Jaime Hayon is Given the Keys to an Iconic Copenhagen Hotel

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By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell
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In 1958, Arne Jacobsen designed the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen—an emblem of midcentury Scandinavia.

Every detail from the structure (which was Denmark's first skyscraper) to the cutlery, furniture, and lighting was of Jacobsen's design. Over the years, the hotel changed ownership and most of the original interiors have been lost. To celebrate the reissue of the Drop chair, which was one piece Jacobsen specifically created for the hotel, furniture maker Fritz Hansen invited Spanish designer Jaime Hayon to renovate Room 506 in the manner of the iconic designer.

Spanish designer Jaime Hayon was invited to renovate room 506 in the Arne Jacobsen-designed SAS Royal Hotel. Hayon preserved the original interior architecture, but furnished the space with contemporary and reissued items.

Spanish designer Jaime Hayon was invited to renovate room 506 in the Arne Jacobsen-designed SAS Royal Hotel. Hayon preserved the original interior architecture, but furnished the space with contemporary and reissued items.

Hayon retained the room's original architecture to pay homage to Jacobsen's work and furnished the space with pieces he designed for Fritz Hansen, Danish textiles, and new lighting alongside decorative accents like paintings and ceramics. "As an artist and a furniture designer, I focus on the small elements rather than in the big space," he says. "If you're comfortable on your chair, and it feels good, that's a really good starting point to have a successful space. Then I focus on the rest of the room in terms of color, ambiance, and lighting." 

Hayon sits in the Ro armchair he designed for Fritz Hansen, one of the items he placed in the room. "As an artist and a furniture designer, I focus on the small elements rather than the big space," he says. "If you're comfortable on your chair, and it feels good, that's a really good starting point to have a successful space. Then I focus on the rest of the room in terms of color, ambiance, and lighting." 

Hayon sits in the Ro armchair he designed for Fritz Hansen, one of the items he placed in the room. "As an artist and a furniture designer, I focus on the small elements rather than the big space," he says. "If you're comfortable on your chair, and it feels good, that's a really good starting point to have a successful space. Then I focus on the rest of the room in terms of color, ambiance, and lighting." 

Using a color palette inspired by the midcentury helped Hayon link his work to the past. "It's interesting to read history looking at the choice of color and the choice of elements in a space," he says. In the video below, Hayon gives a tour of the renovation.

Arne Jacobsen designed nearly every element of the hotel, including the built-ins, textiles, and accessories. In addition to furnishing the rooms with existing pieces from his portfolio, Jacobsen created new pieces for the hotel, like the Drop chair shown in this archival photo.

Arne Jacobsen designed nearly every element of the hotel, including the built-ins, textiles, and accessories. In addition to furnishing the rooms with existing pieces from his portfolio, Jacobsen created new pieces for the hotel, like the Drop chair shown in this archival photo.

A limited number of Drop chairs were made for the hotel, then production ceased. In 2014, Fritz Hansen revived the design. Hayon upholstered this particular one with bold, blue fur.

A limited number of Drop chairs were made for the hotel, then production ceased. In 2014, Fritz Hansen revived the design. Hayon upholstered this particular one with bold, blue fur.

"I designed the room the same the same way I think about my own house," Hayon says. "I wanted a nice place to read, a lovely desk to write on, and a sofa for relaxing or conversation—plus some beautiful accessories and plants."

"I designed the room the same the same way I think about my own house," Hayon says. "I wanted a nice place to read, a lovely desk to write on, and a sofa for relaxing or conversation—plus some beautiful accessories and plants."

"I designed the room the same way I think about my own house," Hayon says.

The panoramic window defines the space. "It's the most important architectural element in the room," Hayon says.

The panoramic window defines the space. "It's the most important architectural element in the room," Hayon says.

Hayon's sketch shows how he mixes color, textiles, and furniture in the room. "It's like cooking a meal," he says. "I have a lot of ingredients and I need to combine them well to get the right flavor. After I'm happy with the formal result, then I combine color between the pieces."

Hayon's sketch shows how he mixes color, textiles, and furniture in the room. "It's like cooking a meal," he says. "I have a lot of ingredients and I need to combine them well to get the right flavor. After I'm happy with the formal result, then I combine color between the pieces."

Hayon points out, "I always try to balance color in the spaces I design."

Room 606 in the hotel is preserved exactly as Jacobsen designed it. "I love the idea of preserving history," Hayon says. But hotels are made to be used and furniture faces a major test in these spaces. It's interesting to see history by looking at the color choice and choice of elements in the space."

Room 606 in the hotel is preserved exactly as Jacobsen designed it. "I love the idea of preserving history," Hayon says. But hotels are made to be used and furniture faces a major test in these spaces. It's interesting to see history by looking at the color choice and choice of elements in the space."

After being out of commission for more than 50 years, the Drop chair is now fully back in production and available in a wide range of color and upholstery options—a number of the various choices are shown here. 

After being out of commission for more than 50 years, the Drop chair is now fully back in production and available in a wide range of color and upholstery options—a number of the various choices are shown here.