“Grand Hotel. Always the same. People come. People go. Nothing ever happens” It’s with this that one of the most famous American films of the ‘30s comes to an end — the legendary Grand Hotel by Edmund Goulding, taking home an Oscar in 1932 for its adaptation of Vicki Baum’s novel Menschen im Hotel. In the last year’s of the Weimar Republic, what animates, shakes and intrigues the luxurious — yet fictitious — hotel in Berlin, is a vibrant slew of characters. Produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film would launch a new format of all-star features, choral plots interpreted by a wide range of divas, and stories of love and mystery played out by the most important actors at the service of MGM: brothers John and Lionel Barrymore; character actor Wallace Beery; the promising starlet Joan Crawford; and the divine Greta Garbo, here in the role of Grusinskaya, a Russian ballerina who falls madly in love with the thief Felix von Geigern. Everything — drama, illusion, joy and sorrow — occurs inside the hotel rooms, stealing the show from the city and becoming the glue for the fragmented guests it hosts. At the center is the hotel’s main hall, set to the rhythm of the rotating door as it opens and closes, echoing the busy chatter of visitors.
Today, the frenzy of check-ins, check-outs, suitcases, trunks and transfers are all a distant memory. In the momentary parenthesis of summer, international flights gave way to highway queues, while destinations abroad were sidelined for a more local tourism. And it’s with this, in the shadow of a pandemic, that traveling has changed — but not forever. Soon we’ll return to the concierge desk once more with requests for a quieter room, and between coats and smartphones in search of charging stations, we’ll take to the sofas and armchairs of common areas and lounges. Of course, the quality of hospitality will come first and foremost, along with the comfort of furnishings and a marked sense of safety. It’s exactly this that we see in the fifth edition of the Elle Decor Grand Hotel, the annual autumnal event of our magazine, which in a signature project, has tracked the evolution of hospitality spaces since 2016. The IperHotel, designed and conceived in an original digital showcase by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba within the interiors of Milan’s Palazzo Morando (online until January 31, 2021), considers the future of the hotel by imagining the habits this global health emergency has imprinted upon us.
But more than social distancing, the spaces speak of intimacy: furnishings punctuate the hall and lounges to recreate private and close corners. The language of interiors then translates a new well-being that doesn’t exclude physical and spatial sharing. While the entrance is marked by large sofas and small round tables, three rooms dedicated to the visual arts, reading and music, were conceived to welcome shared cultural moments in the name of a rediscovered conviviality.
If cum vivere, living together, is what awaits us in the not too distant future, the world of design has proclaimed itself as a key driver in the definition of post-pandemic habits, and time is left to play its part. With this, we present our Design Favorites of the Week, a virtual journey through the spaces of the IperHotel: a selection of signature furnishings found in the hall and lounges at the center of a renewed idea of the Grand Hotel. A space where, for the moment, people come and people go at the click of a button.
Vitra - Lounge Chair & Ottoman
The Lounge Chair was designed by Charles and Ray Eames with the goal to combine an elegant appearance with maximum comfort, recognized around the world as a classic of 20th-century design. Offered in two sizes with various configurations featuring different types of leather claddings, a shell and base in wood, the Lounge Chair is ideally completed with the paired ottoman.
Cassina - 836 Tre Pezzi
Franco Albini designed Tre Pezzi in 1952, together with Franca Helg. The large and enveloping upholstered forms combine the stylistic essentiality of geometric forms with a sensation of extreme comfort, while a frame in tubular metal is inspired by scaffolding tubes. The result is an armchair that has kept relevant to this day with a scenic stage presence.
Poltrona Frau - Let it be
Inspired by the global hit from the Beatles, the Let It Be sofa is designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba, expressing a relaxed and welcoming philosophy down to its name, far from formalism and convention. Let It Be is a modular system open to infinite configurations; the composed sofas can also be completed with shelves and containers that further expand the piece’s overall function.
Mogg - Metrica
Mogg has realized a special edition of Metrica, the metal bookcase designed by CtrlZak, for Mohd, where a total black finish comes complete with crystal shelves. While the structure is kept simple, iron rods establish a stable rhythm at diverse intervals, fixed to an openly rigorous architecture in which books and objects are inserted to craft countless new compositions.
Finn Juhl - Cheiftain Chair
The iconic Chieftain Chair is an absolute masterpiece designed by Finn Juhl. Upon its introduction in 1949, the chair marked a renewal in the tradition of Danish furniture design. Inspired by modern art, the Chieftain Chair, with its organic forms, was liberated from traditional Danish design and rigorous functionality in form, construction and materials.
Giorgetti - Galet
A pebble is the surface on which an entire world of images comes to life. Designed by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba, Galet is a small table whose irregular top comes in various prized materials, including the special glossy lacquer realized by hand with a shaded and striped effect. The table also flaunts a base in leather and a top in Canaletto walnut with a marble effect.
Flexform - Bangkok
The Bangkok pouf, designed by the internal division of Flexform, is a passepartout accessory for both its refined production and pragmatic use. A parallelepiped with blurred angles and a solid structure in wood and metal comes with countless cladding options between fabrics and leathers, but it’s in the refined leather or interwoven suede version that it takes on an unmistakable personality.
Zanotta - Sacco
The idea of the designers behind the Sacco chair — Gatti, Paolini, Teodoro — was that to realize a universal chair capable of adapting itself to the body in any position. Considered one of the most brilliant and celebrated objects of Italian design, it comes void of any rigid structure and is born colored, light and anti-conformist.
Knoll International - Tulip
Eero Saarinen promised to address the ugly and confused world he observed under chairs and tables — the so-called “slum of legs”. An exploration of design lasting five years led him to create the revolutionary Pedestal collection, including the Tulip Stool, introduced in 1958.