Two mosaic tiles in ochre and rosé: Room #10 and #12
Elfrid Wimmer-Repp is part of the Altstadt Vienna since its early days. Both as a guest and as a designer. As early as 2006, she was on site for Matteo Thun as the architect in charge of designing eight rooms and one suite. In 2018 we brought her back, this time as a creative head, and asked her to rethink two rooms. The architect talks about her inspiration and idea behind the two new room creations #10 and #12.
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You can read the whole interview after the pictures.
A chat with Elfrid Wimmer-Repp
Elfrid, you're an Altstadt Vienna veteran. How did the first cooperation come about?
I wanted to ask you the same. I don't know when Otto Wiesenthal gave birth to this idea. All I know is that he had previously worked elsewhere and suddenly he had this mad idea to open a hotel. I have always thought his idea ingenious. Here I have the feeling that I'm coming home from Salzburg to Vienna, get my key from somewhere and hole up in my room. Which is different every time. This personal feel is what I like. The feeling of really living in a city, not in a hotel, not being observed. I don't have to submit to social norms, such as 'make yourself beautiful' or walk by the restaurant or bar. I can bunk off very privately. I find that concept as appealing as ever.
That means the first rooms that you helped design here were together with Otto?
Yes, exactly, with Otto. I really enjoyed that. The conceptual orientation back then was especially loved by an American audience. Sometimes a bit colorful, a little bit flowery. Back then Otto, with his one-of-a-kind sense of style - he sometimes says he is a little color blind - arranged pictures and colors freely. I think he noticed quite fast that this variety is special. Different architectures made by different offices. That's actually his concept. How modern that is today! That's special. Not the monotonous boredom of a stylish hotel, but a personal feeling.
Today we talk about two rooms that we have redesigned and made new.
Exactly! What can you tell us about these rooms?
We wanted to create a new remix, under the given circumstances, such as the intense turquoise of the mosaics in the bathrooms. Something that is inherent to the hotel is the diversity of styles. The special challenge was to find a design that it doesn't know yet. To add something that complements the mosaic Altstadt Vienna. Something new.
In this sense, I endeavored to find, not only in terms of color, but also in design, good products from the 50s, such as the well-known "Votteler Chair" which Arno Votteler designed for Walter Knoll. But also new lights for the bed. They were very dark before and didn't provide enough light to read. We then decided upon the "Mantis lamps" by Bernard Schottlander. They are delicate and have a deformed appeal to them.
This mix is then underlined with colors.
You have known this house for so long both as a guest and as a designer. The Altstadt Vienna lives on this uncanny variety and diversity. The one thing we're always looking for, the common thread, is the Viennese way of life.
How is this portrayed in your two rooms?
Maybe not directly in the rooms, but I think the common thread is the house itself. This Vienna. You're greeted by a concierge, get the key and feel like you're in a private apartment. That's the beautiful thing too - the house already implies it. The staircase is a Viennese staircase, the rooms are Viennese rooms - equipped with high ceilings and a grand ambiance. That's Viennese. Vienna has always been a cosmopolitan city and therefore it has also known different furnishing concepts. Vienna lives on the one hand from the turn of the century and the Art Nouveau movement, it lives from the Accidentism which culminated with Josef Frank, who distinguished himself with his stylish, accidental mixes.
For me, this variety and colorfulness is the common thread. A typical Viennese structure that has a residential and not a hotel character. This diversity represents a cosmopolitan city.
What are your thoughts on the characteristics of both rooms. Do you have any favorite pieces?
Yes, room #12 with its wallpaper that was created in the 70's. It's very attractive in combination with the small mosaic in the bathroom. The wallpaper is very lively and in the height of the room looks very different than in a small room, for which it was probably originally thought. There is a certain exaggeration that seems almost theatrical.
Why did you choose a completely different color concept for room #10?
Because it is smaller. We also decided to integrate only one fauteuil. But then a bit more comfortable. In order not to make two rooms look alike, or to repeat a concept, we then chose a blush pink. The "Mono" chair by Marco Dessi looks good in combination with black-brown. We created a more feminine room here.
Compared to before, the rooms look much more airy and generous.
How do designers incorporate their own preferences and personalities? How does your work differ from your personal style of living?
Your handwriting is, of course, also characterized by your personal environment. I originally studied stage and costume design and have no problem with creating a small copy of something for you. Personally, I have a very simple style, especially in color. I love big rooms. The fascinating thing about a hotel room is this small space you live on. The different areas of living, sleeping, eating and relaxing are harmoniously linked with each other. To maintain a lightness and generosity is the particular challenge. It should never seem overloaded.
Is there a particular type of guest you designed your rooms for?
That's a good question. When you sleep in a hotel room you come here and mark your territory. Everyone has their own preference for what to spread out. I don't think about what kind of footprints the room already has. I can't imagine one particular guest. I just hope that the person living there feels comfortable with the color scheme and the design.
As you said before, you feel at home in the Altstadt Vienna... Are there any other hotels where you feel comfortable? Do you have a favorite hotel?
Not really, I always come to you. But I visited the Hotel Daniel in Vienna out of curiosity and recently I also slept at the Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch, London. This is a very elegant hotel chain. I am always very curious to look into other hotels and see their concepts. I find that very exciting.
And what makes a good hotel, in addition to the design?
A coherent concept. One should recognize a common thread. Spacious premises, especially in the entrance area. I think it's nice when a hotel is integrated into the neighborhood. It should be embedded by other shops, such as hairdressers, flower shops, supermarkets or gyms. It should never just stand on its own like a colossus. It should be integrated into the city. Personally, I find that very important in a hotel.
Thank you for the talk.