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Getting the Balance Right - Isay Weinfeld

Posted: 16/09/11 15:52

Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld can boast a hospitality portfolio that includes the iconic Hotel Fasano in São Paulo, just one of his many signature modernist hotels and restaurants around the world. He explains to Ellie Stathaki how to balance drama with elegance.

It was a little over ten years ago that Rogerio Fasano came and asked me to design the Fasano Hotel in São Paulo, which was my first hotel commission. Indeed, this first collaboration went so well that we repeated it quite a few times. I have designed many projects for the Fasanos since, including the Barett Bar, as well as other hotels and restaurants, in Brazil and abroad.

In every hospitality project, getting the balance right can be tricky. The aim is, of course, to create a unique guest experience through great architecture, but comfort is always the most important element. I think it is essential to understand the client deeply, be they an independent hotelier or a chain, as it is the combination of their personality with the spirit of the site that will give me the key orientation for the design.

I like to get fully involved in every hotel I design, preferring to do both architecture and interiors if I can. To be honest, I don't think I could work any other way. Unless it is the case of a protected building, like the one I have been working on in Salvador, I will only take an assignment if I am commissioned to design it all, both the building and the interiors, to the smallest detail - to the point of organising the books in the shelves, hanging the pictures and picking the flowers.

My most recent hotel projects include the Fasano Las Piedras in Punta del Este, Uruguay, which opened in January, and the Square Nine Hotel in Belgrade, Serbia, which opened in March. But I am working on even more hotels at the moment, in Brasilia, Porto Feliz, Salvador and Trancoso.

If I had one piece of advice to offer when it comes to choosing a hotel to stay in, I'd say go for one where the bed is more comfortable than your own. As far as my personal preferences go, I don't think I have a favourite holiday or business hotel as such and I wouldn't go for a design hotel either. I have to admit that I tend to like those somewhat old, decadent places you find sometimes that have a doorman who calls you by name, aged waiters and a club sandwich that beats my own.

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