No half measures

Interior designer Cord Glantz of Geplan Design has created a “temporary home” at the b'mine hotel at Frankfurt Airport. Here, guests can sit down on furniture by Rolf Benz. In this interview, Glantz explains the concept to the publishers of Stylepark.

Franziska von Schumann: Mr. Glantz, “Half measures are not our cup of tea” is your way of putting it. Tell me about your approach to hotel projects such as the b'mine.

Cord Glantz: In our line of work, it is extremely important to be involved from an extremely early point in the planning phase. For us, it is not the right approach to first start once the architects are finished with their part of the work. The building arises as an aggregation of rooms and besides, the b'mine has been designed on the basis of a module. One aspect of an interior architect’s planning is to determine the locations of certain functional elements, such as where the kitchen should be located within a building. For restaurant businesses what is then required is short walking distances, a room must be clearly arranged for staff to be able to identify guests’ needs. Such comprehensive planning is only possible if the interior designers are involved in the process from the outset. We can also assume responsibility for construction site management and take care of photographic documentation once everything is complete. In other words, in a project, it is important to offer the target group what it is looking for from the word go. In other words, not to do things by halves.

Robert Volhard: In our preliminary chat you mentioned that you had already designed the layouts for the hotel a number of years ago. What was it about this project that fascinated you?

Cord Glantz: I was approached by the developers of the “CarLoft”, which is now the b’mine, about a joint project more than ten years ago and during our collaboration the idea took shape for a simple building structure with only a few types of rooms. Small rooms offering everything that guests need. Rolf Benz furniture is durable and well thought out, which means that it fits the concept superbly. The b’mine in Frankfurt is the first hotel in the chain open and is globally unique.

Robert Volhard: Were there other reasons why you opted for furniture by Rolf Benz?

Cord Glantz: We analyzed the target group and looked for a brand that would fit in with it well and would, moreover, be recognized by it. Rolf Benz and b’mine simply go together well. High quality. An appreciation of those fundamental things and a love of details. Moreover, durability guarantees the sustainability of interior design. On top of this, as a manufacturer, Rolf Benz was able to respond very flexibly to our requirements.

In conversation: Robert Volhard, founder, publisher and board member of Stylepark, interior designer Cord Glantz, Geplan Design and Franziska von Schumann, publisher and board member of Stylepark (from left to right) at b'mine Frankfurt.

Franziska von Schumann: What actual adjustments were made to Rolf Benz’s design for the b’mine?

Cord Glantz: Among other things, we altered the seat height of the chosen furniture. We wanted to position sofas and armchairs with their upholstery at completely identical heights opposite one another. Likewise, we had our own ideas about the color of the covers and the base. Indeed, we wanted the latter to be made of genuine walnut, not only to be stained. Rolf Benz was able to comply with all these special requests of ours. Very few furniture manufacturers have the capability for such things.

Robert Volhard: “It’s the fish that has to take the bait, not the angler” is a German saying that you are fond of using, in other words, the design needs to be tailored to the target group. Which bait do you have planned for which fish at the b’mine?

Cord Glantz: After we had identified our target group – largely younger business travelers – we conducted surveys in order to find out what is important for such people when it comes to a hotel. Security is an extremely important aspect, as is public spaces with a generous feel to them, spaces that are comfortable and offer the opportunity to exchange opinions at spur-of-the-minute meetings. Based on these findings we went for a seat height that encourages communication, as well as for colors and materials for the rooms such as flooring consisting of solid wood and walls made of reconstituted stone in the bathrooms. Moreover, the rooms boast multifunctional surfaces that are easy to clean and designed so that visitors can relax during their short stays, as well as being able to cope if they are in a hurry.

Clubsessel "562" von Rolf Benz im Hotel b'mine

Franziska von Schumann: The location was bound to have been crucial to the concept.

Cord Glantz: Yes, being close to the airport is fundamental, although the b’mine concept is likewise structured such that it can be applied elsewhere, too. The various types of room will be used in other cities and there is practically no intention to allow for regional variations in design. Frankfurt and its airport in particular are the
European hub, which is why this open hotel concept with its international orientation is particularly suitable here. There will always be enough guests for good hotels, even during the pandemic.

Robert Volhard: How much were you able to contribute to the decision that the restaurant be located on the 12th floor and is also open to guests not booked in to spend the night at the hotel?

Cord Glantz: That was a joint decision. The restaurant on the 12th floor with its fantastic panoramic view and the fact that the premises are also open for spontaneous visits was important to us because the out-of-the-ordinary is such a part of the b’mine’s USP.

Franziska von Schumann: In the planning phase do you exchange opinions with your twin brother about the project or are your desks completely separate?

Cord Glantz: We are identical twins and studied together but for a certain amount of time our professional lives took different paths. When I assumed responsibility for Geplan Design my brother Rolf returned to the company. Each of us has his own projects but we also make a number of joint decisions for can always rely on each other in that regard, we have that kind of blind trust in each other and the same way of looking at things. When I leave a room and he comes into it instead of me, he could finish off my sentence. That’s what’s so great about it, because I know that he makes decisions on my behalf and I do things the way he would want them. Furthermore, we complement each other very well. I am more of a chaotic type but he lends things a great deal of structure.

Robert Volhard: “When design doesn’t work it isn’t actually design” – that is a motto of yours. What is it about Rolf Benz’s designs that works so well?

Cord Glantz: When design doesn’t do anything to improve on functionality it really isn’t design. When producing industrial design, the function is important and, in our projects, we try to highlight this focus. It is a challenge to bring aesthetics and function into harmony with each other. Indeed, architects Herzog & de Meuron once said ‘People talk about architecture when people are touched by something.’ I find that a pleasing statement, one that also applies to the b’mine. After all, with our work, we are attempting to use light, materials and color to create a pleasant mood, one that will appeal to the guests.

Robert Volhard: On entering the hotel’s restaurant, the impression is that you have also thought about the acoustics aspect.

Cord Glantz: Yes, the restaurant’s ceiling is highly effective in acoustic terms, that was very important to us. When the acoustics aren’t right, the guests only stay for a short time and possibly don’t order that second bottle of wine. In the bedrooms and meeting rooms the acoustics are extremely important, as well. The reverberation time is measurable and, when rooms have long reverberation times, they are perceived as cool, however much effort is invested in their creative design. For this reason, acoustics must always be included in the interior design planning.

Franziska von Schumann: The b’mine hotel offers “car lifts”. In other words, vehicles are only separated from the guests’ beds by a pane of glass. At the same time, as guests, people do not want to get the feeling that they are sleeping in a garage. How did you deal with that particular problem?

Cord Glantz: That was primarily an architectural issue, after all, the car is parked on the loggia, on the terrace in front of the actual room. The façade has been acoustically insulated and people are not aware of ambient noise. The terrace itself is extremely sheltered so as to offer people plenty of space. The double door construction means that the smell given off by the car’s engine does not permeate the room. The “CarLifts” are practical. Firstly, because I no longer need to carry all my luggage up to my room from the underground garage and have everything permanently within my reach. Moreover, underground garages are usually confusing, their lighting design is not good and they don’t have a pleasant atmosphere. With the “CarLift” I can park directly in front of my room, get out into the fresh air and am right where I want to be. Thirdly, the elevator runs through the entire building. In other words, people could be presenting a car in the conference area on the 11th floor.

Robert Volhard: You have been an interior designer since 1993 – what would you say is particularly fundamental to a hotel’s facilities?

Cord Glantz: I think that in future we will be building hotels in a much more modular way. This will make it easier to manage construction speed, construction quality and ecology because a product can then be manufactured differently at the factory from the way that it can on the construction site. For me, individual trends are not of critical importance, because, as an interior architect I design the kind of rooms in which people should still be able to feel at home in two years’ time. As I see it, there have only been two trends in recent years that will make a real impact on a hotel design – the first, getting back to basics and the second, the search for a private authenticity. What is important is to be able to create the kind of result that fits in with its environment as a matter of course. And this is something that we have been able to achieve at the b’mine, together with Rolf Benz.