Architectural lighting designers interested in hotel design might want to take a look at Otto Riewolt's book, New Hotel Design, published this year by Watson-Guptill Publications in New York City. Riewolt has worked in publishing, as well as curating exhibitions in collaboration with architects (Jean Novel and Philippe Starck among them), and consulting for European design firms. His handsome 240-page book is rich with photographs and provides an intriguing armchair tour of 40 varied hotels around the world.
Riewolt begins with the contention that hotel design has evolved enormously in recent years, with a strong rejection of a bland, corporate-style look. He proposes that run-of-the-mill rooms and boring public spaces have been replaced with a more exciting display of individualism and diversity, and identifies four main themes of new design as ascetic modernism, nostalgic opulence, extravagant fantasy, and exotic exclusivity.
Referred to as a “style bible” for architects and interior designers, the same could apply to lighting designers. Unfortunately, lighting is given short shrift in the book; lighting designers are not listed in the credit boxes for the hotels, although the lighting certainly enhances the photography. (A serious oversight on the part of Riewolt, I would think.)
From exteriors, such as the conversion of the 1907 Morning Post building in London into the posh One Aldwych hotel, to bedrooms, bathrooms, and lobby areas, restaurants, and bars, the book covers hotels around the world, representing the work of the top cadre of international architects working in the hospitality field.
The chapters are divided by style, including designer and art hotels, business hotels, grand hotels, resort and entertainment hotels, and hideaway and spa hotels. In the designer and art category a real stand-out is the Sanderson, also in London, with interior design by Philippe Starck. The decor is positively theatrical, with a mix of styles and finishes including chairs with swans, over-long sofas, and barstools with eyes on the back.
The final entry in the hideaway and spa category is my favorite: the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. Arne Bergh and Ake Larsson are credited with the architecture and interior design of a hotel that only lasts until spring. The hotel is actually made of ice and guests sleep in arctic sleeping bags (those afraid of sub-freezing temperatures can sleep in wooden cabins next door). In the spring when temperatures rise, the hotel simply melts away. Like all theatrical decor, this one is also ethereal. But once again, the lighting twinkles in the frozen interiors, proving that even a temporary architectural installation needs good lighting to be successful. Hopefully Riewolt will take notice for next time.