Pardon the existential question but: what exactly is a wall for?
To most, its main function is to partition for whatever purposes behind the wall: to isolate, to privatise; to barricade, to separate and expel. Still, for the space they do enclose, walls also serve as the canvas – and define the character of a cavity, for both the people inhabiting it and those tasked with decorated it.
What if it goes one step further? What if walls can provide a portal – a glimpse into environments, whole cultures and individual ideologies, outside and beyond the capsular refuge or confinement?
But then that might become too imposing, invasive even.
Especially for a place set out to be hospitable – a hotel, for instance – designing the space and striking a balance is a delicate matter: you wouldn’t want its projection so overstimulating that it’s tattooing on retinas, nor should it be so inconspicuous and unprovoking that it doesn’t even get a shrug.
I reckon I encountered that somewhere in between during my stay at Hotel Adriatic in Rovinj, Croatia.
What walls invoke may be the need of seclusion or escape. Function or aesthetics. Backdrop or spotlight. Spaces may be contemplated presently or in retrospect. Whole rooms and buildings may be merely dwelled in, or poised to challenge and enhance one’s thinking. And none of that is imposed upon the beholder, only echoing and complementing the current state of mind – one that’s seeking sanctuary within the walls it’s interacting with.
After all, that’s precisely where the soul of great design lies.