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Character Builder

(March 2017) posted on Thu Mar 16, 2017

Designer Hilary Lancaster does her history homework and shops locally to give a former office building near Amsterdam a homey new soul.

By Christina Green

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The site of the Urban Lodge Hotel is far from glamorous. When designer Hilary Lancaster first saw the exterior of the drab office building she’d been commissioned to transform into a trendsetting retreat, her heart sank.

Urban Lodge Hotel
Existing skylights are clad with reclaimed wood to highlight the lodge feel. A mix of fabrics inspired by Dutch tartan patterns imbues a sense of informality without looking busy. All photos: Frederic Ducout

“We joked about how the interiors would be a great surprise for guests because they would be so different from the exterior,” recalls Lancaster, founder and managing director of Fusion Interiors Group.

She’d been tasked with creating an inspiring environment within an uninspiring angular shell on a tight budget. But starting with a blank canvas meant her team could come up with a completely fresh idea. The result is a cohesive visual experience that pays tribute to the locale’s agrarian-meets-industrial roots in a way that’s authentic and anything but gauche.

The 120-key Dutch lodge is tucked just outside Amsterdam’s Sloterdijk village. Formerly occupied by farmland, the town became an industrial hub following the construction of a canal in the 1630s. About 200 years later, railroads began making their way through the area, which is now home to a major railway station connecting the village to the city’s center.

Urban Lodge Hotel 
A sea of repurposed boating lights, all of which Lancaster found in the same local store, nod to the nearby canal.

Dutch-Chinese entrepreneur Alex Chang had acquired the property because of its prime location near Sloterdijk station. That locale also became the narrative for Lancaster’s creative brief.

The amalgamation of two ideas—the site’s agrarian and locomotive heritage—was Lancaster’s stepping off point for creating the hotel’s name, interiors and branding. Following an extensive naming workshop in her firm’s London office, the moniker Urban Lodge Hotel was born.

“We decided to combine a lodge feel with a subtle industrial look,” explains Lancaster, whose multidisciplinary firm is based in London’s Shoreditch district. To avoid a trendy look that could be easily dated, the designer used the concept as her main focus for the design. “Once the soul of the hotel is defined, the spirit of the interior can live beyond trends,” she says.

Hilary Lancaster, Fusion Interiors Group


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