Gisela Williams -- Interior Design, 4/1/2010 12:00:00 AM
firms: ronan & erwan bouroullecandjordi tió arquitecte
"There's a surprise behind every corner." That's how Fernando Amat describes Germany's capital city. But he might very well be talking about his latest interiors project specifically. Casa Camper Berlin, the second hotel from the Spanish shoe company Camper, has opened on a prominent corner in the chic Mitte district.
Also the founder of Barcelona's top design emporium, Vinçon, Amat worked on the lobby and the 51 guest rooms at Casa Camper Berlin. Jordi Tió Arquitecte designed the eight-story zinc-clad building. "It's discreet during the day and surprising by night, when the zinc disappears and the windows float in the air," Jordi Tió says.
He and Amat collaborated on Barcelona's original Casa Camper, and they intentionally repeated several concepts and details in Berlin, for example the bedrooms' wall-mounted clothes racks, a typically Majorcan touch, and the bathrooms' innovative placement, along the window walls. However, the driving concept was "to look like Berlin," Amat says. "At least from our point of view."
Sense of place is conveyed most literally by the panoramic cityscape viewed from the top floor, where the lounge and self-service café allow guests to look over Berlin's rooftops while helping themselves to breakfast or the sandwiches, salads, shakes, and soft drinks served later. More symbolic are the street maps hanging in the 300-square-foot guest rooms—virtually all being identical. "The first thing I do when I arrive in a new city is try to understand where I am," Amat says. These maps, slightly simplified, stand out clearly against the crimson wall.
One focal wall in each room is surfaced in planks of a tropical hardwood called tauari, as is the floor. The wood theme continues with the bedside tables and the lounge chairs and ottomans. For contrast, the clothes racks and the task lamps are metal.
When guests draw the white curtains across the bathrooms' street-front windows, people passing by can see the huge black room numbers on the fabric. That's one of the ways the team subtly played on the quirky cultural traits of Berlin, a city where the most exclusive venues are often signless, hidden in courtyards or behind metal doors. Accordingly, Casa Camper avoids obvious signage while offering a few clues that the building is a hotel.
Huge windows flanking the main entrance showcase old-fashioned black Berlin street bicycles, perhaps increasing the ambiguity. Inside, the small, functional lobby is dominated by a U-shape reception station. Shell chairs by Charles and Ray Eames gather opposite.
Most of the ground level is occupied by the hotel's restaurant, Dos Palillos, by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. When Camper first approached the Bouroullecs with the project, they said no. They'd never done a restaurant before and personally prefer to avoid star-rated "designer" establishments. But then the brothers went to the original Dos Palillos, in Barcelona, and met the head chef, Ferran Adria's former chef de cuisine Albert Raurich. Suitably impressed by his Asian-Iberian fusion menu, they decided to take the project on.
At the Berlin outpost, a long wooden counter faces the stainless-steel open kitchen, allowing the 30 diners to be in a constant dialogue with the 10 chefs. "The kitchen is about 70 percent of the restaurant, which is the inverse of what's normal," Ronan Bouroullec says. And the sense of theater is only enhanced by the gold lamé hung across the window wall at the far end of the space. "The whole atmosphere is something of an artistic performance," he continues. He could very well be talking about Berlin.
Images courtesy of Camper.
CRÉATION BAUMANN: CURTAINS (GUEST ROOMS).
INTERNATIONALES PARKETT CENTRUM: FLOORING.
BERKER: LIGHT SWITCH.
FLOS: HANGING LAMPS.
MAGIS: CHAIRS (RESTAURANT), STOOL (BATHROOM).
DURAVIT: SINK (BATHROOM).
HANSGROHE: SINK FITTINGS.
ERCO: LIGHTING CONSULTANT.
INGENIEURBÜRO GRIGORIJ KRISTAL: STRUCTURAL ENGINEER.
GRAICHEN BAU- UND MÖBELWERKSTÄTTEN: WOODWORK.