planning the Marriott Way" in 2019 and since 2014, Michael had conducted countless "Hotel Design and Planning 101" lectures throughout Asia to share his expertise and knowledge on hotel design. As part of his passion for learning, he recently completed the MIT program on Artificial Intelligence for Business, Harvard Business School program on Driving Performance and Cornell program on Business Negotiation Skill.

Paul Semple

Director – Matthew Shang Design Office

Paul Semple has worked with his life collaborator Matthew Shang for more than 15 years. That collaboration lead to the pair re-establishing their hospitality focused ID studio MSDO in 2020.

With more than 20 years of experience Paul has worked throughout South East Asia, China, the Middle East and Australia, and since 2004 has been based in Singapore.

Paul has overseen and led projects ranging from opulent luxury retail spaces, large scale hospitality venues, city hotels, small resort properties and award winning bar projects such as Manhattan Bar, Atlas and 28 Hong Kong Street.

Paul has honed his skills with a diverse range of firms, from the boutique design studio Distillery to one of the world’s largest developers and led the global hospitality team at Hassell for more than 5 years. Paul has journeyed back to his own studio where intimate, client focused and joyful design is the driving approach that he brings to his work and the ethos that is the foundation of MSDO.

Paul Wiste

Vice President, Design & Construction, APAC - Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Paul is the Vice President of Design & Construction at Four Seasons for the Asia Pacific region. He leads a team that is currently developing 16 newbuild hotels and resorts across the region as well as numerous CAPEX projects within the existing portfolio. He has presented keynote speeches and has participated in panel discussions at various hospitality and architecture conferences within the Asia Pacific region and is active in researching and publishing future trends and theory in hospitality design, drawing upon the professional experience he has accumulated across the globe over the past 25 years.

Piya Thamchariyawat

Senior Creative Director / Principal - EDG

Piya is a Principal and Senior Creative Director for EDG Design based in Singapore. With over 20 years of experience with the firm, she is an industry maven who is involved in all facets of the design process, leading the design team through each phase of work from initial concept until project completion.

As the creative lead for EDG’s hospitality and F&B projects in the region, Piya brings true international expertise to bear and each project she embarks on is conceptualized to create an evocative journey for the guest, told through the lens of a deeply rooted design narrative.

Many of Piya’s projects have earned awards and accolades from the design community including AHEAD, and her involvement has ensured that EDG is a preferred consultant for brands including Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Accor and Alila, as well as scores of independent hoteliers and restaurateurs.

Stephen Luk

Regional Vice President, Design Services - Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Stephen Luk is the Regional Vice President of Design Services for Hyatt’s ASPAC region. He is also specifically supporting the expanding Hyatt development in the Greater China and Australia portfolio. He and his team steer Hyatt’s design and brand concept, hotel planning and development, and hotel opening and transition across all Hyatt brands in the region. The goal is to ensure that, through a collaborative and inclusive process, realise brand focused, creative, and economic design solutions that enhance preference for our guests, our owner developers, and our colleagues and associates.

Stephen spearheaded the first Hyatt Centric in Melbourne Australia. He is also currently bringing the first Caption by Hyatt, Hyatt House, JDV by Hyatt and Unbound Collections by Hyatt to Australia. He is supervising the design and development across Hyatt’s 27 brands in the Asia Pacific region.

Before spending six years at Hyatt Hotels, Stephen spent more than five years in Shanghai with another international hospitality brand. He has also spent 13 years practicing in both hospitality Architecture and Interior Design in New York City. He obtained his Master degree from Columbia University in NYC and Bachelor degrees from University of Melbourne.

Toby Smith

Deputy Chairman – Swire Hotels

Born and brought up in the U.K., Toby joined the Swire group as a Management Trainee in 1991 after graduating from the University of Bristol. During his tenure at Swire, Toby has held positions within the group’s shipping and aviation sectors, which has taken him to countries as diverse as Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Australia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, France, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In 2017, Toby joined Swire Hotels as Managing Director, overseeing the day to day responsibilities of Swire Hotels and its two brands, The House Collective and EAST. He has now been promoted to Deputy Chairman and leads the growth and development of the group.

Prior to joining Swire Hotels, Toby was the General Manager of Sales and Distribution at Cathay Pacific Airways.

Vincent de Graaf

Co-Founder & Design Principal - Aim Architecture

Vincent graduated with a Master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Planning in Amsterdam and a Masters in Interior Design in Maastricht. With nearly 20 years of working experience stretching over multiple respected offices in urban planning, architecture and interior, and in both Europe and China, Vincent is both an exceptional architect engaging with traditional concepts and cultural ‘big picture’ ideals, and uniquely capable of seeing a project from the inside out. He has a Dutch practicality and warmth, and his design practice fuses strength with optimism and new, inspired considerations of community.

Evan Kwee

Vice Chairman - Capella Hotel Group - Head, Hospitality & Design - Pontiac Land Group

Evan Kwee is the Head of Hospitality and Design for the Pontiac Land Group, a privately held property developer, owner and operator based in Singapore. He previously lead the Group’s business development arm for 15 years but now focuses on all their new hospitality developments. Pontiac Land’s asset under management is in excess of SGD$13 billion.
Evan is also the Vice Chairman of the Capella Hotel Group, where he oversees all product and brand innovation working closely with designers, architects, and engineers constantly seeking to improve hospitality design and experiences. Evan graduated from Babson College with a Degree in Business Administration and Management.


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Entries open
25 Jan 2023
Entries close
28 Apr 2023
20 Sep 2023