Career Path

Beyond sensory perfection

by Rachel Sproston

Gus Lundt, hotel stylist
The Langham Hong Kong
Photo: Nolly Leung

Fung shui masters and style gurus float in and out of hotels worldwide whenever such hotels are in need of a makeover embedded with a distinctive personality. The Langham Hong Kong however is light years ahead with its very own hotel stylist to coordinate styling on a macro scale from product design, food presentation and uniform cut to room layout.

Gus Lundt, hotel stylist, The Langham Hong Kong is currently at the forefront of the hotel's rebranding exercise. Mr Lundt's major responsibility is to ensure that every hotel guest is enchanted by not only the look, but also the feel of The Langham in Tsim Sha Tsui and its sister hotel Langham Place in Mongkok.

"Experientially, guests visit our hotels or during their stay sense a heightened feeling of overall sensory pleasure. This stretches beyond mere visual attraction into taste, touch and sound," Mr Lundt says, noting that his ultimate goal is to create that unique experience and make sure guests notice and truly appreciate the difference.

Sense and sensitivity

At the age of 19 Mr Lundt decided on a career in retail design and was rapidly promoted to a senior position a year later. Over the past decade, he has gained extensive experience in visual merchandising particularly in furniture, home ware, cosmetics and high fashion, putting into good use his knowledge gained from the Design Fundamentals programme he took at the University of Technology in Sydney. "It is all about having the eye," he says.

Indeed, Mr Lundt carries a camera with him wherever he goes and captures every interesting stylistic touch he may encounter. His reports for the hotels are pictorial and annotated rather than reams of written notes. Experience has taught him that images convey a message far more accurately than description.

A nine-to-five daily routine is simply not Mr Lundt's style. "My job is not something I attend to for part of the day. I am constantly sourcing, planning and incorporating new ideas into our hotel styling strategy," he adds. "For instance, I spent a night in one of our guest rooms to experience what a guest would: sleeping, showering and moving around the room to really feel where we can make improvements to maximise both room functionality and guest comfort." Mr Lundt's artistic flair enables him to promptly articulate how the room can be transformed architecturally and stylistically to enhance future guests' experience.

Prior to his current appointment, Mr Lundt undertook a styling project for The Langham in Melbourne on a freelance basis. His impressive work caught the eye of Brett Butcher, senior vice president, Brands, Langham Hotels International, who subsequently brought Mr Lundt's career to Hong Kong.

"Act, don't react to criticism"

A qualified veterinary nurse and professional fitness instructor, Mr Lundt's portfolio of competencies encompasses more than design and styling.

Veterinary nursing nurtured his management skills while fitness training affords him a greater appreciation of human values and a sense of compassion which Mr Lundt finds invaluable when trying to comprehend variation in perceptions and other people's opinions. "These diverse skills have helped me become who I am and reach my current position," he explains.

Point of view

Criticism is commonplace in an industry where subjectivity plays a significant part. Mr Lundt remains pragmatic. "Act, don't react to criticism," he advises. "If your management team is less than enthusiastic about your ideas, find a way to either express your point more clearly or incorporate their ideas into your original blueprint."

Mr Lundt is Hong Kong's first permanent hotel stylist. This initiative alone exemplifies The Langham's commitment to excellence and the hotel's evident quest to remain at the cutting edge of the industry.

He believes that his wealth of experience in the field and mature outlook all add value to The Langham as a whole, noting that he would not have succeeded in his current position if he had taken the job 10 years earlier because the position requires a high degree of sensitivity and perspicacity.

"A creative and innovative edge are essential in addition to strong communication skills and an understanding of human psychology. Sophisticated management techniques will ensure optimal staff efficiency," Mr Lundt concludes.

Taken from Career Times 21 March 2008, p. B16
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