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Art Informs Architecture

This hotel by Rothelowman architects explores the nexus of architecture, design and art.

Art Informs Architecture


February 18th, 2009

The Olsen Hotel is set to become a landmark in Melbourne’s South Yarra. Designed by Rothelowman, the design draws from, and pays tribute to, Australian artist John Olsen.

The firm is familiar with art-inspired hotel projects, having done the architecture and interiors for The Whiteley and architectural concepts for The Larwill.

“Interior designers and architects are artists too,” says Associate Principal, Andrew Wales. “When we designed The Olsen, we were inspired by John Olsen’s lyrical style and we were respectful of his extensive body of work.”

The hotel will feature original artworks by Olsen, including a specially commissioned piece that will hang in reception. “Some people will arrive at The Olsen not even knowing who Olsen is,” Wales says. 

“We want them to leave having some idea of the sort of work Olsen produces without overstating it.”

Olsen’s works will be incorporated throughout the interiors with glass partitions between bedrooms and bathrooms using a subtle watermark of his Spoonbill bird, while carpets in the corridors will employ the same fluid freeform shapes indicative of Olsen’s work.

Further to this, the architecture of the building makes reference to art, with an outer skin of opaque glass creating a sense of a canvas draped over the hotel’s façade. Olsen’s works will also feature in the windows.
“The lightweight, white curtain wall alludes to a tent-like structure and the idea of short-term accommodation that this conveys,” says Chris Hayton, Rothelowman Principle. 

“We did a lot of research into Olsen’s work to discover his inspiration and found a consistent fineness and elegance in his work that we carried over into the building design,” he says. 

“Hotels are normally quite heavy designs but The Olsen is a celebration of fine lines, delicacy and a lightness of expression evident in Olsen’s artwork,” he adds.





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