From red to white. On the ground floor of the new Casa Camper hotel in Berlin, the simple gradient of hues sets the scene for the multi-use check-in counter, shoe display and Café Camaleon. Through the room’s open windows, the vivid tones artfully announce — and embody — the Camper brand, sans logos and text. All it takes is colour.
Designed by Rotterdam-based architects MVRDV together with Mallorca’s GRAS Arquitectos and Berlin’s Laura V Rave, the new space revives the public face of a hotel opened in 2009 (a hospitality extension of the global Camper shoe brand that evokes the functional, yet stylish, simplicity of the beloved footwear). The use of ombré subtly demarcates the room’s varied and evolving uses while creating a distinct visual identity.
In the lobby section, it’s all red. Serving as Casa Camper’s main entrance, the open space welcomes guests with a continuous 18-metre counter. At the entrance, crimson red frames the check-in desk with a subtly dramatic ambiance. Past the check-in, the open room — divided only by a curtain beyond the hotel lobby’s couches — slides into an informal shoe display space (devoted to Camper shoes, of course) and a coffee shop as the rich hue elegantly fades to white. The loose boundary between the café and the check-in allows for the pop-up retail space to stake a prominent temporary presence without disrupting surrounding functions.
From the counter’s resin panels to the printed wood that adorns the wall and the cement-based floor tiles, the colour transition is deftly translated across a variety of materials and spaces, making for an artfully unified gesture. On the floor, the cement was mixed with changing ratios of red, clear and brown recycled glass to achieve the effect, echoing traditional techniques from Mallorca, where Camper was founded.
For the designers, the simple yet rigorously executed motif gives character to an otherwise spare room, while also maintaining a flexible space that can evolve to suit changing uses.
“Flexibility is a key design principle for sustainability; you need to make things that can be changed without using resources,” says MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs. “But in architecture this type of flexibility is often represented as a kind of blandness or boringness. So for Camper we introduced an outspoken colour gradient to illustrate that the different activities could shift and merge inside one long room. It is flexible, but it also grabs your attention.”
And at night, the warm lights come on and the end of the ombré turns to a rich gold hue. On either side of its open 12-metre window, the simple café and restaurant moves with the pulse of Berlin’s street life, the interior becoming (almost) an extension of the sidewalk. It is, true to its name, a sort of urban chameleon.
A pared down multi-use space in the German capital is elevated by the artful — and functional — use of colour.