Bill Bensley

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Bill Bensley
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Born
William Bensley

(1959-02-02) February 2, 1959 (age 62)
Orange Country, California
NationalityAmerican
CitizenshipUnited States
Occupation
  • Architect
  • interior designer

Bill Bensley, born William Bensley, is an American landscape architect, and interior designer who has designed over 200 hospitality projects in 50 countries.[1] He is the founder and creative director of Bangkok and Bali-based design studio BENSLEY, established in 1989 and 1990 respectively.[2]

Early life and education

Bensley was born on February 2nd 1959 to English immigrants, in Orange County, California|Orange Country, California.[3] His father was an research engineer for NASA.[4] Following a career day talk landscape architect Rocco Campanozzi[5] (Knott's Berry Farm|Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park), Bensley joined California State Polytechnic University, Pomona|California State Polytechnic University’s Landscape architecture|Landscape Architecture program.[6] In his book Escapism, Bensley recalls his first big presentation in his freshman year: overcome by nerves, he threw his model to the floor and walked out.[7] He credits this night with BENSLEY's unconventional presentation style now, where he unrolls meter-wide scrolls that are sometimes 15 meters long or more.[8] At University Bensley went on to win an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects|ASLA[9] which led to a full scholarship at Harvard Graduate School of Design|Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, studying Urban Design under famed architect Moshe Safdie, and alongside Mathar Bunnag|Lek Mathar Bunnag,[10] who invited him to come to Asia after they completed their studies at Harvard in 1984. The day after graduation Bensley started backpacking across Europe, before going to Malaysia where he hitchhiked and exchanged sketches of people he met for meals, as he worked his way to Singapore.[8]

Career

Following graduation from Harvard University|Harvard in 1984, Bensley joined Belt Collins & Associates in Singapore for 3 years, followed by 2 years in their Hong Kong office.[11] In that time he learnt Indonesian and Malay, and familiarised himself with the Southeast Asian architectural vernacular, particularly that of Bali.[12] Bensley then moved to Bangkok, where he opened the first BENSLEY studio in 1989, and a second in Bali in 1990.[13] The studio's early projects included landscaped gardens for the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, the Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur and the Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa.[6] Private clients included Malaysian Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu,[14] and the private home[15] of businessman Howard Feldman.[16]

In 2006 the BENSLEY-designed Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle opened in Chiang Rai.[17] It was the first BENSLEY tented camp project, and doubles as a sanctuary for rehabilitated elephants.[18] A new concept in hospitality, it was awarded Condé Nast Traveler|Conde Nast Traveller Readers' Choice #1 Hotel in the World, three years in a row.[19] Gradually BENSLEY grew from a landscaping studio to one offering architecture and interior design as well. In 2010 Bensley was awarded the AD100 - an annual survey of the best names in design by Architectural Digest [20] - and said in an interview: "We pride ourselves on our attention to every detail, from the architecture and gardens down to the napkin rings and signage."[21] He is often defined as a Maximalism|maximalist designer.[22]

Bensley’s work is centered around sustainability, with Tatler Malaysia writing that "he has made it his life’s mission to preserve the sanctity of the Earth through focused ecological practices."[23] At the Four Seasons Koh Samui he introduced the concept of Minimal Intervention: preserving existing landscapes through architecture built around trees and adapted to the existing terrain, rather than cutting down trees and disrupting natural Sustainable drainage system|drainage patterns. BENSLEY's dedication to Conservation biology|conservation and sustainability continued with the opening of a tented camp[24] in Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains|Cardamom mountains, Shinta Mani Wild - Bensley Collection, under the Shinta Mani Hotel Group. Bensley purchased a piece of land “roughly the size of Central Park”[25] to prevent it from being mined, and set up a 15 tent luxury camp, which funds the protection of the forest from poaching and logging by Wildlife Alliance, a common issue in the area. It is now credited as a National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, which are "dedicated to protecting the surrounding habitats and cultures".[26] This is a new model of hospitality which blends conservation with high-end luxury.[27] In 2020 Bensley self published a white paper on sustainability called Sensible Sustainable Solutions. Architectural Digest called Bensley a "...pioneer in sustainable hotel design for the past three decades... (who) not only anticipated the shift toward sustainability, but is also now sharing his hard-earned knowledge with others in the industry".

Select Work

  • Capella Ubud, Bali, Indonesia[28]
  • Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand[29]
  • JW Marriott Phu Quoc, Vietnam[30]
  • Rosewood Luang Prabang, Laos[31]
  • Intercontinental Danang, Vietnam[32]
  • Shinta Mani Siem Reap - Bensley Collection, Cambodia[33]
  • Shinta Mani Wild - Bensley Collection, Cambodia[34]
  • MGallery Hotel de la Coupole, Sapa, Vietnam[35]
  • Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India[36]

Awards

Year Award Nominee Category Result
2005 Architectural Digest Bill Bensley AD100: Top 100 Architecture & Interior Design[37] Winner
2010 Architectural Digest Bill Bensley AD100: Top 100 Architecture & Interior Design[38] Winner
2017 Hospitality Design Bill Bensley Platinum Circle Hall of Fame of Hospitality Design in New York Winner
2019 Surface Magazine Bill Bensley Travel Awards 2019 - Nomination in Adventure Camping Category[39] Finalist
2019 AHEAD Bill Bensley Asia 2019 Outstanding Contribution Award for Hospitality and Design[40] Winner
2019 Design Anthology Bill Bensley Magazine Awards 2019; Vanguard, Finalist[41] Finalist
2019 World Travel Awards Bill Bensley Outstanding Contribution Award[42] Winner
2020 TTG Luxury Travel Bill Bensley Awards 2020 - Contribution to Luxury Travel Award[43] Winner
2020 Interior Design Confederation, Singapore Bill Bensley Interior Designer of the Year – Designers’ Choice 2020[44] Winner

Publishing History

Year Book Title Bensley's Role Publishing Details ISBN
2000 Tropical Paradise Author alongside Tan Hock Beng and Photographer Hearst Book Intl (September 1, 2000) ISBN-10 : 0823054519

ISBN-13 : 978-0823054510

2008 Paradise by Design: Tropical Residences and Resorts by Bensley Design Studios Author and Photographer Periplus Editions; Reprint Edition (February 24, 2015) ISBN-10 : 0794607667

ISBN-13 : 978-0794607661

2017 Escapism - Volume 1 Author and Photographer Serindia Publications 2017; Reprint Edition - self publication 2020 ISBN-13: 978-1932476828

ISBN-10: 1932476822

Personal life

Bensley and his husband, Jirachai Renthong,[45] a horticulturist, together run the BENSLEY studio, alongside their six Jack Russells: Chuck Berry, Bobby Brown, Sammy Davis Jr, Jesse James, Frank Sinatra, and Tommy Bahama. Bensley has two siblings, one of them named Ann, with whom he travels often. Bill Bensley is known to run daily,[46] and paints in his personal time.[47]

In the media

  

References

  1. CNN, By Karla Cripps. "The paradise maker: Meet luxury resort designer Bill Bensley". CNN. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  2. Paul, Michael (2020-02-24). "Inside Designer Bill Bensley's Magical Bangkok Home". Tatler Thailand. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  3. "A Sense of Service - Sight". BBC Storyworks. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  4. "Platinum Circle 2017: Bill Bensley". Hospitality Design. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  5. "INTERVIEW: BILL BENSLEY, FOUNDER BENSLEY". SPACE | International Hotel Design. 2020-06-30. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Bill Bensley - BENSLEY". www.bensley.com. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  7. Bensley, Bill (2017). Escapism Volume I. Bangkok. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-1932476828.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Bensley, Bill (2008). Paradise by Design: Tropical Residences and Resorts by Bensley Design Studios. Singapore. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0794607661.
  9. Paul, Michael (2020-02-24). "Inside Designer Bill Bensley's Magical Bangkok Home". Tatler Thailand. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  10. Kanin, Srimaneekulroj (2014-12-14). "Bangkok's king of exotic luxury resorts, Bill Bensley". SG Magazine. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  11. Lockhart, Katie. "Tour the Whimsical Bangkok Home of a World-Renowned Hotel Designer". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  12. Bensley, Bill (2008). Paradise by Design: Tropical Residences and Resorts by Bensley Design Studios. Singapore. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0794607661.
  13. "Changing The Landscape". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  14. Ferber, Lawrence. "World-Renowned Designer Bill Bensley on His Favorite Hotel Projects". Condé Nast Traveler. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  15. "Howie's HomeStay, Chiang Mai, Thailand - Hotel Review". Condé Nast Traveler. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  16. "Thailand Compound". WSJ. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  17. "Camp Facts | Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand". Four Seasons Press Room. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  18. Magazine, Wallpaper* (2017-05-11). "The Explorer's Lodge at the Four Seasons Tented Camp — Chiang Rai, Thailand". Wallpaper*. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  19. "Profiling: Bill Bensley | Best Interior Designers". www.bestinteriordesigners.eu. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  20. "AD100". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  21. architecturaldigest.com. "2010 AD100: Bill Bensley". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  22. January 5, CBS News; 2020; Am, 9:33. "Hotel designer Bill Bensley, delighting in the art of surprise". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  23. Jingmei, Luo (2020-09-02). "Bill Bensley On Practical And Green Hotel Design". Tatler Malaysia. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  24. Magazine, Wallpaper* (2020-04-22). "The design hotels pushing towards a more eco-friendly future". Wallpaper*. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  25. Evans, Christina Ohly (2019-05-11). "The Aesthete: Bill Bensley talks more personal taste". cms.howtospendit.ft.com. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  26. "National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World". National Geographic Unique Lodges. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  27. "What it's like to be Bill Bensley, designer of whimsical resorts". South China Morning Post. 2019-02-24. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  28. Lockhart, Katie. "Tour the Whimsical Bangkok Home of a World-Renowned Hotel Designer". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  29. Magazine, Wallpaper* (2017-05-11). "The Explorer's Lodge at the Four Seasons Tented Camp — Chiang Rai, Thailand". Wallpaper*. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  30. "A Sense of Service - Sight". BBC Storyworks. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  31. Romeyn, Kathryn; Romeyn, Kathryn (2018-08-28). "Five Questions with Visionary Architect Bill Bensley". Robb Report. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  32. "Bill Bensley shares the stories behind his hotel design". Discovery. 2019-02-08. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  33. "C&TH Meets Visionary Architect & Designer Bill Bensley | Interviews". Country and Town House. 2020-02-07. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  34. "About". National Geographic Unique Lodges. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  35. "A Retreat in Vietnam, Cult-Inspired Dressing and More". The New York Times. 2019-02-08. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  36. Carroll, Petra. "India's Amarvilas". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  37. Rowlands, Penelops. "AD 100: Bill Bensley". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  38. architecturaldigest.com. "2010 AD100: Bill Bensley". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  39. "Announcing The Finalists for The 2019 Surface Travel Awards". SURFACE. 2019-08-27. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  40. "Bill Bensley To Receive AHEAD Asia 2019 Outstanding Contribution Award". INDESIGNLIVE SINGAPORE | Daily Connection to Architecture and Design. 2019-02-28. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  41. "Finalists". Design Anthology Education Fund. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  42. VIR, Vietnam Investment Review- (2019-11-29). "Sun Group lands major haul of honors at World Travel Awards 2019". Vietnam Investment Review - VIR. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  43. "Revealed: the winners of the TTG Luxury Travel Awards 2020". TTG. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  44. "Design Excellence Awards 2020 | Programmes | Design Excellence Awards | IDCS". Interior Design Confederation Singapore (IDCS). Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  45. "Designing Luxury: The Prolific Creativity of Bill Bensley and Jirachai Rengthong - Passport Magazine". passportmagazine.com. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  46. "Interview: Bill Bensley, designer: "Luxury is dead"". Hotel Designs. 2018-03-01. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  47. Paul, Michael (2020-02-24). "Inside Designer Bill Bensley's Magical Bangkok Home". Tatler Thailand. Retrieved 2020-10-05.

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