Everyone has put their heart into it
I was very happy to be asked to do this job as designing a ‘home hotel’ like this is a dream for interior designers. Then I saw the place, and wow! This villa built in the mid-thirties is like something from Sleeping Beauty’s dreams: it was in a pretty neglected condition, but the old photos showed it was built with love and was loved by the people who lived there…
I was also asked to find the architects. The work progressed in a fun atmosphere, everyone was flexible and you could see they enjoyed what they were doing.
I think the house shows that everyone put their heart into it.
It was important to make it a kind of home, to make it about them and capture their attitude to life and their way of thinking, something they want to share with others. We gave each room a special character, and they were given their own names according to this. All of us involved in this job, which lasted between 18 months and two years, developed our own favourites.
The exterior of the building was not remodelled extensively. We tried to preserve the facade elements and only installed new doors and windows in a few places. However, we did create a lounge area with a veranda that gives a sense of being both outside and inside. It has a special atmosphere and is a real point of interest in conjunction with the garden. We had to keep in mind that this community space should be the heart of the house, where people love to go down to and meet one another instead of staying in their rooms most of the time.
In my work, I always rely heavily on my instincts. I’m curious about what drives the client and the emotions that the subject of our joint project evokes. As I have been working with Ágnes for a long time, our work process is very smooth. She shows me a painting, for example, that reminds me of something; I often send her mood images from which she chooses the one she likes, and then I can take the next steps… Sometimes, she would like to set off in a particular direction that I don’t agree with. I tell her we are not going that way, and she is grateful for that because, not being a designer, she often thinks in a totally different way. At the same time, she is extremely creative and, as she is not bound to the mores of the profession, she can come up with ideas that would never occur to me but inspire me greatly. These ideas usually get their final form after I filter, polish and further refine them, which she is very happy to see.
When you are planning a hotel for another client, work usually starts with practical issues: what can be done, what can’t, what standards need to be complied with and so on. And these can fundamentally restrict your thinking. Fortunately, this was not the case here, as we considered this to be a home rather than a hotel from the start. This is what makes this completely different from a hotel project, where you are told, for example, that you can only use tiles in the bathroom, you have to enter the bathroom through a door, and I could go on.
From the beginning, we knew that the involvement of young Hungarian designers would be one of key things that would give the place personality. Some of them were people I recommended, others were contacted directly by CLIENT. They created collections specifically for this space. This job is also special in that we even worked together with ceramic studios to design the plates. The kitchen will not have the same plates, cups and other utensil, as in traditional hotels, but a large variety of them as you would in a home.
Benczúr Weichinger Studio