The Exotik Suite designed by Eva Khoury at the Riva del Sole Resort&SPA provides us with the chance to delve into her elegant and functional style

Eva Khoury, interior designer specializing in hospitality

Eva Khoury (E.K Design) is an Italian interior designer of Lebanese descent. She lived in Paris for a long time before moving to Italy in 2005 and has always been traveling worldwide. Her cosmopolitanism allows her to know the aesthetic and functional needs of a grand hotel.

Exotik Suite al Riva del Sole Resort&SPA, a Castiglione della Pescaia, in Toscana (Italy)

After designing the interiors of hotels and restaurants, mainly in the Middle East, she is now working on the gradual and complete restyling of the Riva del Sole Resort&Spa in Castiglione della Pescaia, Tuscany (Italy), a facility with a particular history. It was built in the ’60s in Scandinavian style, with advanced criteria for that time (architectural barrier-free, equipped with spaces for children), and it is still of Swedish property.

DESIGNDIFFUSION.COM INTERVIEWS EVA KHOURY What are the criteria for a ‘good’ interior design project, particularly in the hospitality field?

Eva Khoury: I don’t like saying that there are good and bad works. Taste and art are highly subjective. I can say if something is functional and well-done or not, if the chosen material meets the needs and the function of the place. I’m often negatively surprised when I see a beautiful place but the material has been used in the wrong way achieving a poor result, because the one who expressed his/her style didn’t take functionality into account. I think there’s still a long way to go for those who design a hotel or a restaurant without a specific background. You must always trust someone who has already designed restaurants and hotels because it’s quite different from furnishing a private apartment. I have designed also private villas and houses, I know the differences.

Close up sui materiali d’ispirazione svedese uniti a quelli italiani scelti da Eva Khoury per la Exotik Suite How do you combine functionality and aesthetics? When can an environment be defined as ‘balanced’?

Eva Khoury: A balanced environment has to make the guest feel relaxed and be equipped with everything he/she may need so that they can feel at home despite being away from it. It takes a good dose of awareness to furnish a space used by all; it shouldn’t be ‘challenging’, but welcoming and functional. Moreover, I don’t work only on furnishings but on anything that creates the ambience of a hotel: uniforms, menus, branding, ambient music and fragrances. I’m proud to be a self-made woman, because it takes continuous international research to keep up with technology and design. My job is my passion! What are the difficulties you are proudest to overcome in your work?

Eva Khoury: There are many difficulties in a project, especially when renovating existing spaces. For me, overcoming the bureaucratic aspects and completing the project within the client’s budget is already an achievement. But what makes me happy is having a team of collaborators where we immediately understand each other, in fact I like designing but also staying at the construction yard (even when it’s very cold or hot). What’s your source of inspiration? Nature, different cultures, your experiences around the world?

Eva Khoury: I’m a dreamer by nature, my imagination runs wild anytime I enter a place: I think about what I like, what I don’t like, what I could do to make it more ‘beautiful’…it’s a professional bias. The greatest inspiration comes when I don’t expect it. Once I was walking by a closed pharmacy, I looked inside and the sunrays on the shutter and the glass were creating an amazing light inside. I took a photo with my cell phone and then I tried to reproduce the same effect of lights and furnishings in a project. I must say that the result was surprising even to myself! My inspiration comes from anywhere.

Exotik Suite, su progetto di E. K Design al Riva del Sole Resort&SPA Let’s talk about the Riva del Sole Resort&SPA: this is your latest project, located in Tuscany, a Swedish building from the ’60s, where the Nordic style is still apparent

Eva Khoury: Yes, the project for Riva del Sole Resort&Spa has a strong sustainable identity that I wanted to preserve, combining Italian manpower with Swedish style. All the rooms of the hotel (155) I’ve refurbished feature custom made furnishings that have been made in Italy with all-Italian materials, while reflecting the Scandinavian style in terms of minimalism and use of spaces.

Una vista dell’ampia Exotik Suite, riportata da Eva Khoury a un comfort contemporaneo con bagno open How could you combine this style, which is back in fashion, with your creative ideas for the new Exotik Suite?
Eva Khoury
: The ‘Exotik Suite’ Exclusive, which I’ve designed this year, is the second for Riva del Sole Resort&Spa. Some years ago I created the ‘Coral Suite’ in a completely different style, for those who want to be surrounded by a light, marine and modern space in front of the sea. The ‘Exotic Suite’, on the other hand, overlooking the sea, is dedicated to those who love luxury. These two exclusive suites are very spacious and give my personal touch to the Riva del Sole Resort&SPA, even if they are different. I think it’s right to offer the guests a wide choice to allow them to dream in their favorite style. I designed all the pieces of furniture of the rooms, I wanted to enrich the Exotic Suite with accessories by two great designers: a visionary, Philippe Starck, and a master, Vico Magistretti. The wallpaper is by Wall&Deco, the lamps by Flos and all the sanitary wares used for the renovation of the hotel are by Villeroy & Boch. Why is it called Exotik Suite?
Eva Khoury: This name reflects a world that is simply exotic! It’s a blend of colors, there is brass in particular, which I noticed in many places in Stockholm. I fell in love with this material many years ago, I even used it for a restaurant in Beirut.

Il nuovo bagno luxury dell’Exotik Suite del Riva del Sole Resort&Spa What are your projects for the future? Will you go on collaborating with the Riva del Sole?
Eva Khoury: Yes, it will. In 2019 the new restaurant of the Riva del Sole Resort&SPA will inaugurate. I’m already working on it: the complete renovation started at the end of October 2018 and the end is scheduled for the beginning of April 2019, for the opening of the new season. It will be great news, I won’t unveil the name. It will be a complete surprise! What’s your favorite project up to now? Why?

Eva Khoury: All projects that I create are ‘little jewels of mine’, scattered worldwide. It’s always been difficult to answer this question. I’m particularly fond of a restaurant in Beirut, that was located inside a urban greenhouse. Chairs and tables are surrounded by trees and flowers, a surreal dimension with waterfalls, bridges connecting banks full of water lilies, in a concept I designed, inspired by nature and man.