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Jean-Michel Gathy: The Timeless Pursuit of Comfort and Iconic Hospitality Design

The ‘living legend’ Jean-Michel Gathy is the genius behind the most iconic luxury hotel and resort designs in the world.

Jean-Michel Gathy portraits (photo courtesy of Denniston)

The ‘living legend’ Jean-Michel Gathy is the genius behind the most iconic luxury hotel and resort designs in the world. An award-winning architect and interior designer with more than 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Jean-Michel Gathy is one of the big three core architects – alongside the late Ed Tuttle and the late Kerry Hill – who established the DNA blueprint of Aman Resorts from its formative days to present glory. 

The go-to name for innovative and forward-thinking designs in luxury hospitality, Jean-Michel Gathy has amassed a celebrated portfolio of iconic projects, including the Marina Bay Sands infinity pool in Singapore; the crowning glory of Aman New York, carved out of the fourth to 26th stories of the Crown Building on the coveted Fifth Avenue; and Aman’s sister brand, Janu Tokyo, with the promise of delivering harmony through balance to the city’s new dynamic heart in Azabudai Hills.

Based in Asia, Gathy has spent most of his adult life in the continent, developing his unique signature touch, philosophies and innovations on every project. In recognition of his impact, several accolades have been awarded to Gathy, including the induction into the "Platinum Circle of Hospitality Design" in 2006; the title of “Officer of the Order of the Crown” conferred by the King of Belgium in 2019; the Outstanding Contribution Award of the hotel industry in 2022; and more.

Across Gathy’s prominent projects, one enduring element of luxury that remains across is what he defines as comfort, and this is intimately linked to his approach to designing for hospitality. His foundational desire for comfort has shaped his design process, and through his experiences, sought to create a level of comfort reminiscent of a home away from home. For Gathy, the layering of spaces and the design philosophy of geometry ensure that each design is as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing, comforting to both mind and spirit. 

At the heart of every Jean-Michel Gathy design project is something timeless – however, constant innovation and out-of-the-box techniques have paved the way for Gathy’s legendary hospitality design to be cherished and recognised around the world. From Tokyo to New York; and the Maldives to Singapore, prominent design notes across Gathy’s works include:

L-R: Jean-Michel Gathy; Aman New York exterior (Crown Building); Aman New York Corner Suite [photos Courtesy of Aman]

Aman New York – A ‘temple of design’ set in New York City’s landmark Crown Building, peace is promised by Aman’s Sanskrit-derived name, in an oasis marked by exceptional acoustic treatment. Set in the heart of Manhattan, Aman New York captures an interactive place in an extraordinary location, composed through Gathy’s signature use of Asian 'layering' of areas and lighting, with western materials. Geometrically conceptualised, powerful and simple; of muted colours, simplicity of materials and the overall harmony create the feeling of peacefulness throughout Aman New York. 

Janu Tokyo – Translated as ‘soul’ in Sanskrit, Janu Tokyo will deliver a spirited social scene in contrast to sister brand Aman’s whisper-quiet seclusion, designed to offer balance between personal fulfilment and relaxation, imbuing an energy that appeals to those desiring greater purpose and inner contentment. Designed under the leadership of Gathy, Janu Tokyo will reflect and celebrate the city’s rich, cultural fabric, exuding the brand’s signature energy inspired by connection, balance and exploration.

One&Only Reethi Rah – Gathy introduced the first overwater hanging nets inspired by sailboats and yachts. At its point of debut it was regarded as a revolution, and now has become a global standard for ultra-luxurious oceanside villas.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore – Gathy is the mastermind behind one of the prominent features of the cherry on top of one of Singapore’s landmarks – the Marina Bay Sands’ rooftop that was conceptualised and designed with the infinity pool as the centrepiece, overlooking the surrounding skyscrapers. 

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