Go ahead feel at home! After all this is Mama Shelter Istanbul, a hotel where it is all conducive to letting your hair down just as you did when you were a kid. And if you feel like scribbling on the walls then that too is fine!
French designer Philippe Starck managed to raise many an eyebrow when he first came on to the hospitality arena with the opening of the Parisian Mama Shelter in 2008, the hotel he created in partnership with former Club Med chief executive Serge Trigano.
This brand made its own mark as being nothing like anything of your average hotels; instead it was a curious amalgamation of a quirky, non conforming fun design catering to both the young and the young at heart!
Mama Shelter in Paris was soon followed by one in Marseille, one in Lyon and then one in Istanbul.
The Istanbul branch opened in March 2013 and just like the others the location was once again far from the city’s well known cluster of hotels. Mama Shelter Istanbul sits atop a new departmental store on Avenue Istiklal Caddesi.
Istiklal was once where the well heeled went, but that was in the olden days when it was one of the most famous avenues of Istanbul. Located in the historic Beyoğlu (Pera) district, Istiklal houses several boutiques, bookstores, art galleries, theatres, cafés, pubs, night clubs with live music etc.
Mama Shelter Istanbul is situated in their midst and is in fact only a short walk or taxi ride away from the Sultanahmet and the old city where the Blue Mosque and the other iconic tourist attractions are located.
At Mama Shelter the cyber world comes to you served on a plate, a 27” iMac in the rooms fulfills the space for a radio, TV, free and paid movies, weather forecasts, hotel bill, photo booth etc. The built-in iMac camera allows you to shoot impromptu ‘selfies’ and send them to your friends directly via e-mail as well.
The rooms speak of Brutalist architecture which is balanced with elements of sheer fun. Masks (these could be in the semblance of Darth Vader, Winnie the Pooh, Bugs Bunny or Batman) double up as lamps.
In the rooms the ceiling and walls are in unfinished concrete with two walls covered with large mirrors. The black carpet on the floor and outside the rooms in the corridor carries white stamps of calligraphy. It seems as if a child’s childhood is fiercely preserved by his Mama!
The reception is situated on the fourth floor and opens out into a vast area composed of a lounge, a bar, a pizzeria, a restaurant, an open kitchen and al fresco seating.
Once again graffiti makes its presence felt, but here on the ceiling. The bar has rows of colourful, inflated rubber tyres; this element is another one of the hallmarks of the brand Mama Shelter.
The small informal stage decorated with musical instruments beckons the proficient and the amateur artist alike to come and break into song and dance. Mama Shelter is all about not walking the beaten path.
Even though there is no molly coddling meted out here by the management, there is every element of comfort present.
Just feel at home, look around and it is all there. The décor doesn’t daunt instead it is young and hip and lets you do your ‘own thing’.
Call it non conformist, call it non reverential, yet the brand Mama Shelter comes equipped with all the bells and whistles required for your comfort and above all as is printed on the bottles of their cosmetic line, ‘Mama loves you from head to toe.”
We presented Philippe Starck, the iconic designer and the man behind the enigmatic brand ‘Mama Shelter’ a few questions. His answers will help better understand the ‘buzz’ behind the brand…
Why the name Mama Shelter?
Mama Shelter is a human story, a meeting, a sincere friendship; it’s about people who love each other. This is where it all starts. It first was a meeting with the Trigano family and Cyril Aouizerate, a dozen years ago. From the first second on, I was part of the family, it was osmosis. Next came on board, Michel Reybier. The founding principles of this enlarged family are friendship and love. The shelter brings together the Mama Shelter tribe.
What prompted you to use more of materials like steel, glass etc.?
The only desirable style is freedom. The freedom to follow no trends; to be totally free in terms of culture and time, to be able to mix all and everything so that places reflect the richness of life!
Are you particularly catering to a younger section of society?
This adventure is about a democratic dream: trying to give the best to a maximum amount of people thanks to innovative ideas derived from the energy of youth.
Mama Shelter is a place of freedom, sparkling, fizzing. The most interesting part is the people who will come here: intelligent, creative, very open, they can be young, they can be old, but they are always young in their brains.
How is one Mama different from another?
We are not reflecting folklore; so we do not need to make each Mama different: we speak to the same Mama Shelter tribe in Istanbul, as in Paris etc… The only difference is the moments shared by people: the private jokes, a wink between two friends.
Text By Mala Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy Mama Shelter