the Olympic Palace hotel
THE HEIGHT OF LUXURY when it opened in 1958. The Olympic Palace hotel had lost its lustre by the time billionaire industrialist and hotelier Dakis Joannou snapped it up in 2007. A voracious col­lector of edgy contemporary art who cruises the Greek islands in a flamboyant yacht customized by Jeff Koons, Joannou is not one to shy away from big statements. His latest hotel carries the cheeky moniker NEW. It's not just the capital letters that scream confidence; the name suggests that this place will never go out of style.

The Olympic Palace hotel
To bring the sparkle back to the 79-room estab­lishment in central Athens, he called on Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana. The brothers, who had never been to Athens when they agreed to take on their first hotel project, were struck by the similarities between Sao Paulo and Athens: gritty, sprawling, vibrant, anarchic. Known for their eco-sensitive ethos and self-styled "aesthetic of deconstruction,' they decided to incor­porate remnants of the old Olympic Palace into the new hotel. They set up a workshop on site and invited 20 local architecture students to help them reconfigure the original fittings and furnishings.
The Olympic Palace hotel
The result is an intriguing hybrid, where the boundaries between before and after are blurred. For example, some of the old chairs were upcycled: ladderbacks double as clothing rails, and a sliced seat becomes a newspaper rack. On the first day of the workshop, the students were asked to bring something that symbolized Greek popular culture Some of these objects found their way into the guest rooms: traditional Korogiozis shadow puppets, blue glass pendants to ward off the evil eye, and vintage postcards of Athens have all been turned into feature walls. "We wanted to make the design more democratic," Fernando explains. "In Greece, there's a big gap between the past and modernity. They think anything modern is bad taste. Our aim was to teach the students to develop greater self-confidence about Greek style."
The Companas' own Favela chairs inspired the instal lation in the lobby and the restaurant, where walls and columns are clad in a jumble of salvaged furniture and reclaimed wood. With Greece teetering on the brink of economic collapse, the fragmented design seemed a fitting metaphor for a fractured society struggling to pick up the pieces. The broken theme continues In the bath­rooms, with jagged bronze basins and mirrors (sexy, but very smudgy). Bronze, leather and onyx details add a streak of glamour throughout: giant, bell-shaped pendant lights; swaying Miraggio mirrors; dark chocolate corridors lined with tactile bark doth. (The basement gym, wallpapered in shimmering PVC, in homage to the disco that once occupied the space, felt a little too much like a sweaty dance floor)

In the all-day ground-floor restaurant, break­fast - a perfect cappuccino, warm croissants, and artfully presented platters of fruit-provided a delicious moment of calm as traffic whizzed by the picture windows. Guests will be able to enjoy breakfast with far better views when the rooftop lounge opens in 2012.

Technorati Tags:
Share on Google Plus


Post a Comment

Contact Form


Email *

Message *