How I Travel: Clint Nagata Of BLINK Design Group
Born and raised on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Japanese-American Clint Nagata is the founder and creative director of BLINK Design Group, an award-winning luxury hospitality architecture and design firm behind some of the most breathtaking hotels and resorts around the world.
With footprints in exotic destinations such as Oman, Istanbul, Bora Bora and the Maldives to major cities like Beijing, Seoul, Manila and Kuala Lumpur, BLINK boasts a portfolio of prestigious hospitality brands including Aman, Six Senses, Alila, Capella and Raffles.
With studios in Bangkok, Singapore and Shanghai and projects on five continents, Nagata remains hands-on with each project from conception to completion, travelling frequently to project sites for inspiration to create bespoke designs centred around the genius loci of each destination.
Following the launch of his latest project, Raffles Maldives Meradhoo—the hotel group’s first property in the Maldives—we speak with Nagata about how he travels, including his favourite destination and travel essentials.
We’re gearing up to work on our firm’s first project in Australia, a luxury resort in the McLaren Vale wine region. Before that I travelled to the Serengeti, also for work. The Serengeti is a very surreal place where you feel like you’re in a zoo, being watched by all the animals.
I’m travelling to the Seychelles next week. We’ve just been commissioned to work on an amazing island there. After that I’m looking forward to a trip to Shanghai in October. Between now and the end of the year my schedule is packed with planned trips to Serengeti, Seoul, Kyoto, Miami, Dubai, Macau and Manila.
What do you love the most about travelling?
I travel very frequently for business, and often I’ll need to visit a project site multiple times. I take pleasure in that no matter how many times I’ve visited the same city, I always take away something new from the experience. For any designer, the exposure to different cultures and visual identities is invaluable.
Most memorable travel experience?
Traveling to Bora Bora. Visually stunning, and the climate and people remind me of my home in Hawaii.
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And the worst?
Mouniguo, a remote, tiny village in China high up in the mountains near Bhutan. I remember eating rubbery homemade sausages and wearing all of the clothes I packed for the trip to sleep because my room was colder inside than it was outside!
Three things you always travel with?
My iPad, which is my mobile office, granola bars for a healthy snack option, and Apple TV to keep myself entertained.
What do you normally read on the plane?
I always find myself trying to disconnect from work entirely by watching movies. But sometimes flying is when I come up with a lot of creative ideas. Maybe it’s the high altitude, or maybe it’s the drinks.
Favourite travel companion?
A pair of B&O wireless earbuds and Bose headphones.
Aisle or window seat?
Right window seat.
Favourite travel app?
Tripcase to keep track of all my flights, and Agoda or Booking.com to book my hotel stays.
Your best travel tip?
Always keep an open mind.
Any tips on overcoming jet lag?
Reset your watch and body clock the moment you step on the plane.
What are the latest travel trends?
The Maldives is not a new destination, but it seems to be having another moment—especially where luxury hospitality and well-considered design are concerned. We completed the Raffles Maldives, the Raffles group’s first property there, earlier this year, and we’re wrapping up our work on the Pullman Maldives Maamutaa this month.
Other destinations that you might be hearing more about in the next few years are remote private islands in places like the Philippines and the Seychelles that offer exclusive luxury and privacy and are easily accessible with private airstrips.
Follow Clint Nagata on Instagram @clintnagata and learn more about BLINK Design Group
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