Founded by designer George Gorrow, The Slow hotel in Changgu, Bali is a celebration of laidback living. At a glimpse the spaces could be described as ‘tropical brutalism’ – but looking deeper there’s a wealth of influences from minimalism to traditional Indonesian craftsmanship. Natively-sourced, sustainable timber and stone form the foundation of the stunning design, paired with locally made furniture and crafts.
Your career was in fashion. When did you decide to design a hotel?
We spent a lot of our time on the road, and with that came to experience so many hotels. Some places I used to get excited to return to because the hotel experience itself was as interesting and fun as the location.
Hotels for me when done right were unique, intimate all-encompassing experiences. It’s similar to when we put on a fashion show back in the day, where everyone was involved, the entry, the seating, the music, the set, the girls and then the finale, these were my favourite moments in fashion, where we could give someone a complete experience - that’s what always made me interested in doing a hotel.
Can you tell us about The Slow and its concept?
It’s a small boutique hotel situated on the west coast of Bali, about 300 metres from some of Bali’s most fun all-rounder waves. The hotel itself consists of 15 large suites, and the venue is home to our personal art collection. The restaurant is a similar concept, curated dishes with a local spin, headed up by chef Dan Medcalf. Our gallery, which is a partnership with China Heights Gallery in Sydney, is an interactive pop-up space that showcases artists and products. And our music, which is a huge part of what we do, is curated by our friends Reverberation Radio from California.
Where is The Slow located and were there any specific design considerations?
The design works with the surrounding environment, using a mixture of screens over the entire building, which funnels the cooling sea breeze. The design was based around looking inward, creating internal gardens, and multiple spaces for you to venture through.
You describe the design as ‘tropical brutalism’.
It’s brutalist in form and materials. The design could also be described as warm minimalism as there’s an abundance of texture, simplicity and openness to the space.
How does the project allow guests to enjoy a ‘slow escape’?
Our venue is very intimate and we pride ourselves on our service. We encourage unplugging – checking into The Slow and checking out of your normal life. Our oversized suites are meant to allow relaxation and to help clear your mind – we don’t have desks or TVs but we have a dial that plays you 24-hour curated music. We try to take away decisions for you and curate a sensory stay that is unique.
Tell us about initiatives to minimise environmental impact on the island and at the hotel...
We use zero plastic and re-use grey water. The design of the hotel is naturally cooling and made using three types of local sand, while the floors are concrete and utilise local river stones. The furniture is primarily made from recycled teak, and other recycled materials, while our ceramics are made in-house by Cisco & The Sun. Our glassware comes courtesy of local Bali mums that collect and repurpose discarded bottles.
Did you encounter any challenges with The Slow’s build process?
Yes, of course, but that’s all part of the process of creating something.
Which aspects of The Slow are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the entire project itself – to have the idea realised and completed is a huge achievement. It was something very new to me and nice to see something permanent in a world of impermanence, and even something that can evolve, like a living breathing thing. The Slow has seen so many transformations already in its first 3 years.
ROCKCOTE Marrakesh in Natural White.
Natural, graceful and versatile, Marrakesh is a traditional lime plaster that allows the artisan to create a wide range of decorative and functional finishes. Drawing on traditional Tadelakt and Moroccan plaster finishes, Marrakesh delivers a smooth, lustrous look with an unrivalled soft, elegant appearance for decorative finishes.
Text: Nina Dorn | Photography: Tomma Soriva