There must be weirder ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than stuck inside a church organ, but there can’t be many. Balancing on planks between 2,000 precious pipes was a catwalk cakewalk compared to hanging off nave-top ladders to get a decent shot of the crown and mitres. This organ’s a massive two storey structure. Lavender’s Blue commissions have ranged from supermodels to super models, redaction to red action, beds to dog beds, but never capturing images of the innards and outtards of one of the finest Baroque church organs in England. All at the behest of one of the most distinguished organists in England. It was a first.
“When it was completed in 1735 it was the largest organ in the country. It is now the largest surviving Georgian organ in existence,” explained Gerard. “This organ is made for music as envisaged by composers of that period – there are relatively few like it. You are hearing what 18th century ears would have heard. The keyboard goes down to Bottom G so music written in the lower register can be played. Prelleur was the first organist of this church. Handel knew Richard Bridge and spoke very highly of him.”
Hard edged dockside architecture meets playful futuristic design. Nowhere is the status of a city and its wellbeing better reflected in its music than Berlin. The two are intertwined. Think the Weimar Republic and its jazz cafés. Of course the legend of a libertarian culture destroyed by fascism was propagated by the film Cabaret. Fast forward a century and post war Berlin’s inherent appeal was again its openness. It was an anomaly, an oasis of extremity created by the Cold War. Here, anything could happen.
David Bowie arrived in Berlin towards the end of the 70s. He became immersed in the German music of the period. It was saturated in absence, loss and distance. Bands such as Kraftwerk influenced his craft, his work. Bowie’s piece V 2 Schneider reverberates to the rhythm of an S Bahn train. He recorded two thirds of his Berlin Trilogy – Low and Heroes but not Lodger – at the city’s legendary Hansa Studios. As the curtain fell on communism and the 20th century, techno music would emerge, climaxing with the euphoric blaze that was Love Parade.
Which brings us to right here right now. nhow Berlin is iridescently present, a tangible addition to the waterscape, a representation of contemporary immediacy. Its roots materialise from the city’s relationship with music – more anon. With the hotel’s opening, a new layer of meaning is added to the decadence and disharmony of the not so distant past.
Positioned along the River Spree, the old line between the East and West, nhow Berlin is a fusion of Sergei Tchoban’s architecture and Karim Rashid’s design. Russian born Sergei’s creation is a cubist arrangement of boxes piled high, the top one perilously cantilevering over the others by a gravity defying 10 metres. The underside is clad in reflective steel. Sergei says he is seeking to “convey the image of a ‘crane house’”. Other planes are covered by an aluminium or brick skin punctured by square windows. It’s all about clean lines, perpendicular angles and understated colourways. Enter the tinted glass doors – white outside; pink inside – and a whole new world unfolds.
New Yorker Karim’s interiors celebrate the German capital’s zeitgeist. He employs a progressive language to describe his oeuvre. The terms ‘infostethic’, ‘blobject’ and ‘technorganic’ are given three dimensional form. Karim says, “My vision engages technology, visuals, textures, colours, as well as all the needs that are intrinsic to living in a simpler less cluttered but more sensual environment.” Strata of irregular lines, asymmetric shapes and psychedelic patterns constantly redefine the hotel experience. Here, anything can happen.
Take the reception desk. It’s a pink amorphous sculpture with inset lighting. Beyond lies an expanse of white space stretching to a glazed wall overlooking the river. A giant continuous profile of Mussolini made of gold lacquered fibreglass hovers over the bar. Piped music radiates across the ground floor by day; live gigs rock it by night. Art or seating? The luminous voluptuous organic and ergonomic sofas are both. The restaurant is segregated from the bar by sheer curtains lined with a radio wave digipop pattern.
The hot pink rooms of the East Tower take their cue from sunrise. Sky blue dominates the rooms of the West Tower. The rooms of the 10 storey Upper Tower are calming grey to counteract the vertigo inducing views. Televisions double as radio wave shaped mirrors. Floors are acoustic friendly laminate painted with the digipop pattern. Guests can rent a keyboard or guitar in their room.
Two recording studios on the eighth floor of the Upper Tower are run by the co directors of the Hansa Studios. An adjacent music lounge is equipped with the latest multimedia technology – and a pink jukebox. The lounge, conference rooms and even the roof terrace are all directly wired to the studios. This allows for impromptu recordings.