Project name: Absheron Lobby & Tea Lounge
Category: Lobby/Public Areas
Location: JW Marriott Baku- Azerbaijan
Date completed: 2015
Interior designer: Henry Chebaane
Architect: Reardon Smith
Hotel Group: Marriott Hotels

The classic hotel lobby has been re-imagined as a modern luxury vision of Central Asian hospitality, the ground floor lobby is conceived as a large art gallery, comprising 10 locally inspired tableaux that nod to Baku and the Absheron peninsula—names that respectively translate to “wind-pounded city” and “place of salty waters” in Persian.

The design concept includes a vertical oversized carpet made of walnut timber with abstract 3D elements in scalable patterns that reference geometric Shebeke, a local style of stained glass. A ceiling installation also reinterprets these geometric elements with botanical-mineral patterns made of walnut veneer and polished stainless steel edges. Along with crystal-inspired seating, a series of geode-like E-Booths in walnut and polished stainless steel punctuate the space and function as individual business centres.

The first floor tea lounge space is articulated around a central four-sided tea studio, from which radiate clusters of loose seating and eclectic furniture to evoke a virtual caravansarai (traditional Central Asian traveller’s inn or camp). The camp is anchored by the central tea altar and studio, where boiling water on tap technology enables a dramatic tea-making protocol, producing rising steam as the boiling water is poured from the tap to the solid surface and caught by beams of special spotlights. The project brings together several large scale art and cultural concepts wrapped around the customer experience while making a large functional space still intimate and personal, telling the story of a place in time past and present through a multitude of detail. This is a hotel lobby that welcomes and bids farewell to each guest in a unique, distinctive, memorable and immersive experiential environment with an unmistakable sense of place.