Design stories: Poli House, Tel Aviv

by | 19 Apr 2021 | Design

For our latest TOPHOTELDESIGN exclusive, we talk to Karim Rashid, president of Karim Rashid Inc, about designing a striking Bauhaus-inspired boutique hotel in the White City.

Opened in September 2016, Tel Aviv’s unique Poli House is operated by Brown Hotels and boasts 40 rooms, spa treatment facilities, a cocktail bar and a rooftop infinity pool. The Karim Rashid Inc-designed scheme combines classic White City Bauhaus architecture with the raw energy of Tel Aviv’s vibrant street culture.

What was the design brief from the client?

The Poli House Hotel is located in the historical Bauhaus white district so the façade and major design elements could not be touched. The idea was to make an interior that was Bauhaus of the 21st century: a digitally and globally energetic, inspired place for positivism and heightened pleasure.

How did you go about delivering the client’s brief?

My design for Poli House has a great duality about it. The hotel is a marriage of Bauhaus and digital age, form and function, crafts and fine arts, digital and organic.

The simplicity of the architecture is juxtaposed with digitally driven ornamentation and form. I imagined Bauhaus in the 21st century, having a universal language that crosses borders and connects all of us.

Tel Aviv is that kind of city, with every culture integrated. This pristine White City building is juxtaposed with a ‘digipop’ aura, the day in which we live.

What are the most innovative aspects of the project?

I purposefully tried to break the tired typology of hotel room design. Typically, guests enter a room through a hallway with a bulkhead ceiling, closet on the left and bathroom entrance on the right, before entering the bedroom. In Poli House, guests open their door to be immediately embraced by the openness of the room.

The unique angled glass wall leading from the windows to the interior wall carves out a niche for the bathroom and closet, while offering more living space.

The room is separated into different areas for activities such as sleep, work, lounge and cleanse, but remains a cohesive space with the use of material and colour treatments. The work area is lightened by a glass desk, creating an airy, care-free workplace. Additional lounge seating and a minibar unit round out the space, creating all the comforts of home.

Which element of the project’s design are you most proud of?

Well, I am proud that the entire experience is holistic – check-in, on the roof, hallway imagery.

When working on a project, I do not see these elements as separate. I cannot remove one from the other. They all need to work together to engage and elevate the human experience.

What was the biggest challenge with the project?

The building is a landmark, so the biggest challenge was respecting all the laws, yet doing what I call 21st-century Bauhaus.

For example, even though I proposed many concepts for the stairwell walls, we were at the end not allowed to touch any of them, or the stairs themselves. I even made a digital painting from an original Bauhaus famous painting of students going up the stairs and wanted the walls to have this new digital version, huge in the stairwell space, but we weren’t allowed.

How long did you work on the project in total?

Four years.

Has the finished project lived up to expectations?

Yes, almost. I feel the bar wasn’t fully completed as I had envisioned it, and the flooring tiles weren’t successful from the production and the quality (a motif that was based on an ancient Hebrew pattern).

How would you sum up what this project has achieved?

The hotel receives so much recognition, and even from a financial point of view, it is the highest grossing hotel in Tel Aviv.

For more info, and to view an extensive gallery of hi-res images, check out the Poli House project page on the TOPHOTELDESIGN website.

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