I seem to come across more and more interesting examples of great design emerging out of Portugal, particularly in Porto. Time to put it on the list of places to visit? Oh yes I think so. Who knows, this hotel could be exactly where I stay when I go there.

Designed by  (Liquid Stone), Casa do Conto (House of Tales) began over three years ago, however a fatal fire interrupted the project in March 2009. The owner and the architects went on to complete the hotel and subsequently collect several design awards in 2011.

I am particularly intrigued by the interesting approach to ceiling design – covering six separate rooms, each ceiling is engraved with text that narrates a little story. Each quote was created by a different author, and related to the city and its architecture. These six “tales” were spatially organised by the architects and designed by graphic designers from R2 Design.



BUT… there’s always a (big) but somewhere. Once I get over the cool-town ceiling, part of me starts to feel like this interior is a bit of a missed opportunity. Looking at the images of the backyard makes me realise that the exterior is far more humane and warmer than the interior. This project looks like a classic example of an interior designed by architects. By the way, I don’t mean to sound condescending or disrespectful toward my fellow architects in any way. The undeniable truth is that I see far too many examples where architects, who appear to only be interested in architectural form, volume and exterior, get commissioned to design interiors without really understanding them (especially hotel interiors.) Just look at the image of the restaurant/ cafe space. Come on, right? Anyway, this is just like interior designers attempting to design buildings. What a friggin’ mess that would be (in majority of cases).

Anyway, what do you think?

[via . Images © Fernando Guerra & Sergio Guerra.]

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

7 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Karryn Dargie

    Really like the ceiling! I think they knew what to do but didn’t quite know how to pull it together ……. lots of architects favourites in there ……… but then again sometimes it is the client that drives the interior when only working with an architect (and not an interior
    designer) …. or the client’s wife (or sister or next door neighbour or aunty sue). Would love to create a bit more of a contrast against the architecture – dark and luxurious and textured ….. but that’s just me (oh and a bit more ‘darkness’ in the lighting). But then again I have never been to Portugal. Very brave question, Dana! Love your work.

  2. Avatar

    Love the way they preserved and accentuated the integrity of the building. Really love the concrete wall in the stairwell.
    The furnishings mmmm…not loving. But I would stay there. I really like small hotels. Much nicer than staying in a McHotel.

  3. Avatar

    I’m so with you Dana. I love the facade too but unfortunately we can’t live on a facade! The interiors are the parts we actually interact with. That restaurant looks like a place that I’d want to stay for 5 mins after I’ve scooped up food from the buffet. I like the tables but the way they’re arranged looks like a school cafeteria. The acoustics haven’t been considered, it looks like it would be a very noisy place to sit.
    The hotel rooms look nice however as soon as you arrive, where do you put your suitcases and stuff? The rooms wouldn’t stay this minimal when you actually stay in them. Having said that, I do like the concrete and the forms. Nice.

  4. Avatar
    Oliver @ Sabi Style

    I am in love with the ceiling – its such a brillinat idea and I love its execution.

    I really like how it looks from the exterior shot. Just imagine walking down the street and looking up and seeing that – it would stop you dead in your tracks.

    That said you are spot on about the interior. The outside is so much warmer are more inviting.

  5. Avatar

    Really, in love with the ceiling. Awesome work. Criativity at the best level. Impressive also the fact that in such a small space of building so much design.


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