Jestico + Whiles has completed Pure White, a 37-key boutique hotel located in Prague’s New Town quarter. The original building – which dates from the 1800s – was in a derelict condition at the project’s outset, but has been transformed into a polished and contemporary space. Hospitality Interiors’ Katie Sherry speaks to Sean Clifton, associate director at Jestico + Whiles’ Prague office, to find out more …
Building successful relationships is one of the key facets of any interior design business. This is something that Jestico + Whiles does very well, as the client of the recently-renovated Pure White hotel in Prague would testify. The design firm was hired for the project following a successful renovation of the Red & Blue Design Hotel Prague, and has already been appointed to design the client’s next big project – an early 20th-century industrial conversion in central Prague’s Old Town.
“Having already completed one boutique hotel for the same client, the collaboration was a very enjoyable process,” Sean says. “The brief was to create a fresh and luxurious feel, whilst retaining and expressing the historical features of the existing building. Regular workshops with the client – held throughout the design and construction process – ensured that the hotel was designed to be enjoyed by both guests and staff who would share the spaces on a daily basis.”
Describing the project as “tactile”, “plush” and “sculptural”, Sean expresses pride in the restoration of the unused building, which has a modern-style aesthetic yet retains the property’s historic soul. “A careful process of peeling back layers of history has revealed a building of stature, and provided the inspiration for a chic and contemporary refurbishment,” he says.
“Working closely with the heritage authority under the watchful eye of UNESCO, the facades, windows and doors have been restored to their former glory. Interior features of the existing building have been exposed and enhanced by contemporary custom-designed furniture, fittings and fabrics.”
Juxtapositions between old and new, rustic and lustrous and soft and sculptural are emphasised throughout – creating a striking and dramatic appearance. “The experience is tactile, where combinations of polished and natural surfaces express the essence of the material palette,” Sean explains.
“A new staircase guides guests via an expressive light sculpture to a sophisticated reception space, where original brick vaults have been exposed, and white and pastel shades complement the rich textures of the walls and ceiling. The copper cocktail bar features deeper tones and dramatic lighting. Plush sofas, rich textures, and artwork integrated into the tables’ surfaces set the scene for a unique experience.
“The bedrooms comprise a series of sculptural interventions. Brushed stainless steel four-poster beds are framed by full-wall artwork representing an abstract, digitised skyline of Prague, which is finished with a soft suede fabric. The bedside tables are expressed as floating transparent fabrics, and glass bathrooms discreetly enable the contemporary furniture to elegantly form a new layer of the building’s historical fabric.”
Although the mergence of history and modernity forms the ideological and aesthetic focus of the project, the process hasn’t always been easy – especially in terms of construction. “The primary challenge with this type of project is always to retain the existing historic roofscape and the appeal of the courtyard facade, whilst integrating new guest spaces within the structure,” Sean says.
“A careful volumetric study was carried out at commencement of the design process, and internal light studies ensured that the required variety of atmospheres was created. We also aimed to retain and restore as many parts of the historical building as possible, which provided the opportunity to reuse parts of the building such as chimney stacks to hide ventilation ducts and service runs.
“We further intended to be very sensitive towards the courtyard neighbours – hence the internal facade treatment was carefully designed to be historically accurate, and also adapted to suit the adjusted type of use of the building.”
Steps were also taken to amalgamate the property with others in the local area, as Sean explains: “New lighting was integrated within the window openings, so that the recessed frames were expressed rather than washing the whole facade, typical in many hotel projects. This approach subtly reintegrated the building into its surroundings – predominantly residential – whilst also ensuring the building was instantly recognisable to guests.”
What Jestico + Whiles has done, in effect, is give the property a renewed sense of purpose. While the building’s historic persona has been retained, its contemporary touches symbolise its new beginning. “We are simply delighted with the finished building,” Sean says. “The feedback from the client and the guests is incredibly positive, the quality of finishing is excellent and the building has a new lease of life.”