Graven Images breathe new life into the original ‘design hotel’, the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen
If Copenhagen is (more than probably) the best city in the world for its quality of life and status as a cutting-edge design centre, then Arne Jacobsen’s Radisson SAS Royal Hotel, the ground and first floor public areas of which are currently benefitting from a comprehensive ‘refreshment’ under the direction of the interior team from designers Graven Images, is one of its defining design statements.
The Danish capital was recently awarded top spot of the list of the world’s best cities in which to live by lifestyle magazine Monocle, and the SAS Royal which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this month, set the ball rolling when it opened as not only Europe’s but the world’s first design hotel. The pieces created by Jacobsen specifically for the hotel, such as the Swan and Egg chairs, are still specified worldwide to this day.
The building itself has an incredible history and pushed boundaries as soon as it was constructed; it was the largest hotel in Denmark when it was completed in 1960 as the SAS Royal Hotel and was the first skyscraper in Copenhagen, with interiors which epitomised the 60s – think Don and Betty Draper of TV’s Mad Men, or the young Britt Ekland.
Although it has remained a style icon during the ensuing decades, time has taken its toll on the SAS Royal with inevitable wear and tear resulting in the loss of some of its original elegance. In addition some of the public areas have been subjected to some unsympathetic interventions, such as the clumsy conversion of a smart and sexy concession boutique area into a restaurant.
Graven Images was commissioned in 2008 by Radisson as interior designers to restore the integrity of what is arguably the most important project undertaken by Arne Jacobsen, and certainly the best showcase for his trademark functionalist approach.
Graven Images’ mission was to bring the public areas of the SAS Royal up-to-date, incrementally restoring their design integrity and thereby making them accessible to a wider audience without compromising any of the unique features. The focus has been on streamlining and ‘cleaning up’ the original spaces, rationalising the layout and providing a more appropriate back-drop to showcase the original Jacobsen features.
The first stage of this process is the redesign of the existing ground floor restaurant space which will start on site this year.
Graven Images’ Design Director Jim Hamilton said, “It’s been an honour to work on such an important and interesting project, which is close to the hearts not only of the design community but of hotel aficionados worldwide. Our aspiration is that the redesigned public spaces will share many qualities with the old – it will be glamorous, stylish, contemporary and with outstanding comfort to attract a wide variety of clientele from Copenhagen’s own design and style conscious population, as well as visitors to the Danish capital many of whom come because of its reputation as one of Europe’s most important design destinations.”