Don Cameron is the film director that has curated the rooms at Hotel Hotel. Yes film director. This background may not be the obvious choice…the guy that directed Blur’s Music is my radar, Garbage’s Androgyny (ouah love that one) and the Pet Shop Boys’ Minimal music videos…but to us it makes total sense.
In a film Don is always looking at how images convey an emotion; which is exactly the same as for a hotel, the only difference being that it has to last. Don sees rooms as a set with props that are there to engage the guest to create their own narrative of rest and introspection. He sees the items that make up the interiors as unique characters that you interact with and that have a past; many of the pieces are vintage pieces that have been reupholstered and at times repurposed. The chairs are mostly 20th century pieces that have been sitting in a warehouse for the past 30 years, waiting for their cameo appearance. The in-room fittings (the bed heads, banquettes, wardrobe…) have been rebirthed from 200 year old oak reclaimed from granaries in the Loire Valley in France.
Staging for a meaningful experience is evident in Don’s description of a room, ”When you open the door you never see a work desk but instead you see a chair or piece of art presented in a situation of repose”. His process has been to strip back all the items usually found in a hotel room and replace them with unexpected items not usually put together (not The Usual Suspects…! I is the master of the bad puns).
Just as important as what Don has placed in the rooms is what he has decided not to place there. For example, rather than having desks, he has opted for a console arranged with “special objects” and flowers not as decoration but as a challenge to not come back to your room and work.
Don’s set inspiration began with the idea of an Australian shack influenced as well by shantytowns in Rio and Johannesburg. He interpreted this as a textural experience that he has achieved by using materials like unstained woods, clay rendered walls, natural fibre wallpapers, leather, mild steel, brass, linens and Berber weave carpets; as well as playing with light. The eternal mantra for this project was “no veneers” and it extends to the building itself. Wherever possible the process of construction and the architecture has been acknowledged.
To get the set just right Don went so far as to redesign the pieces that didn’t make him happy like taps, towel rails and brass tables. His thinking around these designs were again a study in feeling. For example, he has designed the unscreened wardrobes in such a way as to encourage guests to unpack their bags and hang up their clothes so that it feels more like you are moving in, not just staying over.
His favourite rooms are number 133 “for the journey down its long corridor, meeting up with a hung boucherouite rug, not knowing where the path leads. Then the right angle where you are presented with a bed and off it a sitting area. As you approach the window you get a view of the central atrium that offers you an intimate look across the space of the internal hotel. Once there you notice that there is another door that leads into the bathroom which opens into a huge space with bath, twin head shower and a five metre benchtop. That for me is a beautiful room in terms of the surprising unfolding narrative that you get physically moving through the space.”
“The other room I really enjoy is 211. You are right on the nose cone of the building and you feel like you are floating above the view. As you walk in there is a dressing area with a wall presented art work. You can either go right into the bathroom that has structural columns inside the space or you go through to the bedroom which is a trapezoidal shape and again you have structural columns in the room. I like that in 211 you have a sense of structure in the building. This exposed structure playing against a beautifully restored wooden chair. These are the sort of narratives and dialogues I wanted to create.”
(photos © Lee Grant)
THE HOTEL HOTEL SET
CONSOLE AND BEDHEADS
THE CAST PRE MAKEOVER
(photos by Don Cameron)
BOLSHY AUSTRALIAN, BORN IN THE 1950s, PAUL KAFKA SHELL BACK CHAIR. ROOM 115
EASY GOING AUSTRALIAN MID CENTURY EASY CHAIR. ROOM 114
ORNATE FRENCH EGYPTIAN WROUGHT IRON CHAIR
(REQUIRES AT LEAST 5 LITRES OF CHILLED PERRIER IN HER TRAILER AT ALL TIMES)
RAG RUG STOOL DESIGN DEVELOPMENT BY DON CAMERON
THE TEXTURAL INSPIRATION – AUSSIE SHACKS