Oliver Redfern. Designer at Squid.inc
Squidinc have worked with Bespoke Hotels for around 10 years now and have been commissioned on hotels right across the group portfolio; from Cornish boutique hotels, to a glorious Art Deco building in central Manchester now know as Hotel Gotham.
They really are a great group to work for from a designer’s perspective, with work in grand period buildings to modern architectural masterpieces, it offers a fantastic variety to our job making it immensely stimulating.
Bespoke often have a strong idea in terms of what the brand direction of the hotel should be, but they leave it open to us on the interior look and feel. We then normally put together a concept, an early document of how we see the response to the building, which, get the creative juices flowing on both sides.
Telegraph Hotel was a little different because the owners had strong and clear ideas and largely we were aligned when developing the design. Working with them has meant, I believe, that we have ended with a better product. They are challenging, but in a good way, and that has been only positive.
When the project first came across my table, I had been to Coventry but didn’t really know the city, so I came over from my home, which is not too far away, and realised there was much more in the city than I had appreciated.
Architecturally it has so much to offer. In past years, the post-war architecture in the UK has had a bit of a bad rep outside of the design world but I think recently people have come to appreciate that it is good quality design.
And this is certainly true of the glorious Telegraph building, especially when we began to peel back the various layers. What often happens, especially with commercial buildings, is that alterations are hastily made to meet the demands of the day, they are crudely erected so the originality of the building gets lost to the eye, thankfully in this case it was just hidden awaiting to be rediscovered!
We have approached the design ethos as if we were opening a hotel in the 1950’s. That means you do not design as a pastiche, but rather a contemporary building of its time with materials that would have been readily available. Of course, there will be plenty of nods to its newspaper past in the form of artwork, literature, signage – things where you can spike people’s curiosity and arouse their interest rather than hit them between the eyes with it.
I would describe the look as “modern mid-Century, with a British quirkiness”. The owners love that period and I have had emails in the middle of the night saying they have seen something for sale which fits the period and we need to buy it. In true terms we have probably allowed a latitude of 10 years either side of the building’s true date, to take in items from the period.
Our role encompasses designing and specifying everything for the interior from the glorious Reception Terrazzo flooring to a bespoke chandelier in the restaurant, even the smallest details such as the period radios in the bedroom have been considered.
We have worked closely with the architects (HADFIELD CAWKWELL DAVIDSON) and operator Bespoke to ensure this hotel with be at the cutting edge of hospitality for the modern-day guest and is the hotel Coventry truly deserves.
I think it is a unique and exciting project – and I hope we have captured the clean lines and calmness of that period of design. I have been involved from an early stage and I can’t wait to see it coming to life over the next few months!