Maria Vafiadis is an established thought-leader within the hospitality design world, admired for her roll-call of beautiful and ingeniously designed projects, sought out by discerning property owners and respected for the value she brings to all her work. She is as confident in imagining large, imposing spaces as she is in creating intimate, cosy interiors; whether designing the boldly contemporary or within the classical genre, she draws on location and cultural heritage and creates something unique. An architect by training and an interior designer by choice, she combines visionary use of space with design that reaches out beyond trend, that is commercially astute, innovative and delightfully surprising.
Maria established MKV Design in London in 2000 after an early career which had taken her from Athens to Milan and onto the UK. Since then, she has cultivated a business which has worked across Europe, in the Middle East and in Africa. Current/recent projects include: The Sheraton Park Lane, London; The Grand Hyatt Hotel & Residences, Abu Dhabi; The Royal Savoy, Lausanne; Burgenstock resort, Switzerland; the Boulevard and Intourist Hotels in Baku, Azerbaijan; and Costa Navarino, Messinia, Greece, as well as a number of private residential commissions. Here Maria shares one of her latest hotel projects with The LuxPad…
Project name: Intourist Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan
Floor Area: 8427m2
Project time taken: 18 months
Completion of Project: opened in June 2015
The client wanted to create a hotel with the glamor, sophistication and intimacy of Baku’s original Intourist Hotel which, during its mid-20th Century heyday, was ‘the place to be seen’. Although the architectural design of the new building was a replica of its predecessor, MKV responded to the brief by designing a hotel with a narrative that is clearly its own. Boutique in quality and scale, the interiors of the new hotel might be a lovely family home, a special place for local people, reviving memories but within a 21st Century context.
What was the creation / planning process?
The ground floor spaces have been carefully planned to provide a series of different opportunities for guests to relax, work, socialise and dine, all within a relatively small footprint. The spaces flow naturally from the entrance lobby, leading guests into the next area with intriguing glimpses and carefully composed views. Decorative timber screens recur through the ground floor space with their hint of a 1960’s patina and, together with full height sheers and a magnificent cascade of ceiling pendants that swirls through the public areas like an unfurling sail, hold the spaces together.
How did the project go?
The project went incredibly smoothly. We were blessed with an exceptional project team, including ReardonSmith Architects, and the client had a clear vision for the hotel and liked our proposal for the interior design. Importantly, we had a realistic budget that enabled us to specify high quality materials and furnishings.
What was your favorite room or part of the project and why?
From a design perspective, the lounge and bar areas best describe the hotel’s identity as an exclusive new destination attractive to both staying guests and Baku residents. A wood-burning fire contained within a wall of magnificent green forest marble forms a fabulous backdrop to the lounge which is replete with collections of original contemporary furniture.
On the other side, the marble wall serves to enclose the bar, creating the next space in the guest journey. Here, the antiqued brass of the bar glimmers under shafts of lighting slicing through dark walnut timber and white lacquer boxes suspended from the ceiling in a crafted design which “cuts through” the marble wall from the lounge. The spaces are glamorous and intimate; they have the ambience of a discreet private club for “those in the know”.
Were there any issues or problems you encountered during the project?
Unusually – nothing out of the ordinary.