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Aesthetically gritty, undeniably hip: The Strand Hotel with George Gorrow

A collaborative design project has delivered an elegantly layered hotel in Sydney. Take a tour with Public Design Group and George Gorrow of Ksubi.

Aesthetically gritty, undeniably hip: The Strand Hotel with George Gorrow

The Strand hotel effectively embodies the new wave of contemporary cool spearheaded by Ksubi genius George Gorrow as creative director (his latest adventure Non-Type is genius again, but not as well known… yet). Think slouching silhouettes in unrivalled denim, minimalist lighting and a sound track that shuns the favourites — and that’s just Ksubi!

When paired with the incredible Tom de Plater of Public Design Studio, Gorrow has found an aesthetic soulmate to explore a Parisienne experience in the heart of Sydney. It should be noted, however, that Parisienne here does not mean the classic Haussmannian style, but the cool end of Paris, where chic meets street.

George Gorrow.

“The way I look at working with a hotel is very similar to how I would approach holding a fashion show. From the launch, to invite, to line up, to the opening track, to the opening outfit; at every touch point we are creating one moment attached to another, creating an experience. Here you play with graphics, sounds, set design, textiles, choreography, etc. It’s similar to how we holistically concept the hotel, interior design, art, sound, smell, and taste; I feel like you can continually go deeper and deeper into every layer of the hotel,” says Gorrow.

Describing the mood as a dirty martini, Gorrow was aiming for classic with a twist: “My purpose is for the character of the hotel to grow and continue to build over time, just as if you were building your own home. If it was a song it would be Sebastien Tellier’s ‘Look’ or Roland Ray’s ‘Girl on my Mind,’” says Gorrow.

Character-filled and interesting at every turn, the interior is layered with details and nuance: “Hotels for me fit perfectly with where I’m at in my life. For things to have a sense of permanence, over fashion which can move rather fast, hotels allow you to continually build and add endless depth. It’s allowing me to pack all the things I have played around with in life into one project; service, space, smell, taste, sound and so on,” says Gorrow of the shift from fashion to hospitality.

“When I get comfortable at something, I tend to seek new adventures. I enjoy the uncertainty and adrenaline that comes with trying something new, something out of my comfort zone. This mix of things I have played around with has allowed me to really enjoy working holistically on the hotel.”

Related: “This hotel is an ode to maximalist bohemian luxury”

Comprising 17 bedrooms over two floors, plus rooftop above and bistro below, the rooms range from solo traveller to residential-style suites. What makes them particularly good is the strong direction of dark floors and darker drapes paired with crisp white sheets, textured rugs and simple cream walls.

Sounds simple; it’s not. It is a balance of blocked strengths of moody and classic elements that pull in neither direction. As such, the original architecture of the 99 year old building is allowed its glory without interfering with the contemporary feel of the whole.

Furniture is clubhouse style with an old tan chesterfield in one room and club chairs, marble tables and brass drink caddies in others. It is a clever and flexible solution with small rooms not cluttered and large rooms not empty. Rattan bedheads with deep green detailing continue the Paris aesthetic with considerable charm.

Artworks for the rooms are well selected and far from the boring prints of many, while in the hallways Garrow’s selection of Australian photographers (including Simon Lekius, Denniela Rache, Chris Searl and Domonic Rawl) functions as an insider’s guide to the diverse subcultures of Sydney. Coming off a spiral staircase, the hallways are a (kind of) navigational experiment — so relax, enjoy the photography.

As Gorrow notes, the foyer is fleeting: “The arrivals area at The Strand is a small point of entry, a landing into the humble boutique hotel that then takes you onto your next adventure — whether that be The Bistro, The Hotel or Rooftop Bar.” Once there, the Rooftop is effectively an escape for hotel guests and locals to soak up the afternoon sun, enjoy live entertainment and weekend DJs. As such is it uncluttered and streamlined with timber floors, a boarder planting that will become lush with time and three setting types in multiples.

In all, however, the lines are minimal and sufficiently distanced for groups to organically expand: “We’ve designed the rooftop to provide an unexpected and charming escape amongst the anonymity of William Street, with a deliberately strong contrast to the aesthetic experienced through the brooding texture and materials of the hotel rooms and bistro below,” says Tom de Plater.

The signature French Ginger Mule and Thyme & Basil Daiquiri are just about perfect, as is the food — which is possibly the most Parisienne element of the whole project. Here, culinary director Nick Mahlook pairs steak frites with spoons laden with beluga caviar and iced trays of oysters. Très très très bon.

PUBLIC Design Studio (PDS) is a multidisciplinary collaborative design consultancy with a dedicated approach to research based design and delivery.
Public Design Group

Ksubi, founded in 1999 by George Gorrow, is undeniably one of the most coveted Australian fashion labels in the world.

Non-Type, as the name suggests is a morphing of genres without rating or rating or agendum, an open door with a license to roam across all fields of mens wear apparel and accessories.

Trent van der Jagt

We think you might also like this article on Ace Hotel in Sydney.

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