Some hotels become tourist destinations by virtue of the musicians that have crashed there in the past, but the Nhow Hotel, a music and lifestyle hotel in Berlin, plans to attract musicians to its rooms by offering room service guitars and a fully-loaded recording studio. The hotel is located on the Spree river, in an industrial stretch between the Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain neighborhoods, which marks the old divide between East and West Berlin. The hotel’s interior designer,Karim Rashid, considers his work there as an extension of the symbolic location to the contemporary divide between digital technology and spiritual well-being.
Karim Rashid is an Egyptian-born industrial designer working out of New York City. Industrial design only really describes his early work, as he has since branched out into projects including hotels, restaurants, subway stations, fashion, identity, and so on. The common thread running through his eclectic portfolio is defined in his “Karimanifesto,” the final lines of which read: “We should be conscious and attune with this world in this moment. If human nature is to live in the past – to change the world is to change human nature.” Whether or not a monumental shift in human nature can be achieved by design, there is no doubt that his work is concerned with the present moment and attempts to engage people with it.
While the interior may be focused on the present moment, the exterior points to the past. Designed by the architect, Sergej Tchoban, the hotel reflects its industrial surroundings with an austere clinker brink façade. Less conventionally, the Upper towers, comprised of the 8th through the 10th floors, are cantilevered over the river, giving the entire hotel the look of a crane. Furthermore, the underside of the cantilevered section is clad in polished aluminum, creating a mirrored surface visible from the roof patio below. The crane-like profile of the hotel recalls the industrial history of the river Spree. All this, however, is in complete contrast to the colorful and curvy interior.
Rashid is famous for his pink suits and there is no shortage of the color to be found in Nhow. Guest are received at a sculptural reception desk, shaped out of a high-gloss fiber glass whose flowing shape is typical of the “blobjects” that furnish the hotel. The tiles in the lobby are printed with a motif representing the flow of digital information, which reappears all over the hotel in carpets, upholstery, wallpaper, and towels. This visualization of the transference of digital information that invisibly envelops us is part of Rashid’s project of attuning us to the present. The psychedelic intensity of the intersecting lines could just easily be overwhelming and cause one to close their eyes and tune out the present décor.
The vibe of the guest rooms differ depending if you are on the east or the west side of the hotel. The east rooms are supposed to be invigorating with their sunrise/sunset color scheme of gold and fuchsia. If you want to mellow out, then check into a west side room, decked out in cool gray, blue, and pink. Musicians can either practice in their room on a Gibson guitar, found on the room service menu, or head down to the music studio operated in conjunction with Lautstark Musik GmbH/René Rennefeld, who also manage the famous Berlin Hansa studios. At 450-550 euro per day, most struggling musicians will have to settle with the music lounge/bar, where they can kick back and soak up some inspiration from the glowing neon jukebox.