The studio’s work infuses the new Danish hotel in a neo-baroque building with art-inspired ‘quiet beauty’
London-based architecture and interior design practice Universal Design Studio has designed 381 rooms at Villa Copenhagen, a new 390-room hotel in the Danish capital.
The hotel building, built in 1912 in a neo-baroque style, was once the city’s Central Post Office. Universal Design Studio has drawn inspiration from this and other local architecture, as well as from the work of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864–1916), whose muted depictions of sunlit domestic interiors exude a quiet stillness.
To reflect Hammershøi’s understated, elegant use of light, Universal has developed a warm, gentle colour palette using soft ochre, brick, green-grey, and copper tones, which instil the rooms with a feeling of calm. This is complemented by the bespoke, custom-made furniture, textiles, ceramics and lighting used.
Universal began its design process by mapping the building’s interior. As very few original features remained, the studio either reinstalled or restored elements such as grand window surrounds, cornices, timber panelling, flooring, doors and architraves.
Due to the original architecture, Villa Copenhagen houses over 55 room typologies. Four-metre-high ceilings with tall windows are found on the lower floors, while the upper floor, in a converted attic, have exposed timber beams and roof-lights offering views across the city.
All of Universal’s rooms – spanning standard, deluxe and suites – feature a wall-length tinted mirror with window-like framing, as well as a textured glass internal façade that lets natural daylight into the ensuite bathroom.
Luxurious yet minimal materiality dominates, with painted timber panelling, oak parquet flooring, walnut wardrobes, smoked glass, raw brass, and marble-clad window sills. The suites feature silk curtains and marble tables to dine and work at.
Universal has designed custom pendant and wall lighting, as well as table lamps. Custom bed headboards are made in a naturally biodegradable and recyclable linen material, produced by Scandinavian brand Astrid.
A curated selection of classic and contemporary furniture is featured in each room type, all of which reference Danish design. These include original pieces from Danish designers Finn Juhl, Ole Wanscher, Nanna Ditzel, Niels Otto Møller, Hans Wegner and Borge Morgensen, alongside Italian designer Gio Ponti.
Works from contemporary European designers Nick Ross, Andreas Engesvik and Jasper Morrison are also featured. All furniture has been upholstered using a mix of Sahco and Kvadrat fabrics, including textiles from the Kvadrat/Raf Simons collection.
“Our aim was to create a series of rooms which respond to the historic building, while centring on contemporary Danish design, humanness and craft,” says Richard McConkey, head of hospitality at Universal. “Copenhagen has a beautiful quality of light, which, alongside the feeling of quiet beauty in the work of Hammershøi, became a key reference point in our design process.
“We have tried to look at each room as if an individual residence, aiming to emphasise the building’s original character to create a mix of different room types, tones, bespoke pieces and relaxed quiet experiences, which contribute to a stand-out destination for conscious, quality luxury.”
All photographs by Andy Liffner