Going for Baroque
"Cottage hotel" doesn't even begin to describe the elaborate
Rineke van Duysen -- Interior Design, 1/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
In 2004, Marcel Wanders took a drive outside Amsterdam's city center to the riverside village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. There the virtuoso Droog cofounder ate at Lute, a restaurant owned and run by the equally virtuosic chef Peter Lute. A mutual admiration society developed, with design and lifestyle notions exchanged over veal tongue with mustard and glasses of Australain Shiraz. One evening, Lute and Wanders hatched the idea of expanding the restaurant into the quirky hospitality venture that is Lute Suites.
The restaurant already occupied an 18th-century gunpowder factory, and the new suites would take over a row of gabled worker's cottages on the factory grounds—one suite per cottage. All seven command views of the slow-flowing Amstel and those famous blue Dutch skies.
From the outside, the cottages remain much as they looked in the days when the main modes of transport here were the skiff and the oxcart. Inside, Wanders employed finishes and furnishings sumptuous and inventive enough to make any design aficionado shiver with joy. Think weirdly shaped ceramic table lamps sculpted in 60 seconds, tufted leather covering an entire wall, wallpaper in the style of Mariano Fortuny damask, and inventively used glass mosaic tile. "Unlike product design, interiors are about theater," Wanders says. "They lead you from one idea to the next and the next."
Behind an oak front door, each multilevel suite is unique, mixing opulence and austerity, whimsy and grandeur. Aside from style and size, which ranges from 440 to 670 square feet, all suites share a luxury-minded take on the long-stay experience, offering a large living area, a fully stocked kitchen, and generous sleeping quarters, often in a loft under the pitched roof.
Wanders's modern baroque aesthetic is the real five-star attraction. In suite five, which has a surfeit of windows, the entire mezzanine is what Wanders calls an "open-concept wet room." Its wooden flooring is relatively restrained. Sitting in the middle of it, though, his oversize white Soap tub looks like a giant bar of Ivory. By contrast, in a suite with more space challenges, Wanders draws attention away from this deficiency with a metallic theme, including a gold-leafed ceiling and a zinc-accented bathroom.
Although tile figures prominently in every suite—spiking into silvery snowflakes, undulating in subtle tonal waves, blooming in black-and-white flowers—one suite outdoes the rest. In the living area, an egg-shape cocktail table is a psychedelic trip of glass mosaic tile flowers in yellow, blue, green, and black. The shower's walls are striped in bands of red, white, gold, and silver mosaics. And the stair hall's black ceramic-tile floor is inlaid with swirls of steel.
All told, Lute Suites is the apotheosis of what makes Wanders famous: the outsize and unexpected rendered, almost always with a wink, to meet the Dutch national mandate of form serving function. But even if his knotted-rope chair isn't precisely to your taste, Peter Lute's signature breakfast surely is—it's a wooden box spilling over with fresh cheese, bacon and eggs, pastries, and preserves.