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Make it Werk

Munich, Germany

Aparthotel group Locke opens an outpost in Munich, with interiors by Fettle that play on the city's pioneering early-20th-century design movement

In just five years aparthotel group Locke has made a distinctive imprint on the hospitality scene, with its mix of spaces “designed to be lived in” and a strong creative streak when it comes to the interiors. Having tested the blueprint extensively in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, its first mainland European opening is in Munich, with interiors designed by in-demand hospitality specialists Fettle, led by Andy Goodwin and Tom Parker.

Any savvy hotel group knows that the could-be-anywhere approach – in branded livery and with every space uniformly similar all over the world – not longer cuts it, and Locke is no different. Fettle has given the 151-room Schwan Locke that desirable sense of place by looking to the city’s early-20th-century design traditions, and in particular the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) movement.

This precursor to the Bauhaus sought to unify craftsmanship with industrial production, creating objects that were functional yet beautiful and available to the masses. “This manifests itself in the final scheme through the simple but visually striking architectural design as well as the colour palette,” says Parker. “The furniture also draws on this inspiration through its simple, clean lines, which are combined with bolder, striking, and varied material choices in both the hard finishes and the fabrics.” Chrome, opal glass, marble, oak and mohair are some of the recurring palette of materials that help to unify the diverse number of spaces that Fettle has designed.

The entrance lobby is particularly striking, clad in facing mirrored panels that endlessly reflect the green ceiling and an infinite grid of non-nonsense bulkhead lights, while diagonals of alternating black and white stripes on the tiled floor add to the trippy effect. The interiors are relatively calm by contrast, employing colour blocking to delineate spaces: chunky architraves are painted rust red, standing out against white panelled walls, while in the guest apartments, twin-toned walls sit against furniture from the opposite ends of the colour wheel – minty green and egg-yolk yellow, for example, or terracotta and bright blue. The colour lends an irresistible cheeriness and sense of welcome to each space.

Hotel guest rooms often present a challenge to designers, with the need for multiple functions within a relatively small space, while still giving off an air of luxury – and the added constraints of cooking, dining and living areas bring another layer of difficulty. “In the very early stages of the project, we looked at all sorts of ways of defining the spaces including screens, glazed walls and curtains,” says Goodwin. “In the end we created a divide using what looks very much like one continuous piece of furniture, to transition from headboard to low level wall to banquette. We felt that this created a series of small ‘moments’ within the room, catering for the different needs of the guest, while also keeping a feeling of openness, without making each individual area feel cramped or claustrophobic.”

As well as being able to cook and eat in their rooms, guests have plenty of communal space in which to relax, including a co-working lounge, bar and coffee shop. The Werkbund-inspired upholstered furniture, such as the chrome-framed lounge chairs in every room, was all designed especially for the project, augmented with pieces by brands including Hay, Petite Friture, &Tradition and Adico.

Whereas the guest rooms are all about the division of space, “the public areas are made up of a series of smaller spaces which needed to flow seamlessly together,” says Parker. “This pushed us to be very careful with the starting and stopping of certain finishes and colour palettes to make the transition between spaces subtle yet defined.” The coffee shop at the entrance features a rattan-fronted oak counter, sitting under a glossy green ceiling hung with opal glass pendants; while the bar area has a handsome curved timber bar surrounded by geometric floor tiles, and custom-designed upholstered chrome bar stools with fluted chrome bases.

While the Werkbund references are no pastiche, Fettle has paid direct homage to the movement, an in particular its women, in the art it has specified. Local artist Veronika Grenzebach has painted the portraits of those early-20th-century pioneers such as photographer and sculptor Marianne Brandt and designer Lilly Reich, with flat planes and pastel tones that chime in beautifully with the interiors themselves.