INTERIORS+DESIGN for architects

The European Hotel Design Awards winners were announced at London's Sleep Event 2012. The conference, held at the Business Design Centre in North London, brought together hoteliers, product and interior designers and experts from across the industry, to celebrate the best in hotel design. Sarah Roberts headed to Islington to discover what else the event had on offer.

Award Winners

The European Hotel Design Awards were judged over 12 categories that included: Lobby & Public Areas, Café, Bar Or All Day Dining, Restaurant, Bedrooms & Bathrooms, Suite and Spa, Health & Leisure Facilities.

The award ceremony was hosted by the BBC World News' presenter, Mishal Husain and held at the Park Plaza in Westminster, London on Tuesday evening.

Winners for the interior categories included Sur Mesure Par Thierry Marx , Mandarin Oriental, in Paris by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (Restaurant); the Beau-Rivage Palace, BaR, in Lausanne, Switzerland by Wilsdon Design Associates (Café, Bar or All Day Dining); and The Whitehall Penthouse Suite, at the Corinthia Hotel in London, England by GA Design International (Suite).

The European Hotel Design Of The Year Award: Best Of The Best was awarded to the Superbude St. Paul Hostel in Hamburg, Germany designed by Dreimeta. The project was seen to fulfil its brief on a relatively tight budget, implement a clever use of materials, and develop its own personality and design language.

Seminar Theatre

One of the highlights of the two-day event was the Sleep seminar program. The seminars covered a wide range of topics and gave designers a chance to speak directly to hotel owners, press and visitors alike about their latest projects and ideas.

We joined an exciting panel (Jenny Jones, Director at Conran, Architects and Interior Designers Rabih Hage and Martin Hulbert, and moderator, Mina Dowling, founder of Artefact Hotel Art Consultants) to discuss 'The Importance of Art in Hotel Design.'

Three distinct views on the topic began with Martin Hulbert's approach. Throughout Martin Hulbert's design, found objects, antiques and conceptual art pieces are used to compliment the natural environment and interior spaces of his projects.

At the 5* country club, The Grove, Hulbert has used a collection of antique keys as a wall feature. On another project at Coworth Park, a collection of copper saucepans forms an eclectic focal point in the kitchens.

Hulbert, who now lives on a farm in Sussex, is particularly influenced by place. As lead designer at Coworth Park, he used the bulrush, a plant indigenous to the local area, as a motif throughout the interior. Other nature-inspired art works, such as a life-sized tree sculpture and works by local artists, transform the hotel interior into a reflection of its external environment.

"Humour in art is particularly important in hotels to breakdown formal, stuffy and often overburdened interiors." - Martin Hulbert

Jenny Jones has practiced as an architect for over 15 years and is now a Director at Conran. Her approach to the use of art in hotel design involves three key considerations: narration, curation and interpretation, in response to the brief.

Many of the Conran projects she used as examples illustrated site-specific art collections that could be directly linked to the environment in which they were displayed.

Conran's recently completed South Place Hotel project in London showcases art works from the local Hoxton Art Gallery and Jealous Gallery in each of its 80 bedrooms.

"If there is a notion that art is an important part of the [design] concept there is always a way of making it work, whatever the budget." - Jenny Jones

However, she explained that to simply install an art collection in an interior is not productive.

"Hotel interiors should be public spaces that evolve along with the collections they house." An idea facilitated through events and tours of these buildings.

Architect and Interior Designer, Rabih Hage, described the importance of art in hotels as its ability to reflect what society deems to be intellectual, exclusive and therefore luxurious.

"We have gone from an accumulative, bling bling age into something more intellectual. Why not put an oil painting in a bathroom? Just drop a piece into a space to create an area totally disconnected from the outside world." - Rabih Hage

Hage's use of art extends outside of the picture frame and onto the walls of the hotel themselves. In his Rough Luxe Hotel project wallpaper was peeled away to exposed plaster walls as a feature, juxtaposed against floral Japanese prints and 1970s TV screens.

"Art is improvisation," Rabih explained. On a low budget images and murals can be used to replace furniture and create depth and atmosphere within a room. At the Radisson in Guildford he uses a photograph of a fireplace divided into a large six-square grid to create a feature within the hotel lobby. The 2D image converts the stark entrance room into a welcoming space.

"Every piece [of art] should have a story and bring soul into the space. It's not like an art gallery. When you walk into a hotel you should feel relaxed and be able to ask the story of each piece of art."

Seminar Moderator, Mina Dowling, founder of Artefact Hotel Art Consultants, concluded the debate by reiterating the question, "Why is art so important in hotel design?" To which Martin Hulbert succinctly answered, "there is a great need for hotels to be unique" and the inclusion of art makes this possible.

Sleep Hotel 2012 Best Room Design

In addition to the main awards and the exhibition hall, Sleep invited five designers to create a unique room for a 5* hotel. The designs were as follows:

Room One, entitled 'Cloud Nine', was designed by Bisset Adams and 8build was a futuristic environment of white and opaque walls. Using cutting edge technology, such as MagicGlass privacy screens, guests can personalise their hotel room for the duration of their stay.

Room Two: 'Classic Grandeur' by Shaun Clarkson ID is a warm and eclectic mix of styles, influenced by the designer's love of travel.

Room Three: 'Poetic Landscape' by Yasmine Mahmoudieh incorporated traditional design features with ecological materials to create a harmonious and calming interior.

Room Four: 'Shaded White' by Scott Brownrigg and Wilmott Dixon Interiors was a modern monotone room with distinctive neon features.

Room Five: 'Nous Bury' by NOUSE DESIGN and Overbury created a multi-functional and multi-level space using luxury materials and splashes of colour.

Scott Brownrigg was and Wilmott Dixon Interiors were announced as the winner of the Sleep Hotel 2012 Best Room Design award.

"Scott Brownrigg's approach to the Shaded White bedroom came from careful consideration of the brief and constraints of the 23 sq metre space. Such a small area posed a great challenge to achieving the luxury expected of a five-star hotel. The design firm has therefore been mindful to incorporate all aspects of the brief without compromising the spatial arrangement of the room," said event organisers UBM.