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Rogue Ones

(April 2017) posted on Mon Apr 24, 2017

The hotel industry is reinventing itself with accommodations in art galleries, suspended cabins and disaster-proof buildings.

By Oriana Lerner

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The question for hospitality designers used to be, “What’s design?” Now, the first line of inquiry is more like, “What’s a hotel?” Owners, investors, developers and brands are taking their projects out of the traditional box and finding fresh ways to make concepts work within their physical and cultural environments.

BnA Hotel
Run with the wolves in Tokyo's BnA Hotel Koenji. Natural textures offset a vivid art piece. Photo: Courtesy of BnA Hotel Koenji

Today, mixed use can mean accommodations scattered throughout art hot spots in a Tokyo vintage shopping district. An upscale resort can be a cabin suspended at the top of a Swedish forest. And inspiration can reshape architecture that needs to address anything from storms to seismic shifts in an Italian earthquake zone. Follow three trailblazers who are breaking new ground.

BnA Hotel Koenji
Tokyo, Japan

Check in at the bar? Why not? Check out some local artwork along with the receipt? Why not?

The brainchild of Tokyo-based based Keigo Fukugaki, founder and ceo of multidisciplinary design firm Makeshift Inc., the hotel (currently encompassing a tiny renovated building that now houses a bar for locals, a basement art gallery and a terrace along with the property’s two art hotel rooms) serves as a platform for local artists to both express themselves and make a living. The artists selected by Fukugaki and his team of business partners, Yu Tazawa and Yuto Maeda, and art director Kenji Daikoku, not only design the rooms but receive a share of the hotel’s profits. Fukugaki also wanted to move beyond the idea of a hotel as a self-contained structure.

Zigzag art comes off the wall and onto the beds. Colored illumination gives artistic license the green light. Photo: Courtesy of BnA Hotel Koenji

“The concept for BnA Koenji is to build a hotel where the guest rooms are dispersed around the town,” says Fukugaki. “The streets become our hallway, the local shops become our gift shop and the cafe down the road becomes
our restaurant.”

Scattering rooms throughout the neighborhood (future plans include 35-40 rooms across Koenji) means that each one has to be its own microcosm. To do that, Fukugaki and his team turned the creative reins over to the artists themselves, letting them come up with their own concepts and then offering the technical support to realize their vision as a fully functional hotel space.


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