JW Marriott Absheron Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan
Blue Sky Hospitality has now finalised upgrading all public spaces of the JW Marriott Absheron Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan – one of the region’s leading five-star hotels. SPACE had a closer look at the design…
Blue Sky Hospitality has now finalised upgrading all public spaces of the JW Marriott Absheron Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan – one of the region’s leading 5 Star Hotels with the leadership of French-born celebrated London-artist Henry Chebaane, founder of Blue Sky Hospitality.
Acclaimed international hospitality designer and conceptual artist Henry Chebaane, founder and creative director of Blue Sky Hospitality, has created what might be a world’s first: a public space, formed by reception area and lobby cafe, that looks and feels like a giant immersive art gallery, but performs and functions like a hotel lobby.
To create an experience that is deeply rooted in a sense of place, the public space is a representation of the region, its culture and nature.
For the lobby, the main source of inspiration was the old Persian name of the city Baku (the “wind-pounded city”) and the surrounding Absheron peninsula (“place of salty waters”) as well as the rich nature of the nearby Caucasus mountains, where the Walnut tree is one of the dominant species.
These natural elements wind, water, salt and wood were then combined with local history and culture of the country and subsequently transformed from abstract elements into conceptual and physical design and art installations.
For the main walls of the lobby, Henry Chebaane conceived oversized, abstract carpets that are sculpted, not woven, created from 3D elements, based on wood, water and salt, crystallised in the historic geometric shape of the “Shebeke” form – deconstructed as if blown by the wind and rearranged in a set of unique and scalable patterns. They welcome visitors and guests to walk underneath instead of striding over them, allowing for an alternative perspective on all that surround us.
Inspired by one of the oldest national games, a set of 6 human-size chess pieces stand guard in the lobby, symbolically defending the hotel guests from third parties. Made from stacked walnut and stainless steel, they represent Caucasus wood, wind and water in millennia-old geological and cultural strata.
The Tea Lounge
The adjacent TEA LOUNGE has been designed to express the duality between heritage and innovation, permanence and transition. Conceived like a luxurious “chaikhana” (the traditional Central Asian tea house) for modern nomads, the space is articulated with clusters of loose seating and eclectic furniture to evoke a virtual “caravansarai”, offering guests the choice of individual relaxation and cocooning or group entertainment and socialising.
The colours for the fabrics and finishes is a direct composition of these various shades of plants and tea leaves, providing a simple, elegant and rich palette of sage, jade, teal, turquoise, chocolate and greens.
Razzmatazz – an experience into the world of rugs
Razzmatazz is based on the idea that you don’t fly on top of a magic carpet – you fly inside it, to another dimension in time and space, transported to a magical realm where not everything is what it seems.
Razzmatazz is the ultimate immersive brand experience, inspired by Persian and Azeri rugs and related elements. Instead of looking at a single rug on a floor, Razzmatazz is experienced as being inside the rug universe: a woolen geometric surface covers the whole floor, then its patterns (a stylised flower cross between a Persian rose and an Azeri pomegranate) pop out onto the walls and ceiling, colours are within the materials, but also leach out through glowing lights. The bar and wooden wall panels contain angular lines that trace the threads of a giant imaginary loom into space.
The Restaurant – ZEST
The branding, lighting and interior design take inspiration from Miami’s South Beach and Sydney’s Bondi Beach combined with the citrus groves of Lenkaran, the subtropical southern region of Azerbaijan.
The entire space invigorates customers with a crisp palette of pale oak, white marble, linen Corian and polished stainless steel punctuated by pops of vibrant citrus colours. Modernist furniture, intricate custom millwork and numerous design details deliver a cosmopolitan vibe with strong style and youthful elegance.
The highest ceiling point at 8,5 meters is covered with “VITAMIN SPRITZ” a striking lighting art installation, made of 101 globes and 2500 rods of translucent yellow, orange and lime floating in space while gently pulsing through the day as part of a sophisticated scenography created by Blue Sky Hospitality design studio.
A second large scale art installation is “DUCK MARMALADE”: a whimsical spread of 1500 orange rubber ducks floating inside an eleven meters pool of granite and white marble.
The OroNero Lounge – a high-fashion private jet room
Styled like a high-fashion private jet with burnished gold buffalo leather panels, pink gold snake upholstery, black gold leather seats and intricate fretwork panels in ebonized timber, the OroNero lounge is something quite different. An intimate prosecco bar, grappa library and salumi kitchen stunningly clad in black marble with amber veins provide grazing food and specialty drinks.
The jewel-box restaurant is anchored by a superb walk-in wine cellar and an elegant private dining room, which is connected with the city and the Caspian Sea by floor-to-ceiling windows.
The timber flooring is an amber colour with black veins specially developed by the Blue Sky Hospitality design studio for this restaurant, as is the bespoke wool carpet: a piece of conceptual art evoking splashes of coffee, Prosecco, olive oil and fine Balsamico to celebrate the creative work of the bar and kitchen teams.
Henry Chebaane always include conceptual art installations in his projects so that the space delivers more than aesthetic satisfaction and pleasurable comfort but also ask philosophical questions and engage the imagination of the public.
FIREWORKS urban kitchen: the steakhouse born of fire
In Azerbaijan, fire has shaped the culinary and cultural landscapes for centuries. Today, the memory of this vast shared heritage has been assembled and re-imagined as “FIREWORKS”, a dining destination for the 21st Century. A place high in symbolism, aesthetic drama, kinetic stimulations and taste sensations: fireworks for the senses!
Guarding and protecting the guests at the entrance is an imposing life-size wild bull cast in shimmering molten bronze, celebrating the raw power of fire and sheer life energy that it enables, providing mankind with a warm home and tasty steaks.
Also at the entrance are two dragon skulls: one male and one female represent the mythology of fire: opposite but complementary natural forces (yin/yang, heat/oxygen) that starts fire and sustain the full life cycle on Earth.
“FIREWORKS” is entered via a ceremonial canopy of glowing metal rods, translucent bricks and wooden blocks symbolising the ritualistic elements of grilling and roasting with live fire. These elements are repeated throughout the space on walls and ceilings in different compositions of light, shadow and textures imbuing the whole dining space with a distinctive halo of comforting warmth and sophisticated drama.
Caucasian walnut and European oak are used for all furniture, carpentry and floors combined with full aniline leather upholstery in various tones of burnt earth, recalling the pigments used in classical paintings and wool-dyeing for local rugs.