Clint Nagata:
Rapid Eye Movement

Meet the man designing some of Asia’s most outstanding resorts — by Oliver Irvine

In an interview with Property Report, Nagata recounts how a visit to see one of his design heroes led to the founding of what is now one of the world’s most sought-after luxury hospitality design firms. “I had no idea we would do as well as we have,” he says. “It’s not only about talent, but timing.”

“Rapid Eye Movement” begins in the Bangkok studio of designer Bill Bensley. “I remember going into the basement and seeing a bunch of artists at work,” Nagata says. “The whole thing was so…inspirational. The process, the sheer talent. I was taken in.”

Soon after, Bensley offered Nagata the use of some back offices. With that, BLINK was born, becoming over the next 12 years an ascendant leader in luxury hospitality design with studios in four cities, and projects on five continents.

Nagata, an Oahu native, says that geography has been crucial to success. “Asia is pioneering,” he says. “We’ve been fortunate that the market has been quite strong. Designers from all over the world are doing fresh projects here, which you now see reflected in other parts of the world.”

Where some firms deploy a “house” style, BLINK works in a bespoke manner, creating a new pattern for every client. Its signature approach includes a strong sense of place, an insistence on local heritage and materials, and the willingness to custom-design that which cannot be found elsewhere.

In the article, just as on projects, Nagata insists on the importance of the client. “Our role is to bring out the best in a location,” Nagata says, “but also to think about the brand and the owner. Often, our clients are individuals with aspirations of opening hotels, personal projects, so we like to instill their tastes and likes into our design.”