Photographer : Matteo Carcelli, Becky Tsang
CI Design : CoDesign

You are camping with your friends and family. At night, you sleep in a tiny tent, you lie your head against the hard stone ground. You sacrificed yourself to mosquitos and braved the cold night, shivering. It’s not a comfortable experience, but years after it happened, you still talk about it with your friends. It was a memorable experience. It stays in your mind.

You are walking into a hotel. You feel a flush of anticipation, something tingly in your throat and stomach. The receptionist hands you your keycard to the room you booked. You’re curious, excited, and skeptical. Is the room as good as it looked in the photos? Is it worth your price?

The excitement in the process of discovering a new place is like unwrapping a gift given by your lover. A moment of joyful uncertainty.

When we were designing TUVE hotel, we wanted to heighten this sense of joyful uncertainty and spirit of discovery in the hotel experience. TUVE subverts traditions. It is unusual. It is not a place of regality or luxury, not a space that you’re used to seeing in travel magazines. It is an experience, a memory, a distinctive character that could be on par with the places travellers explore in the city.

The story of TUVE began when our client showed us a series of monochromatic photographs of a Swedish Lake in the Tuve Town, taken by the Danish photographer Kim Høltermand. In the photos are smooth rocks set in the middle of a tranquil lake; blurry mist engulfed the still waters. The enigmatic photographs of Tuve Lake sets the aesthetic mood for this project.

These are some of the things that pulls TUVE away from conventions and puts guests on a special and interesting hotel journey:

Finding the hotel is not straightforward. There is no apparent signage that indicates its location; the only signage is the building’s black outlook, recessed gate, and a plaque engraved with the hotel’s name on the ground of the street.

The light source for the 1/F reception primarily comes from recessed ground lights that light up the dark walls. In the lobby, you check in the hotel by standing next to the receptionist before a brass solid, rather than, like in traditional hotels, opposite to him or her.

TUVE plays with your senses. The spaces where you spend the littlest time are created with heightened visuals and sensation. The walls of the lifts are lined with dark oak wood. The primary light source comes from recessed floor lights, imbuing the tiny space with a mysterious ambiance. As you emerge out of the lift into the floor of the rooms, you enter another world. In sharp contrast to the dark lifts, the corridors are painted with bright white: the walls, the floors, the ceilings – all in white and basked in generous sunlight.

The spaces where you spend the most time in are packed with understated visuals but thoughtful details. Your hotel adventure is to discover these details. As you access your room, you find your desk, chair, and mini-pantry hidden inside a wooden “box” that you must “unwrap” to find these necessities. The walls are made of exposed concrete, and we made it unusual by speckling it with gold leaves.

Bend-steel fittings – clothing hangers, door handles, and light fixtures were made from the most straightforward bending techniques. Mixtures of mild steel and aluminium were cleverly folded into a multitude of different functional fittings, they are exercises of resourcefulness and minimalistic approaches to design.

Aesthetically, TUVE is characterised by light and shadow: the dance between light and natural materials defines its appearance. We chose to use relatively common materials such as concrete, galvanised mild steel, brass, oak, wired glass, but enhance their natural beauty and discover their aesthetic potential. This is achieved through the use of lighting. The concrete brick tunnel that connects the hotel gate to the lift lobby is lit up by recessed lights hidden on the ground, softly highlighting their rough texture. The natural wavy patterns of the reception lobby’s marble floor contrast with the horizontal shadows on the floor cast by vertical louver on the wall. Good materials are beautiful as they are, we need only to preserve and enhance their beauty.

TUVE is not a luxurious hotel but rather a refined experience: everything is subtle, understated, but well-crafted and elegant. We think a unique hotel experience does not require extravagant visuals but requires thoughtfulness behind each design element as guests discover the hidden surprises in each room – and that is what we have done while designing TUVE hotel.

The details