As the winners of the 2014 Design is … Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog which will last a year. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 40 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.
Iris Rubinger of Design Space talked to us about the hotel’s artistic concept, Amsterdam’s city life inspiration and letting creativity run wild.
Describe the project in one word.
How does this project demonstrate the power of design to impact users in a space?
The Art’otel is designed to be an interactive project that offers the guests unique hospitality and an artistic experience. We wanted to give the guests a chance to take part in the art and the design and not just to view it from the side. One example is the interactive art feature that we located on the main floor. Two large silicone cord screens (13.5 x 6.5 meters each) were mounted on both sides of the main staircase that lead from the public floor to the gallery level, allowing the art to be seen from all the public areas. The content of the video-art that projected on the silicone cords curtains changes, in real-time, according to the movement of people around. This allows the guests to influence the art and the space.
The artistic environment in every corner of this hotel impacts the users and affects their senses. From the head shaped sculptured reception counters that you see when you first step into the hotel, until the manifesto that is printed on the carpets in the guest rooms.
We used custom designed elements in each space in order to stimulate the senses. A central open kitchen that faces both the restaurant and the bar expose the art of cooking. It gives the guests a chance to experience the cooking process before receiving the great dishes. The open kitchen and the fireplace wall, that define the restaurant area, were designed with the intention to feel like a laced light box. Its external walls are made from bronzed patterned steel plates and positioned between two lit glass surfaces. Both elements display flames or fire and create a warm environment.
The art gallery was designed to be a multi-purpose space that can fit various events such as, art expeditions, fashion shows, music and parties. Although it located in the lower level, while the other public spaces are located in the upper level, it is connected to it by the main staircase and the video-art feature. It invites the guests to participate in the events as part of their stay in the hotel or their visit is the restaurant- lounge.
Design is a process. Explain your journey.
The Art’otel is located in an existing historic building in the heart of Amsterdam. The interior was completely demolished. Just the pillars remained. So the first challenge was to create floors layouts that will maximize the rooms’ area within the existing situation.
The interiors of the rooms were made to fit the artistic concept of this hotel. The text on the carpets is the “Holstee Manifesto,” by the New-York based design team HOLSTEE. We made the graphics and adapted the colors to each space. The carpet itself is an art piece that was integrated with the general concept. In order to enlarge the space of the rooms, we planned the bathrooms with colored glass walls. Electric liquid films change the glass from transparent to opaque to ensure privacy and a ‘peekaboo’ feature.
The main floor and the gallery floor were full of structural pillars. We took this challenge and problematic space and used it to our advantage. Some of the pillars were hidden in the different functions, while others became design elements that divided and defined different areas.
The main challenge of the public spaces was to create the main art feature that will be the central element that all the activities will surround it. The objective was to create a dynamic and large scale art that could be integrated with and be seen from all the public spaces in the adjoining 5&33 lifestyle restaurant, bar and gallery area as well as when looking in from outside. We chose the form of Video-Art and pushed the media and technology limits, while using guest’s interaction as a unique spin. The video-art projected on two large silicone cord screens that were mounted on both sides of the main staircase that lead from the public floor to the gallery level, thus creating a circular flow. Overall, 16 projectors with special lenses were integrated with special software to project the video art content onto the screens. Special kinetic sensors are placed around the space to review the movement of people near the screens. Together with the sensors, the computer system is able to change the content, in real-time, according to the movement. This creates the largest permanent interactive art feature in Europe, allowing people to take part in the art and not just view it.
Inspired by Amsterdam’s city life and street art, we used concrete flooring for the public areas and located an open kitchen between the restaurant and the bar area. Large backlit curtains and a patterned fireplace soften the atmosphere, while creating semi-transparent dividers between the different areas.
The design process of this project was a journey through the heart and the art of Amsterdam, an exploration of new definitions for hospitality experiences for visitors and guests.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?
Follow your vision, look for creative ways to overcome challenges and always keep your mind open to new ideas.