Talking Design: Hilary Lancaster Fusion Interiors Group

Boutique Hotel News talks to Hilary Lancaster about her latest project, the Urban Lodge Hotel in Amsterdam.

• It’s quite unusual for one agency to come up with the name, the branding and the interiors for a new hotel. What challenges and opportunities did this present, and how open was the property owner to using your company as a one-stop shop?

“We have always done naming and branding for our food and beverage, and retail clients alongside the interiors so for us this was a natural part of the project that we of course proposed to the client as it was in our expertise. The opportunity was to be able to fully integrate a design narrative from the very start of the project giving the client something unique. The client could see the advantage of having one designer work on both for this reason. This is why we always prefer to do both together if there is the opportunity. It’s our way of adding value and giving something most traditional hotel design studio’s don’t offer.”

• Urban Lodge Hotel is set in a converted office building. What were the biggest challenges in changing the feel from an office in to a welcoming hospitable space?

“The exterior is still an obvious looking office which we thought would be a problem initially. However we realised that if the exterior and interior were completely contrasting this could bring a real wow factor for the guests. Using a lot of warm wood really helped bring in that contrast and the fireplace, seen from the entrance, is an immediately inviting and relaxing element you would rarely see in an office! We just decided to totally ignore that it was an office and the ‘lodge’ part of the concept really helped this.”

• The juxtaposition of organic reclaimed wood and industrial concrete is an interesting contrast – what was the thinking behind this?

“The contrasts were created by the concept of an urban feel mixed with a lodge feel. It was intentional that some of the spaces were a mix of the two and other spaces were more ‘urban’ or more ‘lodge’. Even in the guestrooms we contrasted wood floors with concrete floors and had a concrete effect wallpaper to continue this separation. It also created a way of breaking up the larger rooms into an entrance space which was concrete and the main part of the room which was all wood.”

• Where else did you draw design inspiration from for this project?

“Inspiration came from the farmland that used to exist around the site. It also came from the traditional Delft blue and white pottery which guided our choice of accent colour that we used in different ways throughout the hotel – such as the artwork in the rooms, the blue and white tiles in bathrooms, the blue carpet corridors, the blue bar and the blue accents in the restaurant. The simple Dutch aesthetic was also an inspiration.”

• What other hotel projects are you working on?

“We are working on a 22,500 square metre resort with a very well known operator, and a 25-room boutique hotel in Amsterdam city centre by the same client as the Urban Lodge Hotel. We are also working on two hotels in London both still in the concept stages – a 300-room pod windowless hotel and a 50-room luxury wellness and spa hotel. Our extensive three-year renovation project for the Ascott Group in Barcelona – Citadines Ramblas (the only Citadines in Spain) will be launching in the Autumn 2016.”

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