This contemporary new hotel in Auckland is the first New Zealand outpost for Naumi Hotels, and marks the inititation of the Singapore hotel group’s wider expansion plans in Australasia and internationally.
Situated in the airport precinct, south of the city centre, Naumi Auckland offers a stylish stopover for leisure and business travellers. Its bold, playful interior is perfectly in tune with the Naumi brand’s ethos, creating an immersive experience for guests through a balance of functionality, art, and design.
This is the first hotel project undertaken by Auckland-based design practice, Material Creative, which has harnessed its fresh perspective to fully embrace a brief centred around originality and flair.
“We were approached by Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala, CEO of Australia and New Zealand Naumi, towards the end of the 2014,” explains Liv Patience, director at Material Creative. “He spotted us in the line up of interior designers who had won awards at the Best awards that year.
"The hotel’s interior pays homage to New Zealand’s native Tui bird, both in its references to the hues of its iridescent plumage, as well as in the branding and furnishings within the restaurant and bar"
“We pitched and decided to go as bold and unexpected as we could possibly do in the timeframe, and the rest is history. Gaurang wanted something unique and new in the NZ market, and by going with a team who hadn’t designed a hotel before there was a sense we could create from a clean slate with no precedent from previous projects.
“Our brief was to create a hotel like no other in the NZ market – a truly exhilarating experience and feast for all senses. The old Hotel Grand Chancellor Auckland-Airport required an entire re-fit, from adding a new front to the building and signage, to reception, bar, lounges and restaurant areas through to the bedrooms.”
The hotel’s interior pays homage to New Zealand’s native Tui bird, both in its references to the hues of its iridescent plumage, as well as in the branding and furnishings within the restaurant and bar.
“The first in the dawn chorus, last at dusk, often singing during the day while other birds are silent, the Tui’s beautiful melodies are heard before they are seen,” says Liv. “Seeming like quite an ordinary black bird when seen from a distance, on closer inspection in daylight they are an array of shimmering metallic-greens, blue, purple and bronze accents.
“Behind their neck is a lacy array of filament – like feathers, while the throat sports white feather tufts, all of which completes a very unusual and brilliant display.”
Upon arrival, guests enter into a double-height lobby, complete with lush green velvet drapes, a laser-cut acoustic ceiling chandelier, and the star of the show – a 24-carat gold leaf textured wall that represents the feathered nape of the Tui bird. Commissioned and made by the NY Art Department (NZ) over a six-month period, hundreds of individually-painted gold ‘feathers’ have been layered atop one another to create this exquisite backdrop to the reception.
Naumi Auckland’s 193 guest rooms come in four variations – Habitat, Oasis, Blush and designer-themed suites, each designed in colour palettes that evoke the multi-coloured iridescent sheen of the Tui bird’s feathers.
Natural, earthy tones combine with rich materials and crisp white linen here to create a warm yet contemporary ambiance. Designed to maximise space, the guest rooms offer customised 5-layer bedding, brass accents, and sultry mood lighting.
Colourful rugs, translated from landscape-inspired designs by artist, Belynda Henry, add vibrancy, while wooden panelling detail acts as an ode to the nesting nature of the Tui birds, realigned in a honeycomb pattern.
The guest bathrooms have been lined with tiles in a Herringbone pattern, using coloured grouting in fuchsia pink, aqua teal, nautical blue or cherry red to reference the Tui’s feathers.
In keeping with these references to the Tui’s shimmering tones, the hotel’s lounge area features an installation of 95 gold discs – hand-painted with feathers – in addition to rich layering of emerald greens, jewel blues and magenta pops.
“The hotel is designed to create ‘sweet spots’ that are aesthetically pleasing and mentally stimulating, through the unexpected and a sense of theatre"
Named Paska – meaning ‘wing of a bird’ in Sanskrit, the hotel’s restaurant and bar forms the beating heart of the hotel. A light feature reading “ruffle your tail feathers” sits above the bar, inviting guests to socialise, while oversize armchairs, textured rugs and striking chandeliers imbue a sense of the dramatic.
“The hotel is designed to create ‘sweet spots’ that are aesthetically pleasing and mentally stimulating, through the unexpected and a sense of theatre,” explains Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala.
One key way in which this is achieved is through artwork, and Naumi Auckland possesses an impressive gallery of works that embellishes the hotel from the entrance through to each and every guest room.
Featured artists include Belynda Henry – an Australian-based artist and winner of the NSW Wynne prize – who has been commissioned to capture the natural landscape of Auckland with multi-sensory pieces showcased in the hotel lobby, and New Zealand-based designer Judi Bagust whose whimsical signature brush strokes are reminiscent of the particular song of the Tui bird and complement the landscapes.
The Material Creative team has undertaken a significant hotel project as their first, entailing the internal re-build of guest room bathrooms and services ducts, re-roofing, new services, up-graded fire rating, and re-building the double height glazed front of the hotel – all whilst the hotel was still trading. The extensive work undertaken has meant, however, that they could intricately reimagine the space in as bold, and as impactful a fashion as they desired.
“We have produced an unexpected sense of theatre at Naumi,” affirms Material Creative’s director, Toni Brandso. “Creating a space that bridges the gap between residence and hotel; the public spaces are given more focus and prominence, and have become much more usable while engaging with guests and neighbours.
“There is a sense of an underlying informality while still being packed with colour and detail to stimulate both paid hotel guests and locals who can now visit the hotel as a destination space to dine and drink.”