Jaime Hayon Reimagines a Room in an Iconic Copenhagen Hotel

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By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell
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 2014 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.

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."

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

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.

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Hayon sits in the Ro armchair he designed for Fritz Hansen, one of the items he placed into 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."

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

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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.

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"I designed the room 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." The seating area features a Favn sofa, Ro armchair, Analog desk and coffee table, Kaiser Idell floor and table lamp, all by Fritz Hansen. The Aballs pendant light is by Parachilna and the side table is by Bosa.

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Hayon used a color palette inspired by the hotel's past incarnations when designing the room. "I used color with a bit of contrast," he says. "Tones that had a big charge of grey—blue grey, pink grey etc.—and played with materials such as modern velvets and fine Danish textiles. The tones make the room elegant; the space feels peaceful, relaxing, easy, and cozy. To me, this brings back to a sort of 'Royal' look but in a very modern way." The ceramic Chinoiz table lamp is by Parachilna.

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

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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. I focus on the furniture—trying to find beauty from all angles and making sure they're functional. After I'm happy with the formal result, then I combine colors between the pieces. For example a painting will have some red and blue to match with some of the textiles I've used. If the painting has some black, then I will use a reading lamp that is also black. I always try a balance color in the spaces I design."

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This sketch shows the bed area of the room. In a hotel, "you want to relax and feel comfortable, like at home," Hayon says.

In designing the space, he chose items made from natural materials. "It all comes from the earth—ceramics, glass, marble, brass—as it has been since the creation of humanity," he says.

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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 a space."

To book a stay at the hotel and see the Jaime Hayon suite and Arne Jacobsen room, visit radissonblu.com.

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