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A Modern Oasis

DiLeonardo’s design for the Kempinski Hotel in Yinchuan, China incorporates lush colors and textures to create a five-star refuge in the middle of the desert.

By Adam Moore

DiLeonardo’s design for the Kempinski Hotel in Yinchuan, China incorporates lush colors and textures to create a five-star refuge in the middle of the desert.


In the middle of China's Ningxia Plain, an arid, windy region separated from the deserts of Mongolia by the Helan Mountains, rises a new oasis in the form of the five-star Kempinski Hotel Yinchuan. Designed by a team from the international firm DiLeonardo and located in the city of Yinchuan's burgeoning Jinfeng business district, the Kempinski Hotel Yinchuan is a first taste of European luxury in an area striving to become a global business destination.

According to Andrew Chiu, DiLeonardo's Asia Pacific regional director, the project's location within the growing city, as well as a request by the client to forgo local architectural and cultural influences in favor of a more cosmopolitan design aesthetic, led to the hotel's overarching theme.

"Being part of the new city center, and considering that Yinchuan is a lush and fertile land in the middle of a desert, we developed our design around the concept of a modern oasis."

That concept is fully and stunningly realized in the grand spaces of the Kempinski Hotel Yinchuan. As guests step into the lobby, cascading crystals on two giant walls, inspired by waterfalls, bring their eyes up toward the ceiling, where custom-designed crystal chandeliers resemble rain falling from clouds above. Those same concepts are carried into other areas of the hotel, such as the elevator lobby and the promenade connecting the lobby to the hotel's three restaurants. Since the promenade doesn't have any exposure to the lush landscaping outside—more than 600 trees have been planted on the property, according to the hotel's management—the team from DiLeonardo added a sizable water feature along one side of it.

Vibrant colors are infused into the lounge carpet and seating designs to subtly remind guests of being in a tropical garden. Dark wood paneling with concealed lighting on the walls provides a sophisticated atmosphere, while oversized pendant fixtures create a variety of seating zones and spatial experiences.

That depth of design is continued in the 409 guest rooms, which include presidential and diplomatic suites. Bold use of zebrawood, coupled with architectural layers and elegant millwork, give the rooms a rich and modern feel, while tree motifs, introduced into the art and fabric selections, provide some relief from all of the modern lines.

The bed head wall in each guest room features upholstered paneling that is framed with champagne-colored stainless steel trim; over that is zebrawood paneling pulled away from the upholstery to conceal LED lighting, which creates a slight glow. Above the bed is one of the few regional touches incorporated into the Kempinski Hotel Yinchuan: a dropped ceiling in silver leaf finish, reminiscent of a traditional Chinese bed and shaped like a part of the Xixia Dynasty's imperial crown.

The spa and pool, located in the basement and bounded in by low ceilings, provided the opportunity for some visual relief from the rest of the hotel and to create what Chiu calls, "an oasis within an oasis." The design team abandoned the rich colors of the lobby and guestrooms, and instead stuck to two kinds of stones and a restrained color palette to avoid creating much contrast.

"We placed a lot of emphasis on the lighting design of these spaces to create a tranquil and relaxing mood," says Chiu. "Instead of an active space, the pool was conceived as a meditative space and as a continuation of the treatment rooms in the spa."

At times lush and lively, and at others restrained and reflective, the Kempinski Hotel Yinchuan provides an aura of prestige to an area striving to become a player on the international stage. Whether in Yinchuan for the first or the 40th time, business travelers and tourists alike will surely find the hotel to be a welcome sanctuary on their journey.

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Weihai Shanhua Carpet | 3, 5, 8

Baumann Dekor

Beacon Hill Fabrics
(800) 333-3777


HBF Textiles
(828) 328-2064

J. Robert Scott
(877) 207-5130

Joanne Fabrics | 4
(800) 268-2050

Knoll | 12
(800) 343-5665

Larsen Textiles | 2
(212) 647-6900

Luna Textiles

Maharam | 9, 11

Nya Nordiska

(212) 627-7766

Spring Collection

Dedon | 1

Sengyuan Furniture Group | 2, 6, 9

Shanghai Tai Yi Enterprise Group

Moore & Giles, Inc.
(800) 737-0169

Townsend Leather | 6
(800) 852-0144

Chelsom Lighting

Diamond Life Lighting Manufacturing | 7, 10

Porta Romana
(305) 672-9958

wall coverings
Goodrich Global

Maya Romanoff
(773) 465-6909

Patty Madden


Sanitas Wallcovering

Sankon Limited

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kempinski hotel yinchuan
No. 160 Beijing Middle Rd.
Jinfeng District, 750002
Yinchuan, Ningxia


DiLeonardo International
2348 Post Rd.
Warwick, RI 02886
(401) 732-2900

Andrew Chiu, regional director/Asia Pacific
Lia DiLeonardo, principal
Drew LeClair, designer
Jose Olivares, project manager
Alex Ho, on-site project manager



Dennis Fung