De­sign Des­ti­na­tions

What lies be­yond this ho­tel’s tra­di­tional frontage is stylish, clever – and to­tally un­ex­pected

Inside Out - - CONTENTS -

Ex­plore a lux­ury, mod­ern ho­tel in Barcelona, a bou­tique getaway in Sri Lanka, and a Dubai res­tau­rant that’s full of de­sign sur­prises.

It’s the float­ing cat­walk stretch­ing across the light-filled atrium – dra­mat­i­cally con­nect­ing the ho­tel’s Cata­lan fa­cade to the en­trance hall – that first in­di­cates the Man­darin Ori­en­tal Barcelona, which opened its doors in 2009, will prove full of sur­prises. This land­mark build­ing on the fa­mous Pas­seig de Gra­cia was once well-known to city dwellers as the Banco His­pano Amer­i­cano: in fact, the bank’s old safe boxes have been in­cor­po­rated in the ho­tel’s Banker’s Bar as tes­ta­ment to its stal­wart past. Now, how­ever, a mod­ern, dar­ing, cre­ative de­sign has breathed new life into the build­ing’s bones. The vi­sion­ary be­hind the ho­tel’s in­te­ri­ors is the Span­ish de­signer Pa­tri­cia Urquiola. With an ex­em­plary back­ground in prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, this was – as­ton­ish­ingly – her first ho­tel com­mis­sion. It was not only a coura­geous move on her part to take on a project of this scale – the site mea­sures more than 17,000 square feet – but showed be­lief and com­mit­ment from the renowned ho­tel group who cham­pi­oned Urquiola and her vi­sion. It took three years for the de­signer to cre­ate the ho­tel’s unique in­te­ri­ors – a del­i­cate bal­anc­ing act as she sought to al­lude to the prop­erty’s her­itage, marry the sim­ple lin­ear lines of the build­ing with a crisp, clean de­sign, and draw on her own per­cep­tions of a grand ho­tel’s el­e­gance. One of the most striking im­pres­sions is the way that Urquiola has har­nessed the Mediter­ranean light to max­i­mum ad­van­tage: it pours down from the many aper­tures in the cathe­dral-like

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