We pay attention to what’s breaking boundaries globally. We want to know what’s new and what’s next. One such project that caught our eye was the Melbourne-based Adelphi Hotel, designed by Fady Hachem. Fantastical, bold and psychedelic, Fady’s design for the hotel reminds us of the modern experimental spaces of the ’60s by Verner Panton – you don’t just enter a building, you enter a world. Which is why we wanted to know a little more about this “world” and what the Adelphi Hotel experience is really about.
Your concept behind the design of the Adelphi Hotel is dessert. Where did you come up with the idea?
For my wife and I, dessert is the most exciting part of a meal, who doesn’t love dessert! My immediate thought was indulgence, instantly we were consumed by a conversation about some of our favorite desserts, which triggered the idea of the dessert hotel. My gut instinct was positive and the idea was born.
There’s definitely a lot to go off of from there… Hotel owner, Dion Chandler and you wanted the guests to ‘engage their senses’, how did you do that through design? How did you engage all five senses?
We wanted a luxury venue that aroused all senses.
Once I had elected desserts as a thematic base, my office could draw from an infinite palette of motifs and allusions. Texture, tone and pattern were primary resources. The lobby was transformed into a refined wonderland. The sweet scent of Om Nom dessert bar fills the air, jars of lollies and bowls of sticky toffee apple on at reception encourage guests to start giving into temptation.
Mirroring ceiling, graphic patterns, architectural lighting & furnishings all inspired by the dessert theme. The carpet evokes luxury candy, while the furnishings include custom designed licorice all-sort stools and a pink wafer bench. The art is rich and decadent. It’s the combination of these elements that engage the sensors.
In the suites, the objective was to inject a sense of luxury to an existing industrial canvas. Color and pattern are balanced by neutral walls, while textured furnishings brought in the luxury aspect. Throughout, the implementation of LED lighting was just one way that sustainable options were sought for the contemporary Adelphi. Each minibar of sweets is replenished daily and if that’s not enough guests can indulge in a dessert degustation menu.
Mmm, that sounds amazing. Especially for late-night cravings! What is something that you incorporated into the concept of the hotel that you feel is unique or unusual?
The reception is a real talking point. I am an advocate of showcasing local talent wherever possible. The horse sculpture by Tom Ripon is a standout. The idea of a reception desk which doubles as a dessert cart is a playful interpretation of the dessert theme.
How do begin the process of starting with an initial idea and develop it into a full-blown space? What is your process? Do you use a lot of mood boards, do you work the layout first?
At Hachem, our holistic approach to design embraces branding, interiors and architecture. Our point of difference is that we challenge our clients to tell their brand story through design excellence, to enrich the quality of the user experience. Design has evolved over the years. It’s no longer just about aesthetics, design has acquired a new skill-set, and the experience of the end user is as critical as the visual impact. So we always start with the end user in mind, and how their experience will play out. We create from there, with various mood boards and planning meetings. Each of the team offering something different so we’re all involved in this process.
You started designing at 19, was there ever a moment earlier in your career where you had to go through a big learning curve? What was a pivotal moment for you?
At first I wanted to be a painter, but decided on graphic design for career longevity. I studied a Bachelor of Graphic Design at RMIT and through this I was exposed to a range of design areas. When I graduated at 21, I convinced the owner of what is now Bond Bar that I could develop an interior concept and brand identity for the sites $2m overhaul. I was hungry for experience and my ambition was fueled by my gut instincts. This was a massive learning curve, I was sleeping at the bar and working 18 hour days. Since then I haven’t looked back.
You are leading the young, edgy design scene in Australia: what differentiates Australian design from the rest?
Australia generally has a refined approach to design. There is also a sense of understatement which is uniquely Australian in my opinion.
Where do you see design developing in the next few years? What sort of trends or points of view will become more appreciated?
The trend is moving towards custom experiences in the form of micro-environments. Sounds very complex, but essentially means that the immediate environment which people experience. The touch and the smell of the experience.
Do you have a mentor or a designer that has deeply inspired you?
I am inspired by particular periods in time. I particularly love Rembrandt and the Baroque period; this was the inspiration for the aptly named Baroq House which we are currently redesigning after a 10 year stint as one of Australia’s most successful bars.
I also admire Santiago Calatrava who really merges architecture and engineering to create masterpieces.
You’ve designed an award-winning bar, a trend-setting hotel… what would be your next dream project?
I have big ambitions! A dream project would undoubtable be a hotel on the water somewhere in the tropics. Not only does it require engineering feats to construct such a project, it also requires highly creative work in all aspects; architecturally right through to the interiors and functionality. It’s also the type of place I love to experience.
Thank you Fady, for sharing some of your process and inspiration behind this Willy Wonka-esque hotel. Next time we’re in Melbourne, we’ll be sure to stay at the Adelphi!