Contemporary Furniture: Hotels in Europe put design center stage

When choosing furniture, designer Alexandre Lamont says, “Usually hotels are looking for something more impressive in terms of texture and perhaps larger in size.”

VAKKO Hotel & Residence is one of the newest hotels to open in Istanbul, located in the upscale Nisantasi neighborhood.

It feels like you’re staying in a design showroom – hallways are covered in sleek black marble, rooms have contemporary sculptures on display and the restaurant embodies chic Parisian bistro style.

This is Turkish fashion house VAKKO’s first hospitality project and joins the growing trend of design-led hotels where elegant furnishings and standalone interior pieces take center stage.

How is furniture designed for hotels?

Alexander Lamont is a British designer based in Bangkok known for his furniture, lighting collections, art and accessories.

Some of his best work has been used in prestigious hotels such as The Connaught, The Mandarin Oriental Doha and The Setai Miami beach hotel.

While he doesn’t design specifically for the hospitality sector, there may be a reason why his pieces are so popular there.

“It has to be well-made to stay strong over many years, and the materials have to be strong and natural to grow more beautiful over time,” says Lamont.

He uses materials such as parchment, mica, eggshell, lacquer, gold, oak, and bronze in his designs.

“I like to think I’m using the most beautiful materials in the world,” he says. “She is natural and has a liveliness in her personality and an austerity or glow that is shaped by the processes with which she works.”

Bold and bright

When choosing furniture, “hotels typically look for something more impressive in terms of texture and perhaps larger in size,” says Lamont.

The Four Seasons Hotel in Madrid, which opened in 2021, is a prime example of this. The foyer is decorated with a giant whimsical KAWS sculpture of two black cartoon mice while a shimmering gold dot installation enlivens the stairwell.

The hotel has commissioned nearly 1,500 works in total, which appear in the restaurant and all rooms, from young Spanish artists.

The unique design pieces give a hotel feel and a strong sense of place. “Hotels want to create human environments that are all about quality and refinement,” says Lamont.

“Our pieces are often chosen to have that warm, tactile vibe.”

For some hotels, one of their main attractions is their design. In Venice, Palazzina Grassi has a reputation as a rare treasure trove of design. The entire interior design was the vision of French industrial designer Philippe Starck.

Features oversized chess pieces, fantasy mirrors, and whimsical stained glass lighting from Murano.

Great budget hotel furniture

Custom hotel furniture and furnishings are mainly found in high-end hotels because budget plays a huge role.

Unfortunately, Lamont reports that some of his designs are copied when hotels don’t have the funds.

“Often Alexandre Lamont’s designs are chosen for projects, but as a project evolves, budgets shrink and our designs may be replaced with cheaper items or copied,” says the designer.

As such, Lamont has learned to work with those companies that value his designs and are committed to using original work.

“If we have a hotel client that we respect and he respects our work, we do very beautiful things together,” he says.

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