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Headshot of Saar Zafrir

5 minutes with: Interior designer Saar Zafrir

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
5 minutes with: Interior designer Saar Zafrir

Amsterdam-based interior designer Saar Zafrir joins editor Hamish Kilburn to discuss his latest project to redesign The ReMIX Hotel in paris as well as his wider mission to ’boutique-ify’ large corporate hotels…

Headshot of Saar Zafrir

2012 was a pivotal year for Saar Zafrir, who changed lanes from a 12-year career in finance to take a year off. The next 12 months prepared him to ‘get into the game’, taught by his own passion to become an interior design, at first starting small with friends and family but soon being offered a pathway into the hotel design arena. With a new focus on hospitality and F&B design, Zafrir’s approach was born; to transforming established corporate-style hotels and hospitality groups into fun and lively boutique brands that speak loudly to the growing demands of the modern traveller.

A rich narrative told in the interior design inside Sir Savigny Berlin

Image credit: Sir Savigny Berlin

In fact, in less than a decade, the designer has catapulted himself as a unique creative and developer of hospitality projects throughout Europe, including the award-winning Brown Beach House Croatia (a former tobacco processing plant on the Dalmatian Coastline of Croatia, transformed into a signature Brown Hotels property) as well as Max Brown HotelsSir Savigny Berlin and Gekko Group’s Provocateur Berlin Hotel.

Image credit: Provocateur Berlin Hotel

Through savvy attention to detail, Zafrir creates more than simply beautiful spaces. His work gives spaces a second life, thus generating a new audience that can optimise revenues for hotel chains. The latest example is The ReMix Hotel in Paris., a new hotel that was slated to officially open this month located in Paris’ 19th arrondissement and a longtime property of Schroder’s Group. 

Schroder’s hired Zafrir to develop a new brand to revamp the pre-existing 259-key hotel property in Paris’ Parc of La Villette. With a colourful and eclectic design influenced by the retro and abstract flair of the 1980’s, The ReMIX Hotel is a far pivot from the previous concept behind the original Schroder’s property. Inspired by the 1980’s pop song ‘Forever Young,’ Zafrir has worked to reminisce the essence of the 80’s tune into a modern day design style. The result is a playful yet sophisticated atmosphere with vivid colours, mix of patterns and textures and custom-made furnishings. The ReMIX Hotel will be an anchor for drawing in new breaths of culture, art, entertainment and dining in Paris’ 19th arrondissement.

A bold bar with green and gold explored in the interior design

Image caption: Interior designer Saar Zafrir explored a distinct, loud ’80s interior design theme when redesigning the F&B areas inside The ReMIX Hotel in Paris. | Image credit: Marvin Gang

 

Hamish Kilburn: First things first, what inspired your career change from finance to enter the hotel design landscape?

Saar Zafrir: After 12 years within the capital world, I decided to take a year off. I used my shares to buy an apartment in Tel Aviv. During my year off, I decided to work on design and renovation. Whilst getting familiar with design, I taught myself how to use Sketchup, AutoCAD and congeneric software and I totally fell for it. The design was so brilliant that I began to design for both my family and friends. Two years later I bought partnership within the hotel industry and I sold my apartment. That’s how I got into the game.’’

HK: You’ve become known for modernising corporate-style hotels into fresh new brands. Is there any transformation project that you’re specifically proud of?

SZ: “Yes, ReMIX. ReMIX used to be an extremely dull cooperate hotel. We managed to transform it into a very exciting, fascinating hotel people love to visit, even just to take pictures.’’

QUICK-FIRE ROUND

HK: What is one trend that you wish will never return?
SZ: Terrazzo, for sure.

HK: What items during lockdown could you not have lived without?
SZ: “I would say both my oven and stove. I can’t choose.’’ 

HK: What makes a good design team?
SZ:
“Working together as a team to inspire each other along the way.’’ 

HK: Who is your interior design hero?
SZ: “Philippe Starck! He was the first to create something that really went out of the box.

HK: Tell me about the concept for your latest project: The ReMIX Hotel in Paris.

SZ: “The client presented us a very large building that needed total renovation. The building was built in the 80’s.

I had always dreamt of designing a hotel 80’s themed. I have always been a fan of the song ‘’Forever Young’’ by Alphaville. The design pitch was shared with the client and the investors of the project and they liked the idea very much. We wanted to bring back the 80s with the roller-skates, the pop, the neon and the rubiscos. The initial idea was to not just open one ReMIX hotel but more of them.’’

HK: What challenges did you face with this project?

SZ: The big challenge was to transform a very old and dull building into something that’s very exciting to look at. It has also been a challenge to convince the client of our initial design. Additionally, we were tied to a very tight budget. It has been a challenge to meet the client’s needs whilst taking the budget into consideration.’’ 

Image caption: a clever seating/bed in a guestroom inside The ReMIX Hotel in Paris. | Image credit: Marvin Gang

Image caption: a clever seating/bed in a guestroom inside The ReMIX Hotel in Paris. | Image credit: Marvin Gang

HK: Finally, can you tell me about some exciting projects you have in the pipeline?

SZ: “Yes, so we created a new brand called Cardo. Cardo is an autograph collection. It will appear in Rome (640 rooms), Paris (300 rooms) and Brussels (540 rooms). Cardo is a cooperate hotel that is characterised by super cool brands, an amazing F&B concept and Spa. I am convinced that it will soon become an evolutionary concept within the hospitality industry.’’

Main image credit: Saar Zafrir

THE BRIT LIST 2019: Nominations are open and FREE to apply

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
THE BRIT LIST 2019: Nominations are open and FREE to apply

FREE TO APPLY: Nominations for The Brit List 2019, which are NOW OPEN, will close on August 9… 

The Brit List 2019 is back, once again launching its nationwide search to find Britain’s leading interior designers, hoteliers and architects. Nominations are now open and, what’s more, the process in which to apply for The Brit List 2019 remains completely free.

Simply click here to apply/nominate.

Following popular demand, this year’s awards will also include a dedicated supplier category with the aim to recognise, celebrate and support British manufacturers.

Once all nominations have been received by the closing date of August 9, the judging panel – made up of figures from across the hospitality, design and architecture sectors – will select the final 75 most inspirational and influential people in British design, hotels and architecture, as well as selecting this year’s individual winners of the following awards:

  • Interior Designer of the Year
  • Architect of the Year
  • Hotelier of the Year
  • Best in Tech
  • The Eco Award 
  • Best in British Product Design – NEW CATEGORY FOR 2019
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry

“We have, yet again, deliberately kept nominations for The Brit List 2019 free for all to apply in order to maintain a fair opportunity for all designers, hoteliers, architects and suppliers who believe they deserve to be profiled in The Brit List 2019,” – Hamish Kilburn, editor of Hotel Designs.

On November 21, the shortlisted finalists of designers, hoteliers, architects as well as key suppliers to the industry will gather at Patch East, London where The Brit List 2019 will be unveiled along with the individual winners . “We have, yet again, deliberately kept nominations for The Brit List 2019 free for all to apply in order to maintain a fair opportunity for all designers, hoteliers, architects and suppliers who believe they deserve to be profiled in The Brit List 2019,” explains Hamish Kilburn, editor of Hotel Designs. “As a judge, I am personally looking forward to leading another nationwide search in order to find and platform exceptional creative thinkers who are operating or manufacturing in Britain today.” Patch East, London is a fabulous venue for our non-traditional awards ceremony, and we look forward to welcoming the industry’s finest for a night of celebration and high-profile networking.”

Early-bird tickets for the award ceremony are now available to purchase: 

Suppliers: £99 + VAT (£150 + VAT after early bird offer expires after August 4)
Designers, hoteliers, developers and architects: £10 + VAT (£20 + VAT after early bird offer expires after August 4)

Please click here if you are a supplier to the industry to secure your ticket NOW!

Please click here if you are either a designer, hotelier, developer or architect and secure your ticket NOW!

The judges for The Brit List 2019

Last year’s winners of The Brit List, who were crowned at an exclusive drinks evening in London, included Martin Brudnizki from Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, Conor O’Leary from Gleneagles and Robin Sheppard from Bespoke hotels, among many others.

Please note that there is NO FEE to nominate and/or apply for The Brit List 2019. 

Headline Partner: Crosswater

Event Partner: Hamilton Litestat:

Industry Partner: BIID:

SPOTLIGHT ON: 10 inspirational hotel bars and restaurants

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
SPOTLIGHT ON: 10 inspirational hotel bars and restaurants

To kickstart our Spotlight On topic of Bars & Restaurants, Hotel Designs has scoured the globe to highlight hotel F&B gems that deserve to be recognised. Editor Hamish Kilburn edits…

In 2018, according to Technomic, overall consumer spending for hotel food and beverage showed a solid 5.5 percent annual growth since 2011. In design, architecture and in service, there is a clear move to produce instagrammable F&B areas.

While the overall dining and drinking experience is becoming somewhat of a theatrical performance, we have identified 10 hotels going above and beyond – in both design and service – to ensure that they are entertaining their customers’ ever-evolving demands.

Joali – Mura Bar (Maldives)

Beach blue wallcovering with wooden roof

Image credit: Joali – Mura Bar

Overlooking a pearly beach and pool that meets the sea, The Mura Bar is designed to encourage guests to naturally relax and unwind. The hotel’s entire construction was designed to build around its natural landscape. As a result, 1,000 trees were preserved in the process, creating luscious green scenes in a natural paradise.

Gleneagles – The American Bar (Scotland)

close up of plush light blue seating

Image credit: Gleneagles

With the aim to bring back the glamour and decadence of fine dining experiences of the 1920s and ’30s and redesign a legend, Gleneagles will in May 2019 unveil the relaunch of its famous restaurant, The Strathearn following a design transformation by Ennismore Design Studio.

Conrad Malives Ranhgali Island – Ithaa Undersea Restaurant (The Maldives)

The awarding winning underwater Ithaa sits five metres below the surface, offering 180-degree panoramic views of the vibrant coral gardens surrounding it. Ithaa (meaning ‘mother of pearl’ in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi) serves contemporary European cuisine in a six-course set dinner menu.

Since its opening in 2015, the restaurant has become an Instagram sensation and its popularity led to the concept of opening the world’s first underwater hotel suite.

Hotel Gotham, Manchester – Club Brass (United Kingdom)

Image credit: Hotel Gotham

Poised to become the backdrop of Hotel Designs’ Meet Up North, Manchester’s Hotel Gotham, which opened in 2015 – read full review here, has been a major catalyst that has crowned the northern metropolis a major hot spot for hotel design and development. The jewel within the crown is located on the rooftop, at Club Brass.

Leading designers, architects, hoteliers and key-industry suppliers are expected to gather at the hotel’s exclusive members-only rooftop bar, Club Brass, for drinks and canapés above the city on July 1 for Meet Up North. Click here to purchase your exclusive ticket

Peninsula Paris – The Rooftop Bar (France)

Paris rooftop bar with curved windows overlooking a model plane

Image credit: Peninsula Hotels

Located on the sixth floor of The Peninsula Paris – and offering unparalleled views over the city – sits L’Oiseau Blanc, one of the most elegant and singular restaurants in Paris. The aviation-themed interior celebrates flying aces Charles Nungesser and François Coli who attempted to cross the Atlantic in 1927 from Le Bourget.

The Moxy, Chelsea (USA)

Dark-lit, open-planned room with lavish bar

Image caption/credit: The Fleur Room | Moxy Hotels/ Marriott International

Located on the 35th floor, the intimate rooftop bar, The Fleur Room, is open to hotel guests and locals alike. The alluring glow of light and color birth a heightened space of intimacy and mystery. The sofa material is embedded with a floral design and the bronzed furniture surfaces are smooth and polished. “Sink back into the comfortable couches and let your eyes settle on an incredible view of one of New York’s most recognizable charms – the Empire State building,” suggests journalist Hannah Kaplan who checked in to review the the kid on the block for Hotel Designs last week. Read the full review of the hotel here.

Soho House Istanbul – Club Bar (Turkey)

Refined interiors in a modern bar that is sheltered in a heritage building with bold lighting

Image credit: Soho House Istanbul, Club Bar

Sheltered within a striking 19th century mansion, which was originally designed for a Genoese merchant before becoming the US embassy for most of the 20th century. The Club Bar  is an oasis of calm, featuring decadent wallcoverings that are balanced with plush bar seating and thoughfully designed break-out areas.

Zuri Zanzibar – The Upendo Restaurant (Tanzania)

Sustainable materials - including furniture and lighting - make up the raw and rustic restaurant

Image credit: Zuri Zanzibar

Designed by Jestico + Whiles, the eco hotel’s Upendo Restaurant overlooks the entire resort. The restaurant’s laid-back Zanzibari style and live cooking shows make it the ideal place for breakfast and dinner, whilst its separate deck is ideal for private events or larger dinner groups. Peponi bar in the Zuri Zanzibar offers comfortable benches and sofas for a peaceful and relaxing ambiance.

Raffles – The Long Bar (Singapore)

Exterior of the hotel

Image credit: Raffles

Redesigned by Alexandra Champalimaud, the earthy decor of the two-storey Long Bar which will reopen this summer is inspired by Malayan life in the 1920s. The deep, rich colours and lush greenery transport patrons to the edge of a tropical plantation. In keeping with the relaxed atmosphere, guests are invited to brush peanut shells off the table and bar counter to the floor. In addition, and arguably thus making the hotel one of the early innovators for encouraging bar theatre, The Long Bar is quite possibly the only place in Singapore where littering is encouraged.

The Morpheus (China)

The sky bar, with sophisticated gold barriers between tables

Image credit: Melco Resorts & Entertainment

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, Yí on the 21st-floor Sky Bridge at The Morpheus takes fine dining to new heights with a unique blend of regional Chinese cuisine served in tasting menu format. Yí is the first Chinese restaurant in Macau offering daily multi-course tasting menus.

Main image credit: Moxy Chelsea, New York

From Concept to Completion: Restoring a 19th-century house to create Plaza 18 (part one)

800 501 Hamish Kilburn

Hotel Designs has vowed to follow interior designer Nicky Dobree as she works towards opening the soulfully restored doors of Plaza 18. In the first article in the series, Hamish Kilburn exclusively catches up with Dobree to establish the plans for her first hotel project… 

Up until now, Nicky Dobree has been known and celebrated for her talent in restoring luxury ski chalets, villas and contemporary residential interiors. In 2003, her first chalet conversion, a 300 year old alpine farmhouse, was followed by Grand Designs Abroad and described by presenter Kevin McCloud as the “ultimate James Bond pad” and in so doing set a new benchmark for chalet design. Moving on from 007’s ideal alpine bachelor estate, Dobree has recently turned her attention to the luxury hotel design scene – in particular to one building in Andalucía.

Inspired by the classicism of a heritage building and the surrounding Spanish region of Andalucía, Plaza 18 has become one of the most anticipated openings this year. Set in the historic white town of Vejer de la Frontera (Vejer), featured on forbes.com, the hotel which will shelter just six luxurious, individually designed bedrooms is the conversion of a listed 19th Century merchant’s house. The project, a collaboration between Dobree and Vejer’s principal hotel La Casa del Califa, is expected to turn one of Vejer’s landmark properties into one of the finest boutique hotels in Andalucía.

“There will be comfort and elegance through every door.”

The building, which dates from 1896 and stands on the foundations of an ancient 13th C Arab house, is being restored using entirely organic building materials including traditional lime-based mortars, wooden floors and natural stone and marble. “There will be comfort and elegance through every door, a place to feel at home, a place to re-connect and re-discover,” says Dobree who describes her first hotel project as a home hotel’. “There is no one dominant material,” adds Dobree. “I have retained the existing black and white Andalucian tiles and mixed them with timber and stone. Large black doors with bespoke feature brass handles open onto the six individual bedroom suites, each of which has been personally curated.”

“There are many challenges, but over and above the planning constraints, the space is disproportionate.”

With the design world watching, and with just six bedrooms to play with, this project has been quite something, “There are many challenges, but over and above the planning constraints, the space is disproportionate,” explains Dobree. “It has a huge central patio and elegant sweeping staircase leading to an amazing roof terrace that overlooks the castle with views across to Morocco. It has meant that we have had to be creative with planning the space for the individual guest suites.”

I have come to the conclusion that hotels are only at the edge of the curve when they bravely break the mould of what is considered, at the time, as being conventional. It is therefore a relief to hear that Dobree is planning on ‘Breaking the rules’ – her words not mine – in order to create this timeless, luxury hotel. “I want to add layers of soft furnishings to create a home,” she explains. “But above all, I want the hotel to be true to its heritage and I want it to retain its soul.” To do this, Dobree has worked to retain and repair original features using local craftsmen to restore the glass ceiling, stairs, balustrade and even the wrought iron gate. “I see myself very much as a curator of the building whilst making it comfortable for living in today,” she adds.

Quick-fire round

Hamish Kilburn: What’s your favourite colour this season?
Nicky Dobree: Burgundy

HK: Where’s next on your travel bucket list?
ND: Lebanon

HK: What’s worse, bad lighting or bad wallpaper?
ND: Bad lighting

HK: What is one item you cannot travel without?
ND: An Adaptor

HK: Can you give us one easy way to brighten up your interiors?
ND: With cushions

HK: What’s the largest misconception about you? 
NB: That I am an extrovert

 

“As with everything, it is all about timing,” Dobree says when I question her as to why she has waited until now to commit herself to the venture and step into hotel design. “I have wanted to design a boutique hotel for a while and was fortunate when this opportunity arose that we were able to embrace it.”

As I learn more about the awaited Andalucían jewel, I can’t help but wonder how similar this hotel will be from some of Dobree’s previous projects. “There are similarities, Plaza 18 is all about elegance and comfort, using the local vernacular in the design and celebrating the local culture,” Dobree explains. “It is what I endeavour to achieve in all my projects.”

And with that, Dobree’s task continues as she prepares to enter a new design chapter in her already celebrated career.