Through a flamboyant and eclectic design narrative, Marcel Wanders decodes Switzerland, its culture, heritage and many achievements, in his trademark style at the Kameha Grand Zurich Hotel.
Kameha Grand Zurich Hotel celebrates being Swiss like no other. Designed by Amsterdam based Marcel Wanders, this international lifestyle hotel is a ‘modern place of retreat’, where art meets style meets technology. It features a stunning neo-baroque interior that embraces Swiss ingenuity in a decor that can be best described as festive, majestic, flamboyant and unpredictable, true to Wanders style.
Dubbed ‘Lady Gaga of Design’ by Times New York, Marcel Wanders is all about “bringing the human touch back to design,” preferring holistic solutions rather than technocratic. In Kameha Grand Zurich, his designs defy modern chic and instead romance poetry, fantasy and the beauty of different eras. The spatial language is a continuous narrative, different in every area, yet with an underlying similarity.
A wide range of influences reflect the functionality of design in the communal spaces’ decor. For the Italian restaurant, an image of a cosy Italian eatery was masterminded through snug circular sofa seating around an open plan live-cooking station, and hard to ignore Swiss chocolate allusions. A larger than life appeal is lent to the space by an oversized upturned pasta bowl that hangs from the ceiling.
Meanwhile, in the Japanese fine dine sushi bar, minimalism and traditional Asian influences play alongside Swiss literalism, to make the space unique. The decor here is perfectly augmented with ‘Scherenschnitte’; the traditional Swiss paper cutting art, covers the walls in shadow-play tales.
Similar paper art continues in the exotic ‘Shisha Lounge’ that takes its cue from modern Arabia and is in total contrast to the Smoker’s Lounge, which is a testament to the traditional English Gentleman’s den – complete with dark wooden surfaces, leather armchairs and hanging candelabras. What catches our eye however, are the large photographs of people smoking, leaving no doubts at all about the functionality of the space.
Marcel Wanders’ love for lavishness and grandiosity is clearly seen in the guest rooms where each theme is a detailed example of high end welcoming hospitality. Wanders firmly believes in “replacing the coldness of industrialism with a style brought vividly to life in the contemporary moment” and follows through in each of the differently themed suites, with a plot quite of their own.
The themes are translated through furniture, tapestry, accessories and textures, where Swiss connotations too are seamlessly infused. In the Workout Suite, if it is about saluting the athletes with a medallion wall and stadium flooring, in the Princess Suite, a delicate white volume shows whimsy at its best.
If Poker cards, a roulette table and walls looking like chocolate squares outfit the game themed Poker Suite, the Serenity Suite has scented candles and yoga accessories as furniture elements.
Likewise, the other suites defined by their ‘originality and extraordinary details’, a by-product of mixing design with life, present to the guests all possible thematic iconography as per the name suggests – the Diva, the Burlesque, the Gentleman, the Fair Play, the Workout, the Ghost-writer, the Watchmaker, and the Oriental Suite.
Palpable in all these spaces, and also throughout the hotel, is Wanders’ unique approach of paying homage to Switzerland, through sometimes quirky, sometimes blatant touches. They connect the kaleidoscopic decor like a common tool – while walls and sofas are draped in chocolate references, the country’s finance industry gets recognition in the form of mini-bars modelled like bank vaults in each room. The tapestry is a tribute to the country’s needle craft, and motifs take after tulips and other local floral resources.
But by far the most impressive space of the Kameha Grand Zurich is its dramatic central Kameha Dome which holds the property’s 701 sq m meeting space. Here Marcel Wanders has very creatively used colours and patterns – a black and white monochromatic patterned tile composition brings out the grandiosity of the chandeliers and opulent blood red drapes. Glass windows ensure abundance of natural light in the large space minimising the heavy, ostentatious appeal of drapes and the tile pattern.
Kameha Grand Zurich is a collection of many small tales that are a part of the bigger story, outlined through archetypes and stunning interior elements. There is a passion in detailing which has made every space specifically purposeful, albeit in a whacky way. It objectifies Marcel Wanders’ belief that, “A hotel should entertain, inspire and stimulate. The place should be full of surprises and beauty, so that the guests experience a luxurious lifestyle.”
In Wanders’ trademark style, the hotel decor is a blend of styles, speckled with Swiss elements; but instead of being a chaotic medley that overwhelms, it is like a jigsaw puzzle that fits perfectly. The autograph collection hotel, Kameha Grand Zurich truly lives up to its name.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs Courtesy Kameha Grand Zurich