Linen for tranquility

“Das Stue” in the diplomatic quarter behind Berlin’s Zoo is a luxury boutique hotel with only 80 rooms and suites. Barcelona’s LVG Arquitectura and Patricia Urquiola were in charge of the interior design. The express aim: to offer the greatest possible contemporary luxury (tranquility and space for the guests) in the building that once housed the Danish Embassy. Textiles played a key part here, as they not only create a special atmosphere, but also play a decisive role in architectural terms, for example by optimizing the acoustics.

Uta Abendroth: Eugenia Linares, what are the greatest challenges when it comes to hotel design?

Eugenia Linares: First of all, as an architect you have to understand the client’s hotel concept and grasp to which guests the hotel is to appeal. Then you have to set about creating an atmosphere that fits the desired clientele while at the same time if possible being innovative and avoiding clichés. In my opinion that’s the hardest part, identifying the project’s theme and getting it right. This requires the greatest inputs and the most time. Once the theme or the image has been established, everything starts to flow and rooms take shape in quite a straightforward manner.

How do you plan your projects? Do you start with the big picture and end up with the details or is there a fixed overall concept from the word go?

Eugenia Linares: We try to start with an essentially general idea and then move on down through to the smallest of aspects. It helps here not to get bogged down in the details and to develop a uniform style that coherently brings all the different zones together. Even if each room can have its own atmosphere, you still need an over-arching design idea that drives the entire project. Otherwise you end up with too many different narratives and overshoot the mark.

The "Embassy Rooms" are 30m², many of them include floor to ceiling panoramic windows. Most of them are equipped with a bathtub. Photo © The Stue

At what point in the design process do textiles come into play?

Eugenia Linares: Textiles play an important role from the very beginning, when we discuss the choice of materials. For us, textiles are just as important as the floor, the colors, the wall panels and the materials used for the furniture. We tend to rely on fabrics to decorate the walls, such as the walls behind bed headboards or the walls in meeting rooms. And in order to cover the inside walls of the facade. We hang curtains not just along the windows, but drape fabrics across the entire length of the façade wall. This approach helps create rooms that are as comfortable as they are cozy – and enhances ambient acoustics.

Why do you mainly look for in textiles? Color, texture, quality or functional specifications such as non-flammability?

Eugenia Linares: We always try to use natural wovens such as linen or cotton, as they have a soft texture and fall nicely. It’s not always easy if it’s a public space. In such cases, the flame-retarding standards considerably constrain the choice to a very few options such as Trevira wovens. Colors depend, by contrast, on the day, are subject to trends, and each project has its own requirements in that regard. We prefer neutral colors such as stone-greys or soft beiges.

How do you keep abreast of all the textiles in the market? And how do you decide which to use?

Eugenia Linares: Keeping informed is very easy today as the Net is full of data and details. You can check out the Website of a manufacturer you like or want to work with sometime soon. But the best way is to visit trade fairs, showrooms and factories. Precisely at trade fairs you come across brands you’ve never heard of before, can take specimens home with you, and ask the producers your question in person. You have to see and have a woven fabric in your hands to know whether you like it. And there are hundreds at trade fairs …

To what extent does a hotel like “Das Stue” require a look of its own? Were certain textiles or colors imperatives there?

Eugenia Linares: No, we were given carte blanche and allowed to choose all the textiles and colors ourselves.

So what colors did you select for “Das Stue”?

Eugenia Linares: By and large we went for natural, essentially neutral colors for the unchanging areas, such as paneling, headrest sections, and furniture. We then used the brighter colors for the textiles for the bed linen, the pillows and cushions and smaller deco items. Our main choices were fuchsia, mustard yellow and pistachio green. Now, these are subdued color tones that are discrete on the eye.

Patricia Urquiola, who designed the public areas of "The Stue", furnished the reception among others with her chair "Bohemian" for Moroso. Photo © The Stue

And what were your main choices of material?

Eugenia Linares: As far as possible we used natural textiles: wool for the plaids and carpets, cotton for the towels and bathrobes. For the curtains and the textile elements that cannot be replaced we went for flame-resistant Trevira. As regards the other materials we only used ones that somehow seem familiar and homely, such as brown leather for the headboards, smooth oak veneer for the wall paneling and the furniture, and African rosewood for the floors. We achieved contrasts by opting for white lacquered sliding doors and copper for some of the decorative elements.

What brands did you go for?

Eugenia Linares: The curtains are by Gaston y Daniela, a manufactory founded in 1876 in Bilbao and one of the highest-profile providers of decorative fabrics in all of Spain. And the carpets are courtesy of Jordi Mas, which is based outside Barcelona and spins its own yarns.

How did you communicate with Patricia Urquiola on designing the rooms for “Das Stue”?

Eugenia Linares: The room interior designs were as good as complete by the time she joined the project. Patricia was responsible for the design of the public zones. Although she gave us a few suggestions as regards the guest rooms, she was never really involved there. Her ideas were the floral drawings for the carpets and the idea of using powerful colors.

Is she a very “textile” person or did she leave that to LVG Arquitectura?

Eugenia Linares: Patricia took all the decisions on textiles in the public spaces. She really pays a lot of attention to the textiles when designing them and she took great care in her choice of fabric for each spatial setting.

What inspires you most?

Eugenia Linares: Travel. And I also learn a lot from good design projects. I analyze the spaces and the respective mood, ask myself where I feel good and why? I then try and bring the essence of this to bear in new projects.

To what extent to traditional Spanish fabrics play a role in your work?

Eugenia Linares: A huge role! In traditional Spanish houses you find fabrics wherever you look: table clothes, curtains, carpets … Although now and again things can be a little over the top, it is a fact that these houses have a very comfortable and warm feeling to them.

The all-day dining restaurant "Casual" was given its look by Patricia Urquiola. Photo © The Stue
Cozy, cuddly and with views over the Tiergarten or the Berlin Zoo: A "Stue room". Photo © The Stue
Copper pots seem to hover below the ceiling of the fine-dining restaurant "Cinco" by Chef Paco Pérez. Photo © The Stue
"The Stue" is has taken its residence in the former Danish Embassy, a neoclassical building of the German architect Johann Emil Schaudt. Photo © The Stue

Only the best textiles for guests

The choice of textiles employed in the luxury hotel sector is primarily determined by quality. Decision-makers see this aspect as being even more important than sustainability, design and price – says a study.

To the article >

A press-of-the-button comfort zone

The Heimtextil, which takes place in Frankfurt from January 12-15, 2016, and thus on different days than in the past, highlights the topics of sustainability, “Well-Being 4.0” and textiles for the hotel trade.

To the article >

Greener than ever

Sustainability is one of the key issues of the 21st century. And the Heimtextil trade fair is also prioritizing the topic: with a “Green Directory” guidance system and a total of 125 exhibitors in this section.

To the article >