Towards the end of the 19th century, every self-respecting city erected what it considered to be its biggest and best hotel. It was usually named Grand Hotel and was more often than not paid for out of the private pockets of wealthy barons. These hotels are often still in use today and have a charm that maybe only a century-old ideal of quality can give.
Today, such barons are rare and modern times do not allow an armada of Italian stucco carvers and French cabinet-makers to be called in. But is this why today’s boutique- and design hotels seldom succeed in creating a worthy equivalent to the atmosphere that pervades classic 19th century interiors? Could it be the difference in style ideals; Neoclassicism versus Modernism? Or is it something else that is being missed?
These were some of the thoughts we had concerning what sort of interior spaces we wanted to create at Nobis Hotel. Amongst other things we concluded that an uncompromising attitude together with a certain amount of eccentricity was necessary. No detail was less important than another. And matching is not about an ever-present, repeated furniture model or colour rather it is about a consolidated personal selection.
The entrance, lobby, lounge, corridors and rooms follow each other in a conscious succession where the character alters with every step. The extravagant Gold Bar, the French-inspired 24/7 bistro facing Norrmalmstorg, the Italian trattoria Caina on the floor below, the relax area entirely clad in marble and the conference section with its original wooden panelling preserved have each been given a distinctly different character.
Despite the differences in character, each space flows into the next so that the spatial context is strong. Most of the work lay in making openings and spaces between the entrance, lobby, bar and ’living room’ – the generous lounge. For example, the joist floor structure, an old addition to the original building, was completely removed in order to recreate the full height of the original inner courtyard.
The colour scheme and lighting design is also warm and subdued throughout. We call it Scandinavian dark blond. And as another recurring theme there are subtle patterns, in many cases derived from our own abstracted architectural drawings. Like the corridor carpeting and the wallpaper in the conference section. Or like the hand-milled wardrobe doors which sprang from the rooms’ curtain pattern. A pattern that is in turn a play with a plan of a gallery building in Kumla we had recently completed.
Apart from the fixed interior features like, for example, the reception desk in rusted and waxed solid shipping steel, a large number of new furniture designs, textiles and lamps have been developed specifically for the hotel. One hundred and seventy individual designs are included in the final assemblage. About twenty were uniquely designed by us for this hotel and seventy more are variations of our earlier designs.
Architecturally speaking, there are few more complex undertakings than a hotel. Our contribution to this project spanned approximately 20 months. During this time, besides continuous nursing, the general architectural concept was laid out, the planning and restructuring of the central communal areas around lobby, lounge and restaurants were made as well as the furnishing of 201 guest rooms of which there are 115 variations.