Hotel Icon / Hong Kong

Daughters of Zeus and denizens of Mount Parnassus, the nine Muses of Mythology are heard every time a poet writes or an artist paints, as the title of Truman Capote’s nonfiction novella records. Homer invoked this ethereal sorority at the opening of The Odyssey. Dante summoned them before plunging into his Inferno, “O Muses… aid me now!”

Somewhere down the ages the immortal Muses morphed into flesh and blood, capable of holding all manner of men in their thrall. For a time Whistler could barely brush a stroke without the guiding presence of his titian tressed muse Joanna Hiffernan. The Viennese seductress Alma Mahler famously impelled Walter Gropius to draw, Gustav Mahler to compose and Franz Werfel to write.

Around the same time that art became abstract, muses migrated from artists to musicians. Marianne Faithfull crooned “I am a muse, not a mistress, not a whore” in Sliding Through Life on Charm. Taking it to a whole new level is Hotel Icon in Hong Kong. Multiple muses – male and female – not only inspired the design but became part of it.

Hong Kong’s designer Rocco Yim oversaw the sharp architecture. William Lim of CL3 Architects designed the sweeping staircase, ballroom and bedrooms. He says, “Comfort is always my priority. We wanted to create a sense of richness and elegance – then let the spectacular views complete the story.”

The eponymous VT suite is the brainchild of fashion designer Vivienne Tam. Her contemporary Barney Cheng designed the staff uniforms. He labels his style “extravagant simplicity”. Designer Freeman Lau curated the hotel’s eclectic art collection.

They were joined by French landscape architect Patrick Blanc who installed a ‘vertical garden’, an 18m high verdant wall, in the Green café. A meaningful moniker theme emerges. Sir Terence Conran directed the design of all the hotel’s eateries which also include members’ club Above & Beyond on the top floor of this 262 bedroom hotel and an open plan restaurant called The Market. Rocco’s ninth floor harbour facing outdoor swimming pool and fitness centre allow guests to work up an appetite while enjoying the panorama.

Isabella Blow once remarked, “In the 18th century the muse would be in her salon. You would visit her, you would have tea with her, she’d talk… you were inspired by her. But life is very corporate now, you can’t do that.” In the 21st century the muse is more likely to have designed the salon. The passive qualities of muses have transmogrified into the activity of icons.

Hotel Icon’s logo represents its coterie of icons. Designer Tommy Li explains, “The logo is an assortment of individual units gathering up to form a unique star shaped icon. It’s based on the concept of ‘bringing brilliance together’.” The totality of the titans’ talent is on display, housed in a 28 storey glass tower, revealing a new approach to traditional Asian hospitality. It’s a world away from Truman’s unfortunate hotel experiences. At Hotel Icon, the muses are heard and seen.

Architects: Rocco Design Architects Ltd / Interior Designer: CL3 Architects Ltd Restaurants Designer: Conran & Partners / VT Suite Designer: Vivienne Tam / Vertical Garden Designer: Patrick Blanc / Uniform Designer: Barney Cheng/ Logo Designer: Tommy Li / Spa Operator: Angsana Spa

Words: Stuart Blakley

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