Long hallways draped in subtle colour tones and finely detailed carpets. Danish company ege carpets has been a leading collaborator in the thorough renovation of Hotel Danmark in Copenhagen.
What does a sculptor from the past have to do with carpets? Well, at Hotel Danmark in the heart of Copenhagen, a Danish sculptor named Bertel Thorvaldsen, born in the 18th century, was a major source of inspiration. The Thorvaldsen Museum is just around the corner from the hotel, and designer at ege carpets, Karen Lund Hansen, researched Thorvaldsen’s life and work and, ultimately, brought him back to life in the hotel carpets.
“In a project like this, our ideal result as designers is to present a carpet design proposal that fits the architects’ masterplan. Then the architects establish the framework, and it’s up to us to discover the world of ideas within this frame,” explains Karen Lund Hansen, who then continues by talking about the idea’s origin:
“At the briefing, it was mentioned that the inspiration for this refurbishment should be the Thorvaldsen Museum. In addition to the very unique architecture of the museum, which is definitely very inspiring, I thought it would also be interesting to take a closer look at the artist and his life. So, you could say I chose a non-figurative angle,” Karen Lund Hansen says.
Thorvaldsen’s life history included an Icelandic father, a mother from the Danish west coast and a life in both Copenhagen and Rome. The challenge for Karen Lund Hansen was how to make these four different places fit together in a carpet design, and create a flowing story going through the two hotel buildings, from respectively 1798 and 1967.
“The real challenge was to create a modern design that could fit with both buildings, while at the same time retaining the essence and DNA of Thorvaldsen. The carpets I have designed are inspired by knitting patterns and cross stitch. The patterns are contemporary but also refer back in time,” the designer explains.
Colours for the carpets are inspired by the four places that featured prominently in Thorvaldsen’s life. The grey and brown colour tones are inspired by weather-beaten driftwood and lava stone found on the shores of Iceland. The vivid green shades mixed with brown colours symbolize the fields and forests of his mother’s homeland. Copenhagen’s bustling 18th century cityscape inspired the multi-coloured carpets where greens and browns are mixed with copper and red brick hues, and, finally, the carpet designs incorporating light tones of grey, beige, terracotta and ochre resemble the sun-bleached ancient architecture of Thorvaldsen’s favourite city, Rome.
Good Collaboration Produces Good Results
The renovation process at Hotel Danmark has been in progress for around a year, and the small team of architects, painters and designers has worked closely with the owners of the hotel during the entire process. The collaboration between the partners has gone smoothly and, according to Karen Lund Hansen, that’s attributable to good relations between the individual collaborators and good work from the architects.
“We have had meetings where we introduced our thoughts to each other. I had plans for the colours and patterns on the floors, while the painter had ideas on texture and colours for the wall surfaces. We haven’t had any issues, and I think it’s because the architects know us both from previous jobs, know what we stand for and what we can do, and that has definitely made it a whole lot easier,” she says.
Trust has been an important factor in both the design and work processes, and the owners and architects having the courage to trust the specialists’ ideas is one of the reasons why the refurbished hotel buildings look like they do today.
“When you are brave and dare to do something ground-breaking, you end up somewhere special. The final result at Hotel Danmark is notable and stands out because the owners and the architects have been gutsy and have been able to imagine what it would look like in the end,” says Karen.
To Karen it has also been a privilege to work on a project like Hotel Danmark; it’s jobs like these that challenge her as a designer.
“The owners and architects gave me the opportunity to operate freely, and as a designer it’s both exciting and challenging to just open up, play and create your own design universes. My story of Thorvaldsen has come to life and I think we have succeeded in bringing the museum into the hotel,” the designer ends.