The Invisible Party creates a Rotterdam hotel where there’s no reason to get out of bed
When Jacqui Abbot sang, “this could be Rotterdam, or anywhere,” it was shorthand for a familiar urban soullessness – a city filled with ‘beautiful blondes’, yet also dull. Now, of course, the reference is moot. Rotterdam’s story is one of transformation, once considered gritty but today a mecca for contemporary architecture, a nursery for imaginative lifestyle concepts and a popular home for young creative types, most of whom were drawn on the promise of cheap rents.
But while the city has more than its fair share of resident plugged-in millennials, it’s the travelling variety that a recently-opened, 28-room boutique hotel seeks to tap – inviting the digital generation to discover the destination and disconnect while there, in bursts at least.
Interior designed and branded by Amsterdam-based The Invisible Party, Hotel Unplugged is billed as an ‘extension of progressive Rotterdam’, a place where weary hotel norms are abandoned in favour of youth-centric innovation.
“We wanted to create a glitch in time,” says Vivian van Schagen, creative director of The Invisible Party. “Once you step inside you enter a vibrant wonderland with a vivid and vigorous design aesthetic.”
Set across five floors in a former municipal building, Unplugged features a neighbourhood café, co-working spaces and three floors of guest accommodation. Rendered in pastels (mint green, pistachio, quiet lavender and coy pinks), with ample terrazzo and neon detailing, there’s an air of 90s nostalgia. It’s a knowing nod for those old enough to remember the tropes, highly timely for those who aren’t. Meanwhile the idea of unplugging is abstracted and presented as a black-and-white TV noise pattern on pillow cases or as austere paintings redolent of sockets by artist, Enrica Masi.
We wanted to create a glitch in time...Once you step inside, you enter a vibrant wonderland with a vivid and vigorous design aesthetic
But the true spirit of originality is ultimately realised in how the spaces have been used, and in the consideration given to how they will be. One of the challenges of converting an older building is what van Schagen describes as, “suboptimal floor layouts.” But long, thin would-be bedrooms prompted novel responses from the studio. Guests enter via bathrooms which, although unusual, offers the remainder of spaces up for more practical use. Furniture is both space-saving and lifestyle-conscious. Desks are multifunctional and beds, the ‘hubs’ of guestrooms, are intended not only as places to sleep, but to work and even meet with others – with surfaces for laptops, compartments to stow luggage and safes for valuables. In smaller rooms, they occupy the entire window area, maximising natural light and creating a more immediate connection with the surroundings; a reminder that this is Rotterdam, not just anywhere.