Evening Standard, May 4th 2018: "This Richard Mishaan-designed Hotel Will Put Cartagena On the Map"
August 9, 2017
Amid the vibrant coastal cityscape of Cartagena lies Colombia's most stylish and exclusive new destination, the Tcherassi Hotel + Spa, which opened in November.
The hotel was built in a 250-year-old colonial mansion in the historic walled town, where colourful Spanish facades overlook the glistening Caribbean Sea.
The hotel is owned by renowned local fashion designer, Silvia Tcherassi, whose brand recently launched on Net-a-Porter. Fashion and hospitality tend to go well together (as the expansion of Bulgari and Armani Hotels has demonstrated), and Tcherassi's collaboration with interior design icon, Richard Mishaan, has elevated Cartagena's luxury profile to new heights, offering an authentic experience for well-heeled travelers.
Mishaan, who is based in New York, but is originally from Colombia, has completed a string of high-profile design projects over the past 25 years. Unlike many examples of Caribbean design, Mishaan intended to create something fresh and minimalistic fir the Tcherassi Hotel. "My vision was to create a contemporary oasis in the middle of the city that contrasted with the elaborate, colourful, and extremely Caribbean surrounds," he explains. "Many other hotels feature that overly colourful and overdone aesthetic; I wanted [to create] an open white space where you could escape the tropical heat-- something light and clean."
Mishaan is renowned for his artistic ability to fuse modernity with antiquity-- a skill that was vital for preserving the heritage of the mansion, while ensuring that the final product was luxurious and attuned to the preferences of discerning international travelers.
"There are parts of the hotel (starting with the entrance), that are landmarked 16th century spaces that had to be respected," he explains. "We made it come alive with historic Colombia references, such as the check-in desk, which is modelled on the studded leather trunks in the Inquisition Museum that were brought over by the Royal family when they visited in the 1500's. It was a great way to reference the past while adding a modern edge.
"The second part of the hotel is all new construction which we made very contemporary. The furniture is minimal with a lot of wood and steel inspired by 1950's French design. We also incorporated a lot of local crafts and fabrics to reference the local culture, but we stuck to a maximum of two colour palettes to create a clean aesthetic," he explains.
Mishaan's work typically blends collectible and antiques with modern furnishings and artworks, and in this case, he designed many of his own patterns, layouts, and pieces himself with materials sourced from local markets and vendors. Taking this direction inspired him to launch a pop-up shop, set for unveiling in New York this month, which will feature an eclectic mix of decorative items inspired by Cartagena's local culture.
The fusion of Tcherassi's South American flair and Mishaan's sophisticated design ethos is sure to put Cartagena ion the map alongside long-established urban design centres.