HBA unveils its design for Raffles Istanbul
HBA (Hirsch Bedner Associates), the global leader in hospitality interior design, has completed the new Raffles Istanbul hotel at the Zorlu Center, creating ‘The Dream of Istanbul’. 3 HBA offices from around the world were involved in the process in addition to the partner companies Canvas and Illuminate, which developed the hotel’s art collection and custom lighting strategy.
The 181-room hotel, perched atop one of the seven hills of Istanbul, overlooks the Bosphorus on the European side, features two swimming pools (one a magnificent sixth-floor pool with sweeping views of the city), a signature Raffles spa, a restaurant by Spanish Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola, a 24-hour butler service, and a full collection of original artwork.
At the heart of the Zorlu Center, a next-generation bazaar, where fashion, performance, and art converge – Raffles Istanbul is the perfect embodiment of the ’new’ face of Istanbul. Present day Istanbul is a fashion-forward European capital, and as such, various shapes and patterns in the design originate with motifs and detailing from the couture fashion world.
Lead Designer Sandra Cortner comments: “During the Byzantine era, it was common law that all free men were permitted to wear gold, but only the Emperor and Empress could wear precious jewels. These jewel tones are referenced throughout the hotel as details in the palette and selected artworks. Mosaic tiles, a popular decorative element used extensively in Byzantium, are also used as details throughout the hotel.”
As guests arrive at Raffles Istanbul, one of the first things they see is a magnificent commissioned work by internationally-recognized French hyper-photo realist Jean-Francois Rauzier. Matthew Whitaker, Director of Canvas (USA), states: “The art collection in the public areas is a thoughtful blend of international and locally commissioned artwork - a third of the artists featured are from Turkey - meant to appeal to the twenty-first century traveler who is increasingly more art savvy. Moreover, many of the works at Raffles Istanbul have been specially created. Curated for the overarching interior design concept – ‘The Dream of Istanbul’, there are direct references to Turkey’s history and Istanbul’s iconic landmarks, using Byzantine era mosaics and jewels, fashion, and referencing whirling motions associated with the Dervishes.”
There are four distinct dining venues, including Rocca, signature restaurant Arola by the Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola, complete with a private Champagne Room, and Raffles’ staples The Long Bar, and Writers Bar. Inge Moore, Principal and Creative Director of The Gallery HBA, elaborates: “Our aim when designing Arola, as well as the Raffles spa, was to reflect the energetic new vibe of Istanbul – avant-garde, cosmopolitan and full of optimism. Modern interpretations of ancient artistry and rituals create fresh and welcoming spaces that are in tune with today’s forward-looking guests”.
The epitome of the guest experience is realized inside the guestroom, where “The Dream of Istanbul” culminates in a custom mural depicting the “dream” derived from a composite of iconic landmarks like Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. Ethereal blues and greens anchor the dreamy palette, and hand-woven Turkish carpets adorn the hardwood floors. Every room has a huge balcony for wonderful panoramic views of the city and the Prince Islands. The Grand Ballroom features an impressive ceiling strewn with 2,316 crystal stars resembling the night’s sky. There are fashion motifs in the guise of pleated, upholstered walls and the exterior is adorned by three cast glass and woven metal mesh Kaftans by Turkish artist Yasemin Aslan Bakiri.
HBA designed the hotel’s guestrooms and suites, lobby, lobby lounge Lavinia, Rocca, pastry shop, Long Bar, Writers Bar, ballroom, meeting rooms, all prefunction, circulation areas, public restrooms. The Gallery HBA designed the Raffles Istanbul Spa, Arola restaurant, and the Champagne Room.