Things We Love: Escher-inspired Guest House

  • January 27th, 2019

For those who have visited the NGV’s Escher x Nendo – Between Two Worlds immersive exhibition, (and have become mesmerized by the dizzying and surreal works of master Dutch artist, M. C. Escher), this piece of whimsical interior design is for you – a hotel with maze-like rooms that bring the artist’s visual illustrations to life.

The Other Place is a 10-room boutique hotel in Pingle County – a southeastern part of China famous for its majestic karst mountains formed from eroded stone. 

The hotel aims to usher guests into an alternate reality, with the latest two rooms transformed by design practice, Studio 10.

“Escher’s works are absolutely inspiring for architects,” says Shi Zhou, Studio 10’s principal. “After visiting the site – then just a bare, concrete room – for the first time, while standing in the unusually high, chapel-like ceiling, I felt that this space offered the opportunity to do something spatially unique. An Escher-inspired design with surreal, anti-gravitational-like elements started to emerge.”

While no physical space can quite capture the strange, vertigo-inducing spatial confusion of Escher’s drawings, the guest rooms honor the original in a way that’s instantly recognizable – transporting guests to a dreamlike place.

With mind-bending stairways-to-nowhere and shrinking corridors creating trippy optical illusions, the rooms are fresh, unique and otherworldly.

Heightening the rooms’ surreal effect is the paired back, two-tone colour palette. The ‘Dream’ room features a pale pink and white colour combination, while the ‘Maze’ room incorporates vibrant shades of forest green to create the illusion of infinite space, making it hard to tell the difference between the floor and the ceiling (the fact that staircases sprout from the walls certainly doesn’t help). And to ensure that the spaces feel as otherworldly as possible, the designers hid all of the practical elements like power outlets and light switches behind small doors.

The design team sought to create a “mysterious, infinite and impossible space.” Once the team had figured out the technical aspects, there was then the matter of communicating instructions to some very puzzled local contractors – for example, the anti-gravitational stairs leading to doors that function only as semi-secret compartments. The Studio 10 team quickly realised that drawings were of no use and they had to provide directions verbally instead.

It can be argued that the spaces feel almost as though they were built for Instagram. Maybe, but you can’t argue that they’re not fun. And for the scrollers sitting on the couch at home after a full day walking around the NGV’s exhibition, this hotel certainly seems like the perfect place to escape reality.

Images via archdaily Photographer Chao Zhang

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