Elaborate patterns, sumptuous textures and rich colours vie for attention at Marcel Wanders’ fit out
With bedroom carpets like sculpted sand dunes and great swirls of patterned soft and hard flooring, Marcel Wanders’ Mondrian Doha hotel in Qatar is a delirious mix of pattern, colour and texture that is remarkable even by his maximalist standards.
The Dutch designer wanted to create a majestic environment with an element of fantasy and it’s clear that he has succeeded. This is an unforgettable interior that will have guests frantically sharing on social media. The only problem is what images to upload - the dramatic spiral black staircase? The lobby adorned with golden eggs and a bell like chandelier? Or perhaps the top floor pool hall beneath a Tiffany-inspired, stained glass dome?
‘We do want to make iconic interiors and iconic images that live on in the eyes of people,’ says Wanders. ‘We want it to be a place that speaks to them and surprises them and gives them an experience they’ll remember.’
The interior concept leads on from Wanders’ design of Mondrian South Beach hotel in Miami, which featured his customary use of outsize pattern and bold sculptural elements such as distinctive staircases and columns. In Doha, these are revisited and given a distinctly Middle Eastern flavour with references to sand dunes, starry skies, geometry and tiling and Arab miniatures. ‘If you’re in the Middle East world there’s a sense of story telling and a sense of wonder,’ he says. ‘The place has its own mood and you can capture that. Every night can be a new night with a new story.’
Wanders believes in telling stories through the treatment of surface and its interplay with pattern and depth, something he feels is sadly underused in the work of many designers. At Mondrian Doha, this includes the hugely varied treatment of flooring. This contributes much to the different moods created throughout the 270-bedroom hotel, which is operated by hospitality company sbe. Much of the flooring is bespoke, since, says Wanders, ‘we like design more than we like shopping’.
In the lobby, the supersized, black and white floor pattern is a key element of an immensely memorable first space to greet the guests. The design picks up on the big pillars and black and white flooring of the Miami hotel but this time adds a golden bell – a symbolic invitation to guests to come to the hotel – and a sprinkling of golden eggs on the columns . This references the architectural form of the building, by Doha practice South West Architecture, which has been likened to the shape of a falcon, a national symbol of Qatar. Rather than fading into the background, Wanders wanted the black and white floor to be a prominent ‘player’ in the design composition, so created a large florid pattern using laser-cut black and white glass tiles. These contrast merrily with the colourful mosaic tiling of the lift lobby walls.
A similar approach is used in the 27th floor pool hall, where the chequer board black and white tiled floor adds another strong element to an already spectacular room dominated by the coloured glass dome and the pool itself.
Similarly, the design of the ballroom carpet holds its own against considerable competition from the multitude of chandeliers, drapes and voluptuously-contoured columns in what at 1,820m² is the biggest ballroom in the region.
The hand-tufted carpet is patterned in a lush blend of four or five designs inspired by different parts of the world and was manufactured by a Turkish company. ‘The [designs] start to entwine and to have a conversation. That’s why it’s so wild, active and powerful. It has its own quality and richness,’ says Wanders.
Further richly patterned floral circular rugs are used in the lounge areas to delineate areas of comfortable seating and as a tactile warm contrast to the glacial qualities of the white tiled floor and, in the lobby lounge, an array of white ‘tree of life’ sculptures.
The atmosphere is much darker and more intimate in the Black Orchid nightclub. Here, what at first sight appears to be a soft patterned carpet turns out to be a robust dance floor.
Perhaps the nicest touch is in the bedrooms, where guests can run their bare toes through hand-tufted, sand-coloured carpets that have been custom ‘shaved’ to create the 3D contours of sand dunes. These were made by a Dubai-based company in a two year collaboration that began with the designers sending drawings of desert sand lines along with specification of the size and contours of the dune-effect required.
Wanders hopes that guests will be ‘surprised and excited’ wherever they go in the hotel and have a truly memorable experience. ‘True luxury is when you come back from the destination and you take the story with you – a story with content and meaning,’ he says.