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Architecture and fashion have many overlaps, both as industries with extraordinarily wide spectrums of high- and lowbrow and as media composed of historically dynamic relationships between interior and exterior, function and expression. While numerous projects have paired architecture and fashion together as harmonious, cross-pollinating art forms—and many a dramatically oversized couture piece has been described as “architectural”—few works of architecture have been so directly conflated with fashion. This undertaking currently belongs to a little hotel in Amsterdam.
Hotel The Exchange is a new project seeded from a concept by Suzanne Oxenaar and Otto Nan, initiators of the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy. The hotel is but one part of ‘The Red Carpet,’ an urban-renewal effort to improve and diversify the area surrounding the Damrak, an unassuming street running from Amsterdam Central Station to the Dam Square.
The space of the project consists of three buildings condensed into one, the oldest composite building dating back to the 17th century. The hotel re-imagines Dramak as a catwalk, and the 61 rooms within Hotel The Exchange, each ranging from 1 to 5 stars, have been dressed by graduates and alumni of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute as if they were naked mannequins, blank canvases that welcome eclectic interior designs and wear them like garments.
The rooms range from minimal to indulgently avant-garde, with only a few that take cues from traditional interior design practices. Without a standard template to which to refer, Amsterdam’s young fashion designers filled the spaces with their own furniture, light fixtures and conversation pieces, creating what certainly appear more like spatially exploded couture pieces instead of artfully embellished lodgings. Some rooms are covered wall-to-wall with local artisanal textiles, draped with sheer muslin or dangling ropes of braided fabric, studded with patterned wall decorations, and accented with wiry ornaments. Visitors can choose to stay in a Frida Kahlo-inspired womb of sorts or opt for more stark surroundings that are sure to make the stay in Amsterdam feel more like a performance art piece. One thing is certain: turnover service got a lot more complicated when the hotel hired this eccentric bunch of interior designers.