The Bellevue Hotel, situated below The Hill in El Gouna is due to change its face and its name, becoming The Chedi El Gouna in Spring 2022. Chedi is the Thai word for a Buddhist stupa which is a hall for meditation and devotion. These stupas are often embossed in gold and show both curved and pointed designs distinguishing themselves with much pride on the skyline.
El Gouna Hotels are honoured to have secured the services of Rome-born, Elisabetta Freda, a remarkable interior decorator, to take the design of The Chedi El Gouna into her repertoire.
Elisabetta graciously agreed to an interview whereby we have asked her a few questions to give us a sneak preview into The Chedi El Gouna. We also got to know more about her and what makes her work so attractive and successful.
Q: This is a big project by several designers. Which part are you responsible for?
A: I am responsible for the initial interior concept. This is the central theme, color choice and mood that the following interior design is based upon.
Q: Orascom Development has 2 other Chedi hotels: The Chedi Andermatt in Switzerland and The Chedi Lustica Bay in Montenegro. Interestingly each has a completely different color palette and style. In which direction will the new hotel be going?
The Chedi Lustica Bay Lobby
A: You forgot Muscat, Oman. I just loved this hotel. The use of natural materials project a perfect combination of simplicity and elegance. This filled me with inspiration for the El Gouna project.
Andermatt is indeed unbelievably beautiful and the details are so incredibly perfect. There is a use of natural materials such as stone, copper and iron which works very well and I will be using a similar strategy for El Gouna.
Q: El Gouna and Chedi are two different brands with different architectural styles which are being fused together. How will you define the brands artistically while joining them?
A: It is a challenge, yes. I am trying to stay neutral between the two without pushing too hard to either side. Although I will be using both influences, Asian and Egyptian, I also have to consider El Gouna’s contemporary style. I think the answer will be more evident when it is seen.
Q: Which colors will you choose for The Chedi El Gouna and why?
A: I have naturally chosen colours from the palette of the Chedi, as it has its own lines which are inspiring within themselves. I have also added some personal touches which I believe will add a magnificence and will create harmony that complement the light and tones we already find in El Gouna.
Q: When you come to El Gouna, where do you like to go?
A: El Gouna is not a holiday destination for me, it’s another home. My father built a villa in the Hill in the early days and so I spend most of my free time there.
Q: How do you intend to make your unique mark on El Gouna?
A: My aim is not necessarily to leave a mark, but my choice in colors as well as the details I plan to use will certainly demonstrate my signature work. There will be an element of my style in the finished product. My goal, however, is to create a beautiful hotel that is pleasing to the eye and where people feel comfortable. This is what guides me in this project. My father, of course, is also my guide as he has already left his unique mark in Gouna – on the Hill near to where the Chedi El Gouna will be as well as in the New Marina.
Q: You have visited several hotels in El Gouna and other Chedis around the world. What would make this a unique addition to El Gouna’s portfolio of hotels and also to The Chedis .
A: There is an extraordinary hotel in El Gouna, namely La Maison Bleue. Considering it’s success, I think El Gouna needed an alternative and this will be The Chedi El Gouna. Chedi will achieve the privilege of residing in Egypt, one of the most beautiful, exotic and fascinating countries in the world.
Q: What will be your next project after The Chedi El Gouna?
A: I am also currently working on a renovation of an important Roma Palace which is dated from the 16th Century. It has been in the works for almost two years but is nearly complete. My next project will be in Saudi Arabia where I will be decorating an elaborate private villa in Jeddah.
Q: You have a phenomenal website with a beautiful introduction to yourself. We can already see that there is a quality of professionalism to your work that is rare. The website also mentions your father as the inspiration behind your work. Tell us more about him.
A: My father was a real gentleman. A kind man who was equally elegant and sophisticated, he introduced me to beauty in many different ways. He taught me how to watch, how to observe, and above all, the importance of the detail in everything.
My father is indeed my primary source of inspiration. He sewed the seed that sprung my passion for design and my career into life. Each project I start, I find myself wondering what he would have done and try to match that. In a way, his art still lives on.
Q: Where do you begin when designing a new hotel? Do you start with the target market in mind, or with inspirations from the local area?
A: Hotels are a business. I understand that. And I understand they have a target market to reach, and my purpose is to help them achieve their goals. But mentally, as I take on a creative project, I start with the local area. I think about the culture, the land, the traditions, and I always try to design sites that belong to the area. The light is also very important as well as the size and space I have to work with. It must all balance.
Q: What projects are closest to your heart.
A: There are two projects that I fell in love with. Some projects are special to an artist, for no particular reason and I loved a private house in Charles St. in Mayfair, London as well as a villa in Cannes named Palazzo del Drago Roma.
Q: What is the time span for interior design from the shortest to the longest you’ve spent on a project?
A: As with any project or job, it depends on the size and amount of work, but my record, so far, is 4 years. It was a very sizeable and complex job. Otherwise, on average a project lasts about 18 months. The shortest job I’ve taken was an apartment which took 6 months.
Q: What advice would you give to young and aspiring interior designers, particularly here in Egypt?
A: I would tell young aspiring designers to gain insight from things left to us from ancient civilisations, especially in Egypt. It should be our duty to draw inspiration from beautiful things from the past. We need to reinterpret their amazing work, observe their designs, and use these elements creatively while keeping things simple so as not to over design or complicate the look. And again, to emphasise the need for perfection in detail, I quote Leonardo da Vinci, “details make perfection.”
With all thanks to Elisabetta for this enlightening interview, we wait with much anticipation to see what she will bring to The Chedi El Gouna and how that will impact the wider El Gouna.
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