Scandic Vulkan Oslo - a canvas for creative talent
How do you fit a square peg in a round hole? This was the design conundrum that Stylt Trampoli faced with the new Scandic Vulkan hotel in Oslo.
Scandic Hotels, arguably Scandinavia’s most dependable mid-range business hotel brand, was chosen by top Norwegian developer Aspelin Ramm to manage the first hotel to open at its famous Vulkan project beside the Aker River in central Oslo. Following a design competition, Scandic in turn picked Stylt to work its particular brand of magic on the hotel’s interiors, using its patented storytelling approach to design.
“Honestly, we were puzzled that Scandic were chosen to run the hotel at Vulkan, which is a leading centre for creative art education, when the chain is principally known as a corporate brand and really has no track record of support or involvement in the creative sector,” says Stylt creative director and founder, Erik Nissen Johansen. “The challenge was how to fit a relatively staid, mainstream business brand into a super creative, alternative environment.”
The environment in question is Vulkan, an innovative 16 000 square-metre contemporary creative campus in a former industrial area in the Grünerløkka district of Oslo. “Aspelin Ramm had the fantastic vision of moving all the creative universities to this location,” explains Erik. “The result is that where once were decaying factories, there are now such institutions as the Norwegian national schools of art, architecture, graphic design, dance, film and business, as well as multiple performance venues, restaurants, shops, apartments and offices.”
“There was in a way, too much of a contrast between Scandic and this über-creative backdrop,” continues Erik, “We scratched our heads, and tried to picture Scandic as a person, taking into account the personality traits of the brand. By doing this, we realized that even if Scandic was a business person and not an artist itself, there was no reason why he/she should not be interested in - and thus a patron of - the arts.”
On the back of this realization, it suddenly made total sense to put a Scandic hotel in the midst of the upcoming creative talent at Vulkan – even if it took Stylt an entire day to convince the operator.
“We envisaged the hotel as a venue in which we would effectively leave the walls to the students, one in which they would have free rein to demonstrate their creative talents, as well as a shop window in which the creative brains of the future could experience their first interactions with ‘grown-up’ business people,” says Erik.
The hotel interiors by Stylt create a bright and airy loft-style open-plan studio environment, featuring an eclectic and wildly colourful mix of furniture like a super-chic student residence, complete with long dining hall benches offset by whimsically dangling giant light blubs. These elements serve to frame the works of local students, who are encouraged to contribute their latest outpourings through monthly competitions with a top prize of NOK 10,000 (about 1,300€).
Erik sums up: “The Vulkan is the birthplace of Norway’s future creative stars, and the Scandic Vulcan is the canvas on which they can express themselves. In becoming a showcase for the students’ works, the hotel has claimed a unique emotional niche in Norway’s accommodation sector. We are sure that in a couple of years' time, the hotel will be a vital outlet for the creative arts. That’s why our slogan for the project is: ‘The hotel that explores the creative forces of the past, the present and the future.’”