Benjamin Budde | October 25, 2013
Walk into one of the WCs in the main women’s restroom at Fei Ultralounge, part of the W Guangzhou hotel in China, and you’ll find a toilet, of course. But there’s no sink in sight. What you will see is a wall of white solid-surfacing, six layers carved like a topographical map, in a free-form shape surrounding a glowing aperture that quietly invites you to stick your hand inside. When you do, a motion sensor activates a waterfall-style faucet hidden above—the water flows into a basin below. “Washing hands is a very mundane action, but we treated it with a playful and artistic touch,” A.N.D. (Aoyama Nomura Design) creative director Ryu Kosaka says.
He calls the concept “water in the grotto.” It’s part of the “organic” feel he gave to the various restrooms, both standard and VIP, as a way underscore the divide between Fei’s private and public areas. The atmosphere in the latter is decidedly high-tech—he calls it “digital”—in response to the architecture he was handed.
When he first visited the hotel under construction, the space intended for the nightclub was an empty glass box three stories high. “It was enormous, and the massive framing of the curtain wall made it feel oppressive, like an airport or a convention center,” he says. To encourage hotel guests to party till the wee hours, he broke up the volume’s vertiginous verticality. Most of the bar on the bottom level is sheltered by a lounge, which approaches the curtain wall but doesn’t touch it. Above the lounge, though not extending as far, is the VIP balcony, bringing total square footage to 10,000.
The staggered levels soften the visual impact of the volume’s height. To do the same for the curtain wall, he draped it with a “light curtain.” As the night goes on, thousands of fiber-optic strands are computer-programmed to pulse and change color from white to aqua to fuchsia.