10 September 2023
5 min read
With 182 rooms, The Playford Hotel has been welcoming guests for 25 years – offering a taste of what life might’ve been like in the late 1800s to early 1900s, with style cues from the era.
Following the need for revitalisation, the latest iteration of the family-owned hotel has seen a fresh twist with architectural firm Hachem working its magic to reinvigorate the accommodation and its public spaces with rhythmic curves, elegant furnishings and decadent flourishes – the high level of detail evident throughout each space carefully brought to life by Chroma Group.
“The brief was to maintain the existing character of the Art Nouveau style, and it was our intention to reinvigorate The Playford by romanticising the Art Nouveau period to restore a sense of place to this iconic hotel,” shares founder and principal director, Fady Hachem.
“We design with narratives and storytelling at Hachem, and we wanted to underpin the design with something that was really quite special. So, we decided to narrate this space into a quintessential ‘Art Nouveau’ story – the maestro, his muse, and their mansion – each area with a little bit of a different twist.”
Beyond the existing facade and porte cochère, the transformation of the space can be seen as soon as guests step into the lobby.
“You’re confronted with this really beautiful, decadent, handcrafted brass reception desk that is a sculptural piece. We thought, instead of simply injecting artworks, let’s have some key elements within the space, and one that is also functional.”
Backdropped by elegant Art Nouveau-style panelling, this first touch-point for guests sets the scene for the hotel with its sculptural and organic shapes, arches and curves.
“It’s a very inviting, but also very impressive experience as you enter this space,” says Fady. “We’ve carefully crafted the design to keep the elements that we thought were really important, and then value-added other design elements into the space to capture a contemporary Art Nouveau palette. Everything we’ve done is contemporary Art Nouveau – not specifically a copy. We can be inspired by it, but it’s very important that we don’t replicate, and this is our approach to every design – particularly when we are referencing more classical or historical periods.”
Fady explains that the lobby and foyer area speaks to the ‘masculine’ aspects of Art Nouveau (the ‘maestro’), while the hotel’s rooms and suites – referred to as the boudoirs (the ‘muse’) – focus more on the ‘feminine’ aspects.
“We’ve very carefully crafted each room,” explains Fady, with guests able to choose from standard rooms – the Classic Guest Room or the Deluxe Guest Room – generously-sized suites with separate bedrooms, or loft-style suites where a kitchenette and separate living space is found downstairs, with a plush bed sitting on an elevated mezzanine level.
Across all, the palette is soft and subtle in its tonal variation with luxurious finishes.
“It’s very important to be comfortable in bedrooms. It’s not about being overly designed – I think you need to be very restrained in the way you design a hotel room,” says Fady.
“All of the furniture has been custom made, with care taken to resolve the finer details just right to speak to the era of the hotel design, such as the forms, fabric choices and details such as stitching and pressed metals.
“The bedhead has been crafted with an Art Nouveau pattern that has been quilted on a contemporary fabric. I love going to a hotel room and seeing a beautiful bedhead that has had a lot of thought put into it; it’s not just panels on the wall or wrapped fabric. It’s a real distinction.”
All of the furniture has been custom made, with care taken to resolve the finer details just right to speak to the era of the hotel design, such as the forms, fabric choices and details such as stitching and pressed metals.
Another thoughtful element of each room is the minibar, hidden from view in bespoke Art Nouveau cabinetry.
“It has all the elements that you really need and it’s a considered piece – both a functional and sculptural object within the room.”
Fady’s favourite part of the accommodation, though? The lofts.
“They have a double-height volume with stairs leading up to a mezzanine area, and they’re very quirky in terms of their spatial configuration because there wasn’t repetition in floor area for each loft – we had to be very creative in how we laid out the furniture. But they all have a strong character; as soon as you walk into the loft spaces, they just hit you with this graceful and luxurious rendition on Art Nouveau.”
One especially powerful aspect, says Fady, is the lighting. “The double-height volume allowed us to install a sculptural chandelier in each loft, while the abundance of natural light and the way the shadows play on the walls just makes these spaces magical. I really wanted to create something special for Adelaide.”
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