Okay, so that's what I wanted to avoid when designing an Australian-themed hotel, cliches like Crocodile Dundee and Outback Steakhouse (not that there's anything wrong with either of those two--they just weren't right for this project.)
My clients reflected three very different facets of their country: one was a fifth generation Australian; another was the child of Greek immigrants; the third was born in Asia and moved there as a child. They wanted to create an international chain of hotels that reflected their home, so I designed this first branch as a mix of Victoriana and the Outback, East and West, ancient and modern.
A perspective rendering of the lobby is shown above. My floor plan below takes an older building and separates it into a lobby (center), casual cafe (left), and formal restaurant (right).
With the clients' needs in mind (spreading the culture, hospitality, and aesthetics of Australia around the world), I developed a concept based on the aboriginal belief of Dreamtime, the realm of collective unconsciousness which forms the basis for the physical world. This exhibition provided so much inspirational artwork, at first I couldn't decide what to do with it. But after a long lunch with my friend Nadine, inspiration struck.
Having lived for several years in Australia, she explained that these paintings were meant to be topographic maps of Dreamtime, often done as sand paintings on the ground. When I later laid them over my floor plan, I realized how well they worked as natural space planners. They created balanced (yet organic) groupings and areas for seating, dining, and socializing.
The maps of Dreamtime had come full circle to truly help map the physical world in this project.
My previous degree in art has also come in handy during this Interior Design program. I've realized that art plays a huge part in my life as well as all of my designs. This hotel was no exception. With huge structural columns that could basically be treated as walls, I wanted to have large projections of contrasting images of Australia: historical and contemporary, color and black and white, old and new. It was a nod to some of my old work in video art and installation. I decided to place these on either side of the reception desk, below.
Nadine (who reviews hotels for a living) did warn me that projections like these might give guests the impression that they were walking into an ultra-modern hotel filled with all sorts of technological amenities, so I made sure to balance this feature with rough materials like driftwood and particleboard as well as an eclectic array of furniture (see boards on previous post.) My concept revolved around the eclecticism of Australia, so I definitely wanted to convey that.
There you have it. The first North American branch of an international chain of hotels called Boomerang. Their slogan? "You'll always come back."
(Additional elevations, floor plans, and construction documents available on request :^)