Eugenie, you've known Altstadt Vienna for a long time ...
In fact, I've been following Altstadt Vienna out of the corner of my eye for quite some time. Great things are happening here all the time. Especially the rooms by Matteo Thun attracted a lot of attention. The pictures were really very strong. At the time, I was impressed by how you can create an outstanding positioning on the market very quickly with such a coup. There was a lot of press and you could read out that the Hotel Altstadt is authentic and that what was written really happens. There is not just a nice room for the press and the rest is average. No, but there is really added value behind it, aesthetic and also hospitality value. Moreover, it is on my way to the office. So I pass it every day and I'm very pleased that this collaboration has come about.
What were the first steps for the concept development for this room?
The Specifications were rather… minimalistic. As a matter of fact, the room needed to stay timelessly classic, so not too fancy or pompous. Within these boundaries, I thought that we should stick to classic colours. Though I maybe interpreted these to be a bit more modern, so the deep red turned to a rather bright red, almost pink. The blue is not a deep blue anymore, but instead closer to petrol, the more ‘modern’ interpretation. The décor is reduced, is more essential, and everything you need in a hotel room is inside, nothing more. The decoration is also kept to a minimum, except for the finer details. This has left it as a classic room that will hopefully be timeless in its kind.
We also asked you to think about an interpretation of the Viennese lifestyle. And to bring it into your room. Can you tell us more about #57 and its Viennese traits of character?
The Viennese attitude to life is a bit of a laissez-faire story. It's not overly stylish now, so it doesn’t really show. It is something you only notice at a second glance. Only then will you realize that there is a lot more behind it. That there is a story to be told behind the details, which is often worth noting, and thus gives the Viennese style a certain touch of independence. It does not care about other people’s opinions, since it is already so old. Because of the fact that Vienna is rather a mix of different cultures, it is thus more effective to bring in different, or rather other forms of Design elements to it. To cut it short, it all blends in nicely together. To those who like it, it is beautiful, and for those that don’t, well, what can we do?
How does that express itself in the room, the furniture and in the materials?
As I worked on the room, I tried to stick mainly with Austrian as well as Viennese producers. The paint for example, comes from a small colour manufactory in the 6th District. They have special colour selection with funny Viennese names and are custom mixed and unique. One of their colours for example would be the ‘Augartenblue’ found in room 57. That is the blue found behind the bed, which I find especially beautiful. The two colours ‘Ringdove’ and ‘Danube Tower’ can also be found inside that room.
Also to be mentioned are the birds from Thomas Poganitsch. Each of his birds are hand made. This beautiful view into the distance is supposed to bring forth the idea of migratory birds traveling. Of course, this slightly playful and slightly quirky element matches the Viennese style, reminding one of a certain style of imperfection. The majority of the furniture is naturally custom made, especially this closet, it’s from a carpenter in Lower Austria.
We have invested a lot of time in order to make sure that it really fits. It actually is made out of one piece, and thus quite difficult to change single parts. The Beetle-Sofa, the table as well as the ceiling lights are from Gubi from Denmark. As well as the other lights from Louis Poulsen. These are classic and timeless items that will last because of their design. These pieces surely would still be bought in the next 20 years, if not the next 120 years.
Very often - at least to my mind - perfection is the enemy of cozyness. I find it interesting that you link a certain kind of Viennese imperfection to it's famous "Gemütlichkeit." What can you say about the colour concept?
Regarding the color concept, it was important for me that guests could wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and feel beautiful. And not “For God’s sake, I feel horrible.” It’s always better, when you have good lighting, and pink is a rather flattering color. It’s also important to note that there should be a certain contrast in the colors. That way the room gets more depth. Like this, the eyes can catch it, and orientate around it. Therefore, the blue triangle behind, where I also played around the idea of making a canopy. The room is too small to make a canopy made out of cloth, so we had to make it out of paint.
During the course of the design, it has changed from it’s rectangular design to look more like a triangle, as it made the room look like it was optically pulling upwards.
With around 20m², Room #57 is one of our smaller rooms. Are smaller spaces more difficult to design?
This room is indeed small. Here, the colour concept could be helpful. The colour grey is a nice counterpart to the sun during the summer, and during the winter, it optically extends the room outwards, since you can’t really differentiate what one can see inside and outside. It all becomes a bit blurry. All in all, I believe that’s it’s even more interesting to make a smaller room, as it is more difficult to design. You would have to discern as to what is really essential, and what not. Superfluous decoration doesn’t work, and isn’t really needed.
What does it need to have regarding functionality?
There is one thing that I cannot stand, though it’s rather personal. I cannot stand open bathrooms in rooms. No one can really explain to me how a toothbrush is supposed to be romantic. I think, that a private atmosphere is more important, which you can really only appreciate, once you don’t have it. It would be good for two to three days, but then you'd definitely be annoyed.
Otherwise, if there’s a lot of light, enough storage space… doesn’t really have to be big, but at least organised and of course I like it if there’s a lot of a nice things inside.
How much does one as a Designer bring from his personal living style to work, or do you distance yourself from it completely?
It’s a bit different. I believe that as a Designer you eventually get some sort of “Design-DNA” with time. Which you yourself don't really notice, but at some point one recognizes from whom and where it came from. My personal living style has grown and has taken years to develop. It’s diverse and reduced at the same time. With a couple of classic items mixed in. Every time I move, my House or Apartment would look very different. Since it depends on the location and the aura of the house or environment it emits. That’s how I also work concerning my designs.
So how should a Guest feel inside one of your rooms? Whom do you see inside it?
This wasn’t really planned, but I guess women will find it more attractive than men. I mean, both would feel comfortable in it, but I can imagine that women would choose it more often. This room has a rather unagitated attitude. I like an unemotional design, which is however present. I think of guests that are traveling rather light, as in someone that would concentrate on the essentials, enjoy the little things and appreciate finesse. Someone who likes it bright. This room is for someone who needs space with little room.
How did you come up with the idea of having a mirrored wall?
The mirror makes the room look optically bigger. And another wonderful benefit of it, is that you will see the nice view opposite the mirror. That’s how you bring the ‘outside’ inside the room and it brings in more light. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to have a little room look like a big room.
The mirror is directly in front of the bed…
Like Gregor Eichinger said: “ein Zimmer darf auch ein bisschen sexy sein.“ (A room can be a little sexy). Obviously, one can also just turn around, or not look at it.
Are you often in Hotels yourself?
In Vienna, I would very much like to stay at the Hotel Altstadt, since I prefer smaller, individual Hotels, rather than the corporate big ones. On the other hand I also like classic ones, like the Carlton. They’re great and worth seeing, with their awesome atmosphere. They’re there for a reason. But in general I prefer cozy and authentic places like the Altstadt Vienna.
Thank you for your time.