Boutique Melbourne design agency Bar Studio is the creative force behind the Asia flagship property for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, the recently unveiled Rosewood Beijing.
Chosen to create sleek, sophisticated interiors for the hotel that capture the city’s rich cultural and artistic traditions, principal designer Stewart Robertson and his team including design director, Veronique Terreaux, were honoured to receive the commission.
This was awarded by dynamic Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Sonia Cheng, CEO of Rosewood Hotel Group, also executive director of one of the largest conglomerates in Hong Kong, New World Development Company Limited and New World China Land. Rosewood Hotels and Resorts are thrilled with the design result, describing Bar Studio’s concept as “incredibly bold and visionary”.
Bar Studio’s holistic design vision had come to the attention of Cheng as a result of the serene, contemporary mood achieved in earlier luxury hotel projects.
Notable projects within the studio’s extensive portfolio include; Park Hyatt Sydney’s 2012 exterior and interior refurbishment; Grand Hyatt Melbourne’s spectacular 2007 transformation; the design of Park Hyatt Beijing’s function space, The Gallery; Park Hyatt Shanghai’s collection of dining spaces, 100 Century Avenue (in collaboration with Tony Chi and Associates); and more recently Grand Hyatt Hong Kong’s refurbishment of its Teppanroom and all guest rooms and suites completed this year.
Bar Studio director and principal designer, Stewart Robertson, explains the design concept for Rosewood Beijing as a response to the brief from Cheng.
“To capture the vibrancy of the hotel, we have used framing devices to focus guests’ attention on key images and features” says Robertson, “whether the subject is the artwork, the cityscape or the culinary artists working in the show kitchens, the life-as-art framing techniques embody the hotel’s dynamic concept”.
The design of the 283-room hotel in the Chaoyang District opposite the iconic CCTV Tower combines architectural traditions, curated artwork and contemporary style to reflect the history, art and vibrancy of Beijing.
“Rosewood Beijing is not a design that relies on ‘effect after effect after effect’. The simplicity of the design conveys a quiet confidence”, Robertson says when describing the hotel’s design ethos.
Bar Studio has drawn inspiration from traditional Chinese painting and collaborated with leading Bangkok-based resort landscape architects PLandscape (PLA) to highlight Rosewood’s ‘A Sense of Place’ concept.
The exterior – Mongolian-sourced bluestone walls recall a mountain profile, while landscaping reflects classical Chinese garden concepts. “Sons of Dragon” sculptures guard the hotel entry gate and evoke Chinese architectural principles of balance and symmetry, transporting guests to an inner courtyard and lush gardens of seasonal foliage.
Inside the lobby, the designers have introduced subtle pavilion-like silhouettes which appear throughout the soaring five-story space. These are conceptually formed by a series of courtyards and rooms with screens, columns and beams, creating portals that connect the spaces. Fine lacework metal screens subtly reference Chinese patterns and open portals link the lobby visually to reception, six restaurants, function spaces and the garden – a haven from Beijing’s frenetic streetscape.
The Bar Studio team has emphasised artwork in the design scheme overall, and it is expressive of both traditional and contemporary art forms. Curated by Emily de Wolfe Pettit, founder of Beijing-based Arts Influential China consultancy, it has been selected to surprise and also challenge. The collection showcases a range of Beijing-based artists, each skilled at combining traditional materials and techniques with a contemporary aesthetic.
The hotel’s atrium features a towering painting inspired by the traditional shan shui landscape artworks originating in the Song dynasty (960-1279). Above this, calligraphy thoughtfully pays tribute to Qi Baishi’s iconic 1946 ink painting A Long Life, a Peaceful World, combining traditional painting and calligraphy.
Within this dramatic space, Bar Studio has created the ambience of an inviting home with bespoke furniture, accessories, a fireplace and decorative screens forming a warm and intimate setting.
Design Director, Veronique Terreaux, explains the significance of furniture to complement the design concept; “Through designs that play with our classic and relaxed base, the furniture brings an eclecticism and a sense of place to the different spaces of Rosewood Beijing”. This result is particularly evident in the property’s grand atrium.
A contemporary interpretation of a Chinese console holds an eclectic collection of specially sourced books, accessories and objets d’art, creating the feel of an intimate residence as a counterpoint to the volumes, shapes and scale of the artwork surrounding. Natural materials are combined with local artisanal details, such as recycled bronze tiles moulded by local Chinese craftsmen. The colour palette draws from calligraphy, with the emphasis on contrasts of light and dark providing a backdrop for the hotel’s artwork and colourful highlight pieces. As a result, the lobby is a luminous sanctuary from the city beyond.
Bar Studio has envisioned Rosewood Beijing as an entity with different areas expressing distinct personalities, yet harmonising overall. In their passage through the hotel guests experience a continuous journey of exploration and discovery. Reflecting the spirit of traditional hospitality, the hotel’s public areas have been designed to encourage sociability and a lively atmosphere.
Each element of the hotel’s design has been constructed to enhance this journey for guests, as described by Robertson: “The architecture and design of Rosewood Beijing is like a brilliant series of photographs, composing and framing views and experiences for each individual guest”.
In contrast, the designers have realised the luxurious guest rooms and suites as sanctuaries, evoking a sense of private apartments in their details which include contemporary furniture, mood lighting, accessories with subtle Oriental overtones. The generous proportion of the rooms and window seats frame the ‘borrowed scenery’ of Beijing city’s views.
Dining and relaxation venues in the hotel include six restaurants and lounges featuring authentic international cuisines. BAR Studio has developed the hotel’s signature Chinese restaurant Country Kitchen, as a casual and contemporary restaurant based on the idea of a local undercover marketplace. Its focal point is a bustling open kitchen producing an array of Northern Chinese specialties. Rustic Chinese antique bricks used in the space have been sourced from demolished houses in Beijing’s outskirts. Tracery screens feature modern interpretations of Oriental patterns. Naïve modern art complements the space’s rustic elements. Furniture is upholstered in a patchwork of geometric patterns in a range of blues and browns.
Nine private dining suites – The House of Dynasties – have been set on the floor above. Here, the décor features rich, sumptuous design and an opulent mix of dark timber, and golden metal finishes, classically styled furniture with gold and silver toned upholstery in patterned leathers, rich velvets and silks. Delicate tracery screens are juxtaposed with soft gold wall coverings.
The Manor Club, an exclusive series of residential-scale spaces inspired by a Manor house comprising a sitting room, library, dining house, billiard den and an outdoor terrace has been realised in rich and natural earth tones and contemporary classic style.
When experiencing Rosewood Beijing for the first time, one is impressed by its layered detail and culturally rich design. The property manages to evoke a feeling of community, whilst ensuring an intimate experience for each visitor.
Robertson highlights, “The idea of Beijing as a series of inner sanctuaries within a striking, impervious grey shell is central to the concept of the architecture and landscape of Rosewood Beijing. The design explores the notion of moving beyond the hard exterior to find an interior world that is something else; something unique, rich and unexpected”.