Is dreaming a little like flying?
If any proof were needed of the ceramic tile industry’s ability to adapt to the latest interior design trends, one need look no further than the Holiday Inn Express Malpensa. Proposing a space based on a strongly contemporary language, the project supersedes the iconography of transit spaces which, even at a medium to high level, often convey a standardised image in terms of spatial layout and materials. Through an in-depth study of the colour palette and the use of large, continuous surfaces to expand space, this project’s interior architecture has joined forces with pictorial art to spark emotions.
Located close to Malpensa airport about 45 kilometres outside Milan, the hotel complex is an excellent example of hospitality architecture. It successfully combines spaces, sophisticated furnishings and different functional areas such as the reception, the bar and the breakfast room, all integrated in a large area of around a thousand square metres. This highly symbolic space serves as an ideal gathering point, both for work meetings and for relaxation after a long flight. “My idea,” explains architect Lucia Barbieri, “was to create a space with a fresh, youthful feel in tune with the hotel’s brand that at the same time would have character and personality. I used fairly new techniques because I wanted the hotel to express itself through visual communication. This involved combining a small number of materials with a strong personality to create what in my opinion is a harmonious but bold blend. I used decorative resins to achieve this goal. Images, texts and photographs convey a very direct message so anyone entering the hotel will know exactly where to find what they are looking for.”
The aim of the project was to create meticulously designed functional spaces as well as places whose image is in harmony with the technological contents of airport architecture, a nodal point between two physically opposite polarities but connected to the world of long-distance air travel. It is an arrival point for international travellers who are capable of appreciating not only the comfort but also the aesthetic quality of up-market hotels.
“I wanted the hotel to express itself through visual communication.” This was the concept behind the project, a pragmatic approach that reflects one of the dominant design theories of contemporary architecture: in other words, a project that conveys messages through a strong brand identity. The architectural project is conceived as a kind of icon capable of expressing sociocultural values that can be shared with the reference target. The project concerned the floor covering of the entire ground-floor reception area and breakfast zone. Tiles from the Le Resine collection from Ceramica Fioranese were chosen for their unique characteristics, in particular the grey colour which enabled them to coordinate perfectly with the synthetic resins used on the walls. “Not only is it an excellent ceramic tile from a structural perspective,” explains Lucia Barbieri, “but it also allowed me to give added value to the project. And in view of the excellent results achieved when installing it on the floor, I also decided to use it on the vertical surfaces so as to obtain something a little different from run-of-the-mill wood panelling. I used the same material to create buffer strips and perimeter cladding with an exceptional quality-to-price ratio.”