While I was writing one of my recent articles on the city brand of Berlin, I came across an eye-catching concept of a funky hotel. Astonishing design delivered by Karim Rashid certainly signaled a serious presence of funky branding in the concept (Funky Brands™, if you recall, owe their success to a combination of astonishing design and smart brand strategies). I got in touch with nhow hotel and am happy to publish my interview with Hermann Spatt, General Manager of this hotel.
Olga Slavkina: How would you describe the brand of nhow hotel in a couple of words?
Hermann Spatt: I could describe it as a lifestyle and music hotel.
Olga Slavkina: Is nhow Berlin part of a bigger chain of hotels?
Hermann Spatt: It belongs to the NH hotel group, which has 400 hotels around the world marketed under different brand names. The nhow hotels are positioned as lifestyle hotels, and currently there are only two of them -- one in Milan, and another one in Berlin.
Olga Slavkina: What’s the company’s plan as far as development of the nhow brand goes?
Hermann Spatt: The NH hotel group intends to build 15 nhow hotels around the world, with only one hotel in each of the chosen countries. Besides positioning each hotel as “lifestyle”, there will be other brand associations suitable for each city where nhow hotels will be opened. For example, Milan is all about fashion, so nhow in Milan has been designed as a lifestyle and fashion hotel. Berlin is all about creativity and music, so nhow Berlin is a lifestyle and music hotel. We’ll use this kind of approach for all of the upcoming hotels in other cities.
Olga Slavkina: As I wrote in my article Funky City Brands: Berlin, the city’s creative spirit is remarkable. What role does music play on the cultural scene of Berlin?
Hermann Spatt: Berlin is becoming increasingly known because of its large presence of music recording houses, located in the same area as the hotel, near the river Spree. At the hotel, we have two professional recording studios, managed by René Rennefeld and Daniel Schmuck. Rennefeld also manages Hansa Studios, where U2 and David Bowie recorded their music. Hansa Studios also produced LouBega’s Mambo No. 5.
We also hold Open Mic Nights on a monthly basis -- there’s a stage for music performances in the lobby area. These monthly events give local and international talents an opportunity to perform in front of an audience of hotel guests, music lovers, as well as representatives of the music industry -- for instance our neighbors MTV and Universal.
Olga Slavkina: Let’s speak about the work that Karim Rashid did to design this funky space. To what degree has he contributed to the concept of the hotel?
Hermann Spatt: Karim Rashid’s involvement in this project has been substantial. Usually, designers of this calibre tend to work only on a few features of a single hotel. In the case of nhow, however, absolutely everything of the hotel’s interior has been designed by Rashid. Every carpet, and every towel, all the wallpaper and furniture -- everything has been designed by him. And because Karim Rashid is a very funky guy, you can see that his creation looks extremely funky, too. The space looks so unusual for a hotel, that many people call it a museum -- a museum where you can actually live.
Olga Slavkina: Perhaps because of its music studios, nhow comes across as a center of culture and entertainment, not just a hotel. Could you share some of the highlights of nhow’s cultural agenda for the coming months?
Hermann Spatt: The gallery space right now and for the next five months is home to the DAD (Dutch Art & Design) Gallery, exhibiting and selling various items of contemporary Dutch Art & Design including interior design solutions (i.e. furniture), paintings and various funky accessories. The current feature artist is Peter Bastiaanssen.
Besides being a cultural center, nhow is a business conference center.
Olga Slavkina: What kinds of companies organize their events at nhow?
Hermann Spatt: You’d be surprised, but even quite conservative companies with traditional corporate brands organize events here. In a way, our hotel provides a unique chance for them to show that they are open-minded, and appreciate a contemporary, funky style. Hosting an event at nhow provides companies with an opportunity to show an exuberant, fresh image to clients and suppliers, or to spice up its brand image internally, vis-a-vis employees. Just being in our hotel for a couple of days together with your colleagues, or clients, can help you make your brand a little bit more funky.
Olga Slavkina: How would you describe your hotel guests?
Hermann Spatt: We have a lot of business people staying at our hotel. I’d say, many of them come from creative industries -- music and entertainment. Of course, these are funky people, those who appreciate arts, design and music.
Olga Slavkina: Thanks for the interview and I wish you a lot of fun developing and strengthening the funky brand of nhow Berlin.
Learn more about Karim Rashid on Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/artist/karim-rashid
All photos in this article are courtesy of nhow Berlin.© 2011 SCHMOOZY FOX. Funky Brand Interviews is a trademark of SCHMOOZY FOX. All material on this site may be freely cited provided the source is given. Please use the permalink of the article. If you would like to syndicate the full text of this article, please contact Olga Slavkina at olga (at) schmoozyfox (dot) com