Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Hotel with design rooms by AMFI students a success

14 Nov 2014 13:54

Damrak is not exactly what you would call the showpiece of Amsterdam. But located between the dodgy hotels, falafel and chip shops there is one notable exception: Hotel The Exchange. AMFI students designed 30 rooms in this fashion hotel, which draws you into another world.


Creative entrepreneurs Otto Nan and Suzanne Oxenaar of the Lloyd Hotel seized the opportunity to transform Hotel The Exchange with the help of 12 AMFI students. The students were selected and supervised by the designer duo Ina-Matt. Matt: “Damrak was supposed to become Amsterdam’s red carpet. In this project we took things a step further: we view Damrak as Amsterdam’s catwalk. The point of departure became: a hotel with rooms dressed like models.”


The hotel was like a shadowy, dark cavern when they started, explains Matt, like a dirty motel in a road movie. “The mafia was driven out, and the students were allowed to strip the rooms immediately and paint them all white.” This is where the challenge started for the students, because they were used to designing for the human body. Now they had to dress entire rooms as models. “It requires 3D thinking, which isn’t easy,” explains Matt. The students came from different specialisations: fashion, branding, design and fabric design. Under the guidance of Ina-Matt they developed their concepts for 30 of the 64 rooms in this hotel.


The hotel is located in three interconnected buildings, the oldest of which dates back to the 17th century. Matt finds the design of the crinoline room, one of the oldest rooms under the ridge, particularly eye-catching: AMFI student Sophie Sleumer’s design is reminiscent of Grimm’s fairy tales. The guest sleeps under a large crinoline skirt made from a collage of old fabrics.

Another student made a large collapsible Rembrandt-style collar to surround the bed. The only male student among the designers made a room with pleats: even the walls look soft and pleated, yet actually it’s all plaster. Even the bedside tables and reading lamps are incorporated into the pleats. Matt: “These doors conceal a secret.”


The hotel opened its doors at the end of 2012 and business is very good. Both the hotel and the designers have won various design awards. Ina-Matt received an award for the design of the communal spaces: they decorated the spaces as if they were a body, the desk resembles a beauty case, and there is a large necklace of lights in the lobby, as if it were a jewel. Matt: “This was a really fun collaboration, because these AMFI students represent the next generation of designers and worked together from a variety of disciplines. We used a lot of craftsmanship, because without craftsmanship there can be no innovation.”


Hotel The Exchange on Damrak was one of the first locations to receive a makeover as part of the City of Amsterdam’s Project 1012. The aim of this project is to combat the deterioration of the area around Damrak and the Red Light District; designers and creative minds are given the opportunity to provide the buildings with a new purpose.