Hotel Design By Michele Bonan

Today I want to talk about my love for good hotel design and the numerous ideas that we can bring home.  I absolutely love to travel and finding a beautiful hotel that re-invigorates my eye for design is the ultimate treat.  While I haven’t had much opportunity to escape lately, I AM always dreaming of my next destination.  Hotels are a great chance for designers to show their stuff to the world and really infuse a space with beauty and comfort.  For us guests, it’s an opportunity to try-out different design styles to learn what makes us feel rested or ready to entertain.  While I don’t recommend bringing home everything that you love (parrot wallpaper should on the islands please, as should most folk-art and conch shells) I do think there are lots of pretty things that can liven-up the typical Canadian home. This blog post is an exploration of location-specific decorating as I bring you two very different hotels by the same designer.

I discovered the work of famed Italian architect/designer Michele Bonan while looking for the best hotels in Capri.  Bonan’s philosophy is “harmony, coherence and irony are the keys” (I’m not sure what he means by the ‘irony’ part and suspect a mis-translation).  His work is right up my alley as it is a mix of sumptuous fabrics, antiques, tasteful patterns, selective use of colour and a ‘new world meets old world’ sensibility.  His work IS cohesive and has a symmetry that  I adore.  He mixes luxury with practical comfort.

So, without much further ado, please take a little dream vacation with me to two of Bonan’s most famed properties: The JK Place Capri and The Heidelberg Suites. Both are very appropriate mirrors of their surroundings (as your home should be) with hints of the designer’s special eye for style.  I’ll give little hints of “ideas to steal” as we go along.

The stunning facade and view at the JK Place Capri make me dizzy.

I love the use of big blocks of navy with bright-white trim and moldings.  The mirrors exaggerate the architectural details while the dark wood floor and occasional furniture ground everything.  If you can only steal one small thing from this one make it the simple arrangement of while calla lilies.

The wooden trim around the mirrors and bar is fantastic.  As you’ll see in many of these shots, Bonan likes to use thin lines of dark colour as frames or accents. It’s a great tip to steal.  Also notice the gorgeous camel-coloured leather with nail-head detail on the stools.

A very luxe bedroom with an amazing canopy bed.  Again , we have one chosen colour (soft yellow) with lots of white for balance and small hits of dark for contrast.  I’ve never been one for a fussy valance but this drapery is absolutely stellar and I am changing my mind.

The mix of cream and blue is so pretty in this one.  Something to note: when your room is mostly devoid of visual clutter, you can easily add a hit of pattern like with the two zebra stools against the wall.  Pattern in moderation gives a room lift and interest.

Gorgeous!!  While I’m not crazy about the grey bathtub top, I do love the mosaic-style tiling and french doors.  The tiles mirror the black iron grill-work outside.  Again, it’s cohesive and harmonious.

The only thing that I wouldn’t steal from this gorgeous dinning room is the exaggerated white vases that flank the window.  The rest is up for grabs: white chairs with nailhead-detail, chandelier art, soft grey, white and cream pallette.

Here is a great one for home-inspiration.  I love the soft purple ikat fabric on these two chairs and the dining-height round table placed between them.  This is a great idea for a breakfast nook or a games table in the living room.  The pretty shiny table and mirror in the background make it a complete vignette.

Now, buckle your seatbelts because we are about to go in a completely different direction.

This is the facade of The Heidelberg Suites.  According to the architect, it is inspired by German romanticism and classicism interpreted by a Florentine designer.  Once again, the building’s visual harmony and elegance really appeals to me.

This hotel is in keeping with it’s historic urban setting and is much richer and darker in tone than it’s mediterranean sister.  Notice the same thin-lines used to frame the top of the ceiling and door frames: a Bonan signature.

Soft white walls and dark flooring make the space feel classic while the busts, artwork and antler details are nods to the hotel’s historical setting.

This room is divine. Ideas to steal: 1. don’t be afraid of dark walls as long as they are broken-up with windows and large artwork; 2. camel coloured leather is something to covet; 3. silk drapes in acidic green look amazing against black walls!

I love the classic elegance of this little vignette– even though the modern carpet hints of something wackier in the rest of the room.

This is an example of the ‘more is more’ school of thought.  The vignette follows a few tried and true rules: start with a large statement piece like a mirror, then layer with something tall and symmetrical, something quirky and something fresh. Et voila! Style on a mantle.  PS I also love the grey-blue paint colour because is showcases the creamy white hearth stone.

A simply heavenly way to treat an upstairs loft or attic.  Warm wood floors, soft creamy chaise, natural fiber baskets and a warm fire.  This one works in Canada for sure!

That’s the end of our tour for now.  I urge you to check out the two hotel websites (links above) on your own as they offer lots of additional pictures (and take reservations!).  Maybe I’ll meet you there one day….

For those that speak Italian, here is a clip of the “architetto” describing his process at the JK Capri- or at least I think he is.  I’d love a translation is anyone out there is fluent: youtube

All photos found on hotel websites.


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