Kimpton de Witt, The Netherlands

January 3, 2018

Design firm Michaelis Boyd looked to a crisp architecturally-driven interior for Kimpton De Witt’s first hotel outside the US, while taking influence from the building’s Dutch roots.

The Kimpton De Witt in Amsterdam is Kimpton Hotels’ first destination outside of the Americas. Located in the heart of Amsterdam’s vibrant centre and within walking distance of Centraal Station, interior architects Michaelis Boyd has created a newly refurbished hotel boasting 274 guest rooms, including 15 signature rooms.

Working with Ave Bradley, Global Senior VP / Design & Creative Director of Kimpton Hotels, Michaelis Boyd designed a crisp architecturally-driven interior, featuring contemporary timber wall panelling, pale oak timber floors, steel glazed screens and bespoke terrazzo walls. The hotel design was inspired by the playful nature of Kimpton, with a contemporary architectural approach and a nod to traditional Amsterdam.

The ground floor has been reconfigured to provide a new entrance with a visual connection to the street and an improved guest journey through a series of lobby and lounge spaces. On arrival, guests ascend a white terrazzo staircase under a slim curved mirrored canopy, which punctures the glazed facade and runs seamlessly through to the internal entrance area. A bold custom green terrazzo wall defines the entrance and is complemented by the softness of a living wall, which runs the length of the entrance facade. Inset within the foliage are the words ‘and breathe’ in playful pink neon letters.

For the hotel reception area, Michaelis Boyd designed a range of graphic blue and white encaustic floor tiles inspired by the traditional Dutch delft tile. Behind the reception desk a ceramic tiled fireplace is surrounded by a ring of banquette seating, with cushions and blankets for reading and relaxing. Walls are animated with a bold selection of contemporary artwork and feature lighting in the form of a bespoke made Atelier Areti Alouette pendant, which is accompanied by the Porada floor lamp; Lambert et Fils Clark table lamp, and the Bolle chandelier from Giopato & Coombes.

The lounge areas use a combination of decorative lighting elements including Flos IC floor lights designed by Michael Anastassiades; Pin wall lamps from Vibia; the Dreistelz floor lamp from Kalmar; and the Tripode G5 floor lamp from Santa & Cole in the grand lobby area. “The concept was to use domestic light fixtures like those used around the home and arrange them around furniture clusters. These lights are integral in promoting a feeling of familiarity and a sense of home.

“The brief, set by the client, was to rework the internal arrangement of the space to improve the overall circulation and guest experience,” says Alex Michaelis, of Michaelis Boyd. “The decorative lighting is playful and thematic, which works in contrast to the architectural finishes and lighting. The lighting reinforces the concept of birds, botanicals and flowers – a language that runs throughout the hotel. We also wanted to make the spaces feel very residential, so the small decorative lighting elements such as desk lamps, table lamps, and floor lamps help to make it feel more like a home than a hotel.”

Mathijs Sommeijer and Ilse Dijkstra-Nugteren of Deerns Netherlands lighting design practice worked on the architectural lighting at Kimpton De Witt, which took on a supportive role to the rest of the interiors as Sommeijer explains: “Deerns was selected as MEP consultant for the project. During the process it became clear that there was a need to design the architectural lighting in close cooperation with the decorative lighting elements. The interior design – including the lighting fixtures – had to be the ‘eye-catcher’ in the space. With our architectural lighting design we made sure we created the proper ambient light to meet the regulations by using high quality fixtures from Xicato and let the interiors speak for themselves.”

Concealed within the centre of the hotel, a former lounge area has been reimagined as a new garden room, bringing in daylight and fresh air to the centre of the building, while acting as the terrace to the adjacent House Bar. “This fresh and ethereal space is now washed in an abundance of natural light during the day,” says Michaelis. “However, festoon lighting and lanterns provide subtle twinkles of light, bringing magic to the space in the evening and throughout the night.” The external courtyard is draped in cascading plants and swing chairs, enclosed within full height steel framed glazing, while internally, the floor is made up of a sequence of diagonally-laid oak planks inset with smooth square concrete tiles. This pattern continues through to the external courtyard and is formed using concrete pavers and black gravel. In the summer, the courtyard can be opened allowing the light and fresh air to permeate through. 

The House Bar is located within the historical Queen of Holland building. Featuring original beams and timber wall paneling, the interior is painted a dark glossy teal. Michaelis Boyd designed a bird motif wallpaper to run between the ceiling beams – this pays homage to the traditional painted murals that date back to the Dutch Renaissance. “The lighting in the House Bar was to be dramatic and moody within the context of a dark and sumptuous room,” says Michaelis. “The back bar itself acts as a feature lighting installation, washing bottles with warm light.”

“The architectural lighting is in perfect harmony with the decorative lighting elements and interior,” adds Sommeijer. “One of the main challenges we had on this project was the existing structure of the building as it sometimes provided very little space to recess the lighting and we really needed that space to minimize the possible glare of the architectural ambient light, but we worked around these challenges – as well as the tight deadline – to get the job completed in time.”

As the concept of flora and botanical runs through the hotel, the interior furnishings reference the natural world in a playful Kimpton way – deer, elk and bee doorknockers adorn guest rooms, bird pendant lights have been used, and beautiful dragonfly motifs have been incorporated into Kit Miles velvet upholstered Gubi chairs.

Moving upstairs, there are two interior palettes installed over the 274 bedrooms, providing guests with a unique experience with each visit. Smooth oak floors and colour blocked walls run throughout the guest rooms, which are furnished with a honed marble bedside tables, bold velvet fabrics and custom designed brass hanging rails.

The lighting in the bedrooms had to be playful yet functional and made clever references to the public areas, for example a smaller version of the Areti bird chandelier over the reception desk has been used to make the bedside lamps, accompanied by BL1 table lamps from Gubi. The guest bathrooms are defined by bright geometric floor and wall tiles and feature the Disc and Sphere wall light from Areti.

Reflecting on the project, Michaelis tells darc: “The outcome remained very much in line with the schematic designs presented at the start of the process. The materiality of some of the larger architectural elements have exceeded my expectations and add a real warmth and tactility to the spaces. It’s hard to communicate these elements through visuals, models or drawing presented during the early stages. The decorative lighting was integral in communicating the design concept. These pieces are prominently displayed within the spaces and often attract a lot of attention from visitors.

“We do a lot of restoration projects which favour a raw and industrial design aesthetic – a trend that is currently very fashionable. However, in comparison, this hotel is a little more refined and well considered while remaining playful and fresh. The materials are crisp and new and the furniture is eclectic yet comfortable.

“If I could have changed anything I would have loved to have more ceiling lights in the lobby and conference spaces. The new courtyard works so well to bring daylight into the heart of the building – it would have been great to do this in other places but we were restricted by the existing building and heritage restraints.”