Hotel

The entire interior of the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is the work of Patricia Urquiola, the Spanish designer, now based in Milan, who is renowned for her gleeful, often multifunctional pieces for companies such a B&B Italia and Moroso. The architects of the project (the Barcelona-based OAB Office of Architecture) opened out the Mandarin’s façade by installing an ascending ‘catwalk’ from the pavement to the main entrance. From there, you pass through the ground level of a dramatic, bathed-in-white atrium that ascends the hotel’s full height of eight floors (the building was completely gutted for this project) and arrive at the small lobby. Even for the casual visitor, the mirrored ceiling, scattered pieces of contemporary art and pair of Mollino chairs in this lobby only hint at the riches beyond, and you meander onwards and into Blanc, the lounge-restaurant that Urquiola describes as the ‘heart’ of the hotel. Here, Urquiola has combined elements from east and west and injected them with her own signature style. For Urquiola, ‘orientalism’ is defined by shade and protection, the repeated subdivision of space, and the shadows cast by canopies and screens that provide shelter for private, perhaps clandestine, activities. In the restaurant-lounge, she has wrapped the space in a suspended white element that she calls the ‘birdcage’, which creates a space within a space. The rooms and suites of the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona have been created for comfort and ease of use. Spacious and luxurious, the rooms carry a starting rate of almost €600 a night. ‘What we wanted to do with the hotel is to surprise people,’ says Urquiola. ‘It was a risk for the Mandarin Oriental Group, but it was a calculated risk. This is a timeless hotel. It will actually look better in 20 years’ time.’ For more on this project, see the full article in issue 74 of Frame, available from 1 March.