Design & Lifestyle

 

Semiramis Hotel; By Karim Rashid

 
 

Since I first came across the NHOW Hotel in Berlin, designed by Karim Rashid, I keep looking for more hotels and projects he designs. I was lucky enough to meet Karim a few times in person; Twice in New York, (both in his old and new studios) and once in Tel Aviv, where he is currently designing a new hotel, planned to be opened in October. While I am hoping and planning to shoot the next hotel in Tel Aviv, I had the opportunity to stay it one of the first hotels he designed. The Semiramis Hotel located in one of the most affluent and leafy suburb in Athens, called Kifissia. I wish I had more time to stay in Kifissia and at Semiramis but I was on my way to Milos for a shoot. It is such a magical area that one of my close friends described it: ‘If I ever want to disappear for a little bit, I can easily go to Kifissia’. 

I arrived at the hotel on a Sunday afternoon after a long flight from New York in which I didn’t really have the chance to sleep. Regardless, I was anxious to walk around the colorful hotel and discover some of Karim’s signature designs and style.

When the description of the hotel goes like this..“Semiramis is what happens when you give a hot designer total control”…I need to see it in my own eyes and cameras

So let’s start with the Pool:

As a long time swimmer, I do tend to check out the swimming pools first when I check in to hotels. Even though the Semiramis pool is not a lap one, it was quite hard to ignore it. The pool is shaped in a fluid curved shape, typical to Karim Rashid’s style and colored in shades of turquoise and neon green. To complement Karim chose white sun-beds with pinkish color umbrellas, dotted with white. To be honest, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this pool. I tried to cover every angle. A mosaic dark blue fountain adds a decadent touch and border between the pool area and the area around the hotel.

The Facade:

Only by seeing the colors of the Sun terraces (Lime Green) I knew I arrived at one of Karim’s playgrounds. The facade is totally different to the Greek typical style, and this is what I actually love about Karim’s style. His designs are ALWAYS extraordinary. To enter the lobby I had to walk through a glowing pink glass cube and to be warmly welcomed by one of the staff, offering me a glass of sparkling water.

The YES Lobby:

As Semiramis is part of the YES! Hotels group, the Artwork ‘YES’ by Tim Noble and Sue Webster is definitely a great visual welcoming sign. The affirmative “YE$” sign presents the familiar dollar symbol in a bright display of shimmering lights flickering on and off before the viewer. I enjoyed watching this sign when I got back to Semiramis after an evening stroll in Kifissia. On a bright Pink wall the Artwork ‘VBGDW’ by Vanessa Beecroft is also a welcoming gesture. ‘VBGDW’ is a photo of Vanessa Beecroft’s wedding party in Portofino in September 2000. (Rumors say she is divorced now). The dark blue Wavelength Sofas designed by Karim, gave me a feeling as being under waves in the ocean.

The Bar and Dining Area: 

I just LOVE this bar and dining area. I felt as I was walking in one of the wings of a contemporary modern museum. And no wonder. Dakis Joannou, the hardworking owner of Yes! Hotels, is one of the foremost collectors of contemporary European art in Greece, and therefore is surrounding himself with objects that inspire him, from Art, Design and Architecture. I could spot two Artworks by Spencer Tunick, (The ‘New Vienna’ and ‘Krystl’) and the ‘Shutup’ Artwork by Michael Bevilacqua right above the seating area. On a Pink color carpet, Karim furnished the dining area with his signature Swing Chairs in addition to a lively lighting concept, especially commissioned from Focus Lighting in New York, under the direction of principal designer Paul Gregory. I love the Orange colored glass wall, which made a perfect dividing wall between the Bar and the Dining area. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really dine at Semiramis restaurant, as it was closed due to a private event. Well, it is a reason for me to go back…

Rooms:

Semiramis has three types of rooms; Standard rooms, 20 meters squared rooms overlooking the park of Kefalari. Queen bed and above bed- lighted murals offers a pop of color to the all-white feeling of tranquility of the room. The Superior rooms, 25 meters squared are overlooking either to the park or the great pool. (I was lucky enough to overlook the beautiful pool) and then there are The Pool Bungalows, 25 square meters, built as separate units alongside the pool and each bungalow has a King size bed  and a private small garden. I have stayed in one of the Superiors rooms overlooking the pool. I loved having a great afternoon light reflecting and glittering on my lime green terrace and watching the sunset over the hills around Kifissia. The hotel has its own sense of humor, which reflects well in the design; The rooms, for instance, don’t have numbers, but every floor has a color and each room has an icon. To find my room, I had to spot the icon across the hallway. Instead of the typical boring ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs, hanging on the door knobs, Karim decided to place electronic message boards at every room entrance, which guests can personalize from their in-room keyboards.

I’m really looking forward to see the next hotel designed by Karim Rashid, Sir Benjamin Hotel, coming soon in Tel Aviv.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Travel + Leisure; The World’s Greatest Hotels, 2014 Edition

 
 

Like every year, around April or May, the travel magazine, Travel +Leisure is publishing an annual book about the World’s Greatest Hotels. I was thrilled to participate in last year’s 2013 edition and shoot the Efendi Hotel in Acre, Israel. This year, for the 2014 edition, I was asked to shoot one of my favorite and colorful hotels in Tel Aviv, Alma Boutique Hotel. I was very happy to discover that one of the images made it

To see more images and a previous post about Alma Hotel, please click here.

In case you don’t have a chance to get the World’s Greatest Hotels’ book, here is the text about Alma;

‘To see what really makes Tel Aviv tick, head to the White City UNESCO World Heritage site, where design and architecture take center stage. Smack in the middle of it all, the Alma Hotel & Lounge has become the discerning traveler’s hotel of choice. Siblings Adi and Irit Strauss have created a patchwork of bohemian luxury in 15 airy rooms inspired by the 1920′s, each with bijou stained-glass windows and handwoven carpets. Yonatan Roshfeld, the chef behind nearby tapas hot spot Ahad Ha’am, lures Israeli socialites and Russian businessmen to the hotel’s namesake restaurant with Moroccan small plates (beets-topped raw beef kibbeh in sheep’s milk; lamb encrusted with red pepper, roasted garlic, thyme and sage). The artful menu perfectly complements the decor, which is lifted straight out of Paris’s Marais district; a smattering of jewel-toned chairs, checkered floors, and edgy contemporary artwork” 

 
 
 
 
 

Featured in Elle Decor US, May Issue

 
 

I am very honored and excited to have my debut image of Porto featured as the travel story opener in Elle Decor US, May Issue.

Beside Travel Magazines that inspire me, Elle Decor is an inspiration for everything that has to do with design. Quite often I get myself a copy of the magazine and dive into the homes and lives of others. Therefore, I was quite excited when the Photo Editor of Elle Decor has contacted me two months ago, asking me to share some images I took of Porto.

I visited Porto last February and spent a long weekend in that old mysterious and gothic city. I was quite lucky to experience so much in such a little time and get a sense of that city, which left me, of course, with the desire and curiosity to visit it again and experience it even more. (Hopefully during the Summer Season).

If my A Long Weekend in Porto post doesn’t convince you to book a flight or a vacation in this city, maybe the fact that Porto has just been selected as the Best European City for 2014, will do the trick.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

The Casa das Penhas Douradas Hotel

 
 

Case des Penhas

One of the favorite parts of my job is shooting well designed hotels in various locations in the World. I wish I could stay in most of them, but it is not always possible, for various reasons. But when I DO have the opportunity to be a guest in these hotels, it is sometimes hard for me to take off the Photographer hat and switch it with the guest’s one.

During my visit to Central Portugal I had a wonderful surprise. My beautiful host, Silvia, who by the way, knows almost everyone in Central Portugal, told me we were about to stay in Casa das Penhas Dourades. I googled the name out of curiosity and saw some pictures (of course) and Silvia just blinked with her eyes with excitement. I didn’t ask much questions as I like surprises, so I was not aware of how amazing this hotel was and the story behind it.

The story starts in the village of Manteigas, down the mountain hills of Serra da Estrela in Central Portugal, in what used to be an abandoned building of the old Imperio Wool Factory, and now it is known as The Burel FactoryThe factory is owned by Joao Tomas and Isabel Costa, who are also the owners of the hotel.

Joao and Isabel, a couple in business and life, found the building (originally from the 19th century) which used to be a wool factory but was going through a bankruptcy. They seized the opportunity and bought the company with the existing machines (some of them are also dated back to the 19th century) and turned it into what it is now, The Burel Factory.

They opened the factory in March 2013 and managed to combine the old tradition of machineries with the young and up to date designers and artists, who work with them on various wool projects. I was lucky enough to have a tour at the factory (which, by the way, there is a free guided tour every day, you just need to schedule) and even see Isabel herself cutting and stitching some wool samples. Isabel mentioned the importance and uniqueness in using traditional machinery and equipment, especially from times when the industry was mostly hand-crafted. With lots of thought and care, both she and her husband managed to keep the past, reinvent and adjust it to the current needs of the market, but also think globally and look for ways of exporting the products outside of Portugal.

When Silvia and I arrived to the factory it was already the end of the day and the end of the week so most of the workers have left already. It was only Isabel and a few women who were at the factory, finishing up a long week of preparing samples for an upcoming exhibit in London. While I watched her working and managing both the factory and the hotel through some phone calls, Isabel shared with me that the factory produces few kinds of wool fabrics; flannel, melton, hounds tooth pattern, tweeds, prince of whales, you name it.

I love the idea that Isabel and Joao have decided to work with various young and creative designers. I think it is quite unique and has that touch of collective thinking. Among the products I could spot colorful blankets, shawls, scarves, hand bags, hats, upholstery of furniture (hand made and hand stitched- I concur) most of them are used in the hotel Casa das Penhas Dourades, and also acoustic panels used in offices and public areas to reduce sound. Some of these colorful acoustic panels are well used in Microsoft Headquarters in Lisbon.

So…I saw the promo at the factory, and it was just about time to head up the hill and drive to the hotel, located at the top of Serra da Estrela Natural Park.  Na

By the time we got to the top of the hill and parked the car, it was pouring rain outside and all I wanted was to get indoors and feel the warmth of the hotel. And Warmth was an understatement. The hotel is located at an altitude of 1500m and surrounded by an extensive mountain landscape and an unspoiled Nature. Due to this special location, the hotel is influenced by its surrounding and ‘communicates’ well its designed concept;  Rediscovering the beauty in simple things, just as with Nature. This is why the Architect, Pedro Brígida, kept using natural materials such as cork and wood alongside vast raw concrete walls. The cosy atmosphere was in the warmth of the wooden panels, the rawness of the wool, the comfort and ease of the chairs, the softness of the curves throughout the hotel, all in a discreet luxury.

Since it rained non stop outside and got quite foggy, I was ‘forced’ to stay indoors and enjoy that fuzzy, cosy, homey feeling the hotel could easily offer.

The Living Rooms:

There are some living rooms in the hotel, all are birch paneled and furnished with wooden chairs with colorful wool patterns straight from The Burel Factory. Fire place in every room, wool stitched rugs (also made at the factory), shelves filled with books, colorful retro lamps and comfortable armchairs, all to give you that inviting feeling of a space where you can watch your favorite movie, read your book or just make you want to sip that warm chocolate drink while it is snowing or raining outside.

The Dining Room: 

This might be one of my favorite areas in the hotel as it was accessible for guests 24 hours. If you fancy a tea or a fresh cookie early in the morning before breakfast is served, you can find it on one of the tables, neatly displayed. I love the simplicity in the dining area, the comfortable chairs, the colorful watercolor pictures on the walls and the place-mats made of… well… wool of course.

The hotel’s chef consultant is Luís Baena, one of the most important and well known Portuguese chefs. Our dinner was a candle-lit dinner, quiet and relaxed even though the dining area was busy with other diners. The food is considered a gourmet cuisine, using local products for the various dishes.

The Rooms:

The hotel has 17 rooms and a suite. (I was honored to be hosted on that super suite). The rooms are also birch paneled (same as the rest of the hotel) and have large windows and terraces with deck chairs and footrests. The rooms are facing the breathtaking views of the mountains, and the suite has these great ceiling windows, allowing more light to come through. Unfortunately, when I was there, it rained very hard and I could only lie down on one of these straight sofas and stare at the rain outside, falling on the window. I took advantage of this rainy day and got myself into the nice bath, which is also located under a ceiling window.

The rooms are very comfortable and keep the warm atmosphere throughout the hotel; Each room has a duvet, down pillows, central heating, dressing gown and slippers, free wi-fi, DVD and iPod Players, fruit basket and water. And yes, the blankets, the rugs, the furniture fabrics, are all made of wool, hand made and hand stitched at the Burel Factory.

It is great to see the final product so handy and useful.

The SPA:

As a swimmer, all I can say is that I wish I had some extra time to use this beautiful interior heated swimming pool and enjoy the panoramic view of the mountains while swimming. Unfortunately, my schedule was quite tight and busy and I ended up only peaking through. Beside the pool, there is a sauna,  a Vichy shower and a SPA with several rituals and massages using oils infused with Serra da Estrela plants.

 
 
 
 
 

Karen Shavit’s Apt in Design Sponge

 
 

Few posts ago I wrote about The Life and Style of Karen Shavit, an entrepreneur and an inspiring Israeli woman, who I am happy to call a friend.

When I first visited Karen few months ago, it was when she just moved in to her new house in Emek Izrael, so I could only take pictures of her lovely kitchen. I told her that the moment she is settled, I would come again to shoot her entire house. I also promised her it would look great in Design Sponge, one if not the most leading Design and Lifestyle blogs. So when the opportunity arrived, I took a train to the North of Israel to visit Karen and spend some quality time with her. When I got in her house, it felt like Welcome to Wonder and Vintage Land. See for yourself.

I was so excited when Karen’s home was well received by Design Sponge’s readers. You can see and read more about Karen’s and her design choices, in Design Sponge Sneak Peek here.

Thank you Amy and Grace for the beautiful feature.

Here are some of my favorite images from Karen’s house.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Tel Aviv City Guide in Design Sponge

 
 

There is one thing to live in a city and another thing is to write about it.

Despite the fact I haven’t been living in Tel Aviv for twelve years now, my ‘Israelism’ grant me the title of a Tel Aviv expert among the readers abroad. I’ve been writing about Tel Aviv to EasyJet Blog, than a detailed article to Resource Magazine and my recent Tel Avivism article is Tel Aviv City Guide on DesignSponge.

I had to divide Tel Aviv to areas, such as The North and Tel Aviv Port, City Center, The Heart of Tel Aviv and the White City, The South part of the city and of course, Jaffa.

Here is a detailed list of restaurants, hotels, shops, studios and cultural locations in Tel Aviv, the city that never sleeps. Highly recommend to bookmark this list when you next travel to Tel Aviv.

Thanks Amy, Grace and Stephanie for this great opportunity.

Tel Aviv, CityGuide, DesignSponge, Lifestyle

 

 
 
 
 
 

Welcome to WasBar; Ghent, Flanders

 
 

WasBar, Cafe, Gent, Antwerp, Travel, Cafe, Flanders

Hey Ladies!

If you want to see young guys talking about laundry detergents or getting some folding tricks, head towards WasBar (available in Gent and Antwerp, Flanders)

WasBar is a winning concept of a launderette and a cafe, which is now getting a twist and raising its functional appeal with the addition of a hairdresser and a working space, all under one roof in a well designed space.

Here is a great clip that explains about the place and its concept.

The founders of WasBar are two young guys, Dries Henau and  Yuri Vandenbogaerde, both live in Gent, known as a University city, with lots of students who live in dorms or student apartments that sometimes lack the laundry machines. Dries and Yuri themselves, used to take their laundry to their mothers during the weekend, and I guess at a certain point they got tired of it. They asked themselves ‘What does the student want?’ They came out with the assumption that students want to spend their time more usefully and enjoy while waiting for the whirring machines.

So they decided to create a special place for that.

Their concept won a TV competition for young entrepreneurs (The flemish version of The Apprentice) and they opened the space in Gent on October 2012 and recently expanded to Antwerp.

Dries and Yuri pay attention for everything. They chose a young and hype design studio, PinkEye which created a suitable designed and colorful space for the students and the young professionals in Gent. I loved the graphic identity of the place; from a clothes-pin crossed with a bottle opener logo, to the pink-light blue and mint green color palette, not to mention that each laundry machine has a name! The laundry machines are named after women while the tumble dryers are named after men.

The space is opened till 10pm and there is no better thing than overhearing two young guys in their 20s discussing laundry matters.

WasBar, Antwerp, Gent, Flanders, cafe

WasBar, Antwerp, Gent, Flanders, cafe

WasBar, Antwerp, Gent, Flanders, cafe

 

 
 
 
 
 

CitizenM Hotel in Bankside, London

 
 

When I grow up I want to design a hotel…Yep, same like this one…the citizenM hotel in Bankside London.

I’ve heard about citizenM when I was visiting London on July. I was having a meeting and a portfolio review with WallPaper Magazine and in preparing myself to the meeting, I read the WallPaper Travel section and came across the citizenM post. The hotel happened to be located just across the street from WallPaper offices so I made sure to go and see the hotel with my own eyes.

Yes. I admit. I love Shapes and Colors. (and if you follow my blog for a while now, I’m sure you have probably noticed that) so no wonder I was drawn into the huge lobby of citizenM immediately and wandered its colorful labyrinth. Then I got to the working space area that really made me envy I wasn’t the one sitting there working on my computer.

Wandering the lobby, I’ve noticed the nonchalant atmosphere among the guests, who seemed to feel like it was their own living-room. I loved it!

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

Citizen M Hotel, London, Design Lifestyle

When I got back to New York, I had the pleasure of meeting Noreen Chadha, who is managing the up and coming citizenM in New York. Noreen was kind enough to share with me the story of the hotel chain and I’m so excited to share it with you.

It all started when Rattan Chadha, back then a textile tycoon and now the founder of citizenM, was always looking for a different kind of hotels while he was traveling for business. During his fashion days, Chadha had about 100 designers traveling all over the world, from London to Milan to Paris to New York, and they were always complaining about their hotels. These were cool creative people, and they wanted to stay in a hotel where they could connect with the brand and with the lifestyle. They wanted to have a drink at the bar and meet likeminded people. But they always ended up in a Holiday Inn or a Marriott, because of budget. This was a common frustration,  and it got Rattan thinking about a new opportunity. He got a team of people, all hospitality-connected, all frequent flyers and together they came up with a list of frustrations but also with some creative solutions and suggestions.

citizenM, The New Generation of Traveller 

Chadha and team realized the hospitality world is no longer divided into just two segments of travelers; The 5-start traveler or the Budget traveler. No. Nowadays travelers are mix and match and no longer boxed in one category; They might stay at different types of hotels for different trips, fly economy, take public transportation and yet, they want to dine in the hottest restaurant in town. They might wear Zara or Uniqlo but will also have a Rolex on their wrist.

The new generation of traveler is the citizenM (M is for Mobile). The citizenM traveler is a frequent traveler going to the major cities of the world, travels for work or pleasure or both. He is conscious about value, cares about quality, luxury and quite protective of his time. He doesn’t want to waste time, but wants things to be easy, efficient and friendly.

Once the mobile citizen profile was established, it was easier to figure out what does a citizenM traveler want from a hotel; The result was 5 main things:

* Lifestyle- ‘You are where you sleep’. When you walk into a hotel you want to connect with the vibe and the atmosphere. You want it to fit with your lifestyle. You also want to feel comfortable and at home. And when you are at home, you spend most of your time in your living room or your kitchen, and you mainly use your bedroom for sleeping. So this is what hotels should be like. Instead of a small lobby, citizenM Hotels; lobbies are built like oversized living rooms. All hotels are designed by Concrete,  Amsterdam, and the furniture are all by the Swiss luxury brand, Vitra.  Each hotel has contemporary Art that comes from the chain’s private Art collection and the chain has an in house stylist who travels all over the world, collecting authentic items to put in the hotels’ living rooms, so it really does feel like a home.

* Efficiency. Self check in and check out. You can be checked in within 60 seconds. citizenM likes working paperless, and most communication is via emails. Your room-key is an RFID card, that also doubles as a luggage tag and you can use it any time and at any hotel of citizenM. You can also use the room-key to pay for food and beverage.

* Luxury. Even though rooms are quite small, you will have a luxury sleeping experience thanks to the 2×2 meters beds with the custom made mattresses by Sealy, Italian linen and super fluffy pillows. The shower amenities are all designed by Alessandro Gualtieri who spent months perfecting the citizenAM and PM fragrance for the hotel chain.

* Technology should be simple, user friendly and has to work! All rooms run on a customizable ambient server. Each room has his own mood-pad (designed especially for citizenM by Samsung and Swisscom). The mood-pads are all one-touch, easy to use. You can change the color of the lighting, the intensity of the lights, temperature, different types of alarms (wake up gently by a woman counting down and the lights slowly turning on, or wildly with the lights on bright and the sound of pingpong balls or elephants thrashing through the room). There are no hidden costs in the room. So you can enjoy free WiFi, free movies on demand and free phone calls (run through VOIP).

* Genuine, human service. This might be one of the most important values of citizenM; Their Staff. The hotel doesn’t believe in segmenting people into functions or positions, and instead, the hotel trains its staff to be multi functional. The staff is citizenM’s brand ambassadors and they embody the typical mobile citizen themselves. Each and every one of them is trained as baristas to make you great coffee, as mixologists to shake you a perfect cocktail, but they can also check you in or out, help you in the room, and they know the city well so they can help with local tips and advice. Therefore, I was so amazed when the bartender who welcomed me also showed me the rooms and gave me a private tour.

Each staff member is purely hired on his/hers personality and those who are going to make you feel at home the moment you walk in the door. (Trust me, I am talking from my own experience). It doesn’t matter if they have tattoos or pink hair, as long as they are great and welcoming people who know their job.

citizenM hotel is all about affordable luxury, comfort and design. As a travel photographer, who is always looking for a great, comfortable and eye-catching design, I am curious and drawn to these kinds of hotels, such as citizenM.

Next time I’m traveling to London or Amsterdam,  you know where I will be staying, and you know I will be proud to be part of citizenM.

 

 
 
 
 
 

Karim Rashid in Style Magazine, Israel

 
 

I think almost every photographer and writer gets curious to find how their article will come out on print. Speaking for myself, I’m always eager to know how the editor will transfer my thoughts, words and images to the readers. I met Karim Rashid in the beginning of June and interviewed him both for my blog and for Style (Signon) Magazine in Israel. You can read more about how I met Karim or how did he find me here.

This is my interview with Karim, translated to Hebrew and published in Style magazine, Israel.

 
 
 
 
 

Real Men wear Pink; meet Karim Rashid

 
 

Karim Rashid, Design, Lifestyle

When I was writing my previous post about the Nhow Hotel in Berlin, I mentioned that I was always curious to know what does Karim Rashid eat for breakfast that fuels his ideas and inspiration. What I didn’t know was that a week after publishing this post, I would be sitting in Karim Rashid’s studio in Chelsea, asking him this question in person (!).

Apparently, I am not the only one who google-search her name. Karim Rashid does the same. He stumbled upon my blog and saw the pictures I took of Nhow Hotel and asked a permission to post them on his fan page. How could I refuse to such a flattering thing?

‘Don’t ask him why he wears Pink most of the time’ his lovely assistant Jessica advised me when I got to the studio. ‘It’s just because almost every journalist asks him that’, she smiled. I made a note to myself not to mention Pink clothes, but eventually, even though Karim was wearing all white, I used the Pink Clothes-thing just to break the ice.

‘Well, I believe that Real Men wear Pink’ Karim said, and in a way, he had a point. He sat on a yellow chair right under a painted portrait of his, while I was standing behind his pink (!) desk and pointed the camera at him.

As a photographer, when I am taking someone’s portrait, I always want to make that person feel comfortable and at ease (because it shows right away in the picture). Therefore, as much as I can sometimes get nervous myself, I always try to start with a small talk or a funny story to share. ‘So I really want to know what do you eat for breakfast’ I asked Karim, ‘Just to know what fuels your brain in the morning for inspiration’

‘Well, my breakfast is quite boring, I eat oatmeal and fruits, nothing special…But I get my inspiration from almost everything. Since I was a little kid I used to observe what was around me and constantly draw. The ability to look at things different than other people…you Sivan, are probably aware of it yourself  because you are a photographer’

So this is how the interview started…smooth with a mutual artist bonding and a clear understanding that we both look at things different. (note: part of the interview was done on the spot, some details were added afterwards via emails)

Karim Rashid, Design, Lifestyle

What is your approach when you design a hotel? With hotels I design from micro to macro (from the lamp to the bed to the interior to the architecture). I love the larger experiential impact a hotel can have on people lives. With hospitality design or public space, I know that masses of people have access to my designs, and they aren’t just looking at it, they are physically immersing themselves inside my concepts. As a designer you must learn to collaborate. As you can see, I try to experiment with every project. It is not the form that is primary -It is the idea, the concept. I work with the strengths of the client, with their vision and location.

How do you start a new project? I perpetually observe and analysis and dissect everything around me in our built environments. My discipline is to absorb everything I can about a particular subject, and then I sketch for hours developing ideas and most important I think about the human experience, about the social behavior of that particular scenario. Every project is different and usually the process is also. I fill sketch books weekly, and then I bring my designs back to the studio. My team creates 3D renders of my ideas, does research with me on materials, production processes, and then we refine the concepts based on all the plethora of criteria, be it social, economic, or technological issues until  my vision is realized.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I learned from a young age to be highly perceptive of our built environment. I drew constantly as a child and trained myself to see everything and to see what most people may not see. Hence when you see everything around you, then everything is inspiring and I become critical of every aspect of daily life. Also each project stems from its own inspiration. Nhow hotel Berlin was inspired by location, and by music. Berlin embodies the spirit of the underground, the dark school of electronic music, the harsh yet intellectual environment, the massiveness, and the desirous need for artistic pursuit. Semiramis was inspired by the sensual Greek Light – so romantic, so beautiful.

What is the difference in designing a hotel than any other building? I love the larger experiential impact a hotel can have on people lives. With hospitality design or public space, I know that masses of people have access to my designs, and they aren’t just looking at it, they are physically immersing themselves inside my concepts. With hotels I design from micro to macro (from the lamp to the bed to the interior to the architecture). Sometimes I design the name, the logo, and brand identity. Of course I cannot touch every experience with a condo, office, or other building and it is a longer more permeant relationship with the user. Also the interesting phenomena of hotels is that I believe one should have a temporary experience that they would never have anywhere else, so there is an opportunity to create a new inspiring experience, like theatre or entertainment, and to propel people into living in a space that stye would have never experienced at home or other places.

What are the next trends in hotel design? (in general) I prefer design that transcends fashionable trends and to work towards and searching for new vernaculars that echo out Technorganic digital world. Just the five major features of the perfect hotel –  a real contemporary well designed room that is seamless (perfect lighting, perfect comfort, etc), A heightened sensory experience, sustainable construction and operations, total seamless technology, nude sunbathing deck, and a really well considered and designed gym and spa.

Do you have  a favorite hotel you prefer to stay in? (not necessarily one you designed) I have stayed in so many hotels and few are really memorable. I do like Unique hotel in San Paolo – The round 2 meter porthole windows have this beautiful unconventional way of seeing the city from room view, like looking out of a big telescope, while the façade has of course some bizarre nautical semantic. The upside-down half pie clad in green copper (locally they refer to it as a watermelon slice) is really, well, unique. What is so fabulous is the end rooms have curved floors that ride up to infinity, giving this sense of nirvana. I feel like I am in heaven. The lobby is a phenomenal grandiloquent space, and the landscaping is reductive yet poetic. My friend Ruy Ohtake created a fantastic project. Hotel Unique also has a floating glass framed rooftop pool with breathtaking views of Sao Paulo.

What is your motto in life?  Globalove

What is your motto in work? I think my mantra is to inspire people through my design and my words

What drives you forward? (not necessarily work related) I have so many things I want to do like own a fashion clothing line, open an organic café, design a private house, design more buildings, design an electric car, etc.

Who and what inspires you? Is there someone in specific? Everything and everyone inspires me. I see beauty in everything!

What kind of advice will you give a young designer? Talent and hard work is the way to succeed.I learned that design is not about a form or shape, but it is a cultural critique, a cultural shaper, a faction of social, political, and economic life. Design is a lifetime experience so learn to learn, and work for others to get as many experiences as you can. Diligence and perseverance is a necessity.

Looking back at your career, would you do something different? I would have found my true self sooner.

If you weren’t a designer… what would you be? When I was a child I wanted to be a mathematician if I was not a designer, but now I would consider being a musician or a motivational speaker or a stand up comic – haha

What do you wish for yourself for the future? I have so much I want to do. I want to design an electric car, low-income housing, a museum, more hotels, art galleries, a fashion line under my name, an eyeglass line, a shoe line, etc. I think every artist, designer, always wants to contribute something to culture and make an original mark.

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