Designer Marcel Wanders creates a destination within a destination, inspiring visitors to revel in all things Swiss.
As the designer Marcel Wanders says of his idiosyncratic hotel, Kameha Grand Zurich, in Glattpark, Zurich’s business district: “Others offer an interior design, but we offer a reason for a visit – we create a destination.” And the reason to visit this destination? To revel in all things Swiss.
And what do people think of when they think of Switzerland? Cowbells? Wanders’ lamps are oversize versions of the tinklers found around the necks of Alpine bovines. Chocolate? There are Toblerone-shaped sofas and chocolate-patterned leather wall panels, as well as giant milk bottle-shaped pillars throughout the hotel. Bank accounts? The minibars in the 245 rooms and suites are modeled after vaults, the bar’s walls are a facsimile of gold bullion panels, and there are round rugs fashioned after giant coins. Watches and clocks? Allusions to movements and mechanisms abound, and there’s the Watchmaker Suite. Even the less-celebrated Swiss art of paper cutting is incorporated, with the headboard in the Deluxe Suite based on the traditional technique of Scherenschnitte, a riot of snipped heraldic lions, Bavarian-style cityscapes, and, yes, more bells.
While Wanders’ primary design inspiration was Switzerland, international influences can be seen. The Shisha Lounge celebrates that popular Middle Eastern tobacco-smoking technique in which a bowl and hose are used. In the gentleman’s-club ambience of the Smoke Lounge, enlarged photographs of famous puffers, like the film director David Lynch, are mounted on the walls. Global gamblers can try their luck at the roulette table of the Poker Face Suite, one of 11 uniquely designed suites. And in the 701-square-meter Kameha Dome event space – the largest of its kind in the country – red fabric swags and a black-and-white tiled floor create a French Moulin Rouge feel.
For all those unique design elements, the Space Suite might top them all. The rooms were designed by German artist Michael Najjar, who honed his vision by undergoing astronaut training in Russia. A cantilevered bed appears to be floating like the mysterious ebony monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and spotlights on the ceiling look like rocket engine exhaust. There’s even a place to toss keys and cellphones: on the open palm of an astronaut’s glove mounted on the wall.
The Kameha Grand also has all the amenities expected of a lifestyle hotel, such as a spa and rooftop sun terrace with views of the Alps, and a short walk from the hotel’s shops and facilities sits a man-made lake and beach. But it is surely the singular design flourishes that guests will vividly remember.
As Wanders says: “A hotel should entertain, inspire, and stimulate. We want the guest to have a lifestyle experience by creating a place full of surprises and beauty.