Modern elegance with historic accents

The Prague Post

The new Marriott Courtyard is a showcase for Czech Cubism

Warm colors, a fresh feel and touches of Czech Cubism combine beautifully to grace the interiors of the Courtyard by Marriott Prague Flora. Newly opened in May, the hotel’s 161 rooms, restaurant, bar, lobby and public spaces were designed by Helena T. Dunn, a Prague-born American decorator.

“I wanted to create a contemporary, warm and inviting interior following Marriott brand standards and featuring Czech Cubist design elements,” says Dunn, who worked as an in-house interior designer for Marriott International for 17 years before starting her own company.

The building’s exterior inspired Dunn when it came to designing the interior.

“The architectural design for the hotel facade appeared to be very similar to a Josef Chochol study for a facade dated 1914,” she explains. “This gave me the idea to explore the period of Czech Cubism and apply some basic elements to the interior details, carpet and furniture design.”

Mustards and blues dominate the reception area, part of the Marriott Courtyard brand standards. Low lighting from wall sconces keep the area well-lit, yet soft. The furniture as well had to conform to Marriott standards, but Dunn had her own plans for it and the artwork used throughout the hotel. “I wanted to use as many local furniture and lighting manufacturers, as well as local artists, as possible,” she explains.

Low leather chairs, small couches and round tables strategically placed throughout the lobby make intimate seating arrangements for guests. Dunn utilized the Cubist characteristics of angular and round shapes well in these public spaces. In the back seating area, maroons brighten the space and make for a cozy meeting area, a favorite of General Manager Rick Ender.

“I like the back lobby area, especially at night,” he says. “When the candles are lit, it creates a space for retreat and has a nice ambiance.”

Branching off to the right from the lobby is the bar, divided from the restaurant by a fireplace. The bar furniture follows the lead of the chairs and tables in the lobby. All the public space furniture features Cubist details and was custom-designed by the Czech company Framoz, Sollus, Mobilia.

“My favorite part of the hotel is the restaurant and bar,” says Dunn. “You can find the basic Cubist elements there — the bar and buffet have an angular shape, the tables have a simple geometric shape and angular legs.”

Marriott Courtyard’s signature colors of green, red, blue and gold continue throughout the hotel, with Dunn emphasizing different shades of the basic palette to get the results she desired. The hallways are a soft lemon yellow, lit with frosted-glass sconces. The carpeting showcases the rainbow of Marriott’s color scheme, in brighter blues, yellows and greens than are found in the rest of the hotel. The geometric and leaf patterns on the corridor carpeting represent both Cubism and the name of the hotel, Flora. The room furnishings are of a medium, red-hued wood shade, with mustards and reds dominating the bedding and curtains.

Probably the most distinctive feature of the hotel is the artwork, which turned out to be more difficult to collect than Dunn anticipated.

“The artwork selection process was the best part of the project,” she says. “The original idea for the guestroom artwork was to purchase published prints of the many well-known Czech artists from the Cubist period.”

Unfortunately, that proved to be an impossible task, so Dunn went a different route — finding local contemporary artists willing to have their paintings photographed and displayed in the hotel.

“We visited many local artists and selected Jirí Peca and Rudolf Riedelbauch,” Dunn says. “Local photographer Prokop Paul agreed to do the work [of photographing the paintings].”

The artwork in the corridors and meeting rooms is compositions of Cubist architectural details, created by Paul. The artwork in the lobby is photographs, taken by Paul, of the original paintings by Jirí Peca.

Paul also helped create other decorating elements throughout the hotel, including additional photos of Cubist architectural details (angular shapes and geometric patterns) in the guest rooms.

Enders and Dunn are pleased with the results.

“The public spaces are inviting, vibrant and functional,” Dunn says. “The furnishings, based on Cubist designs, are functional, comfortable and easy to maintain.”

“I think the sense is fresh, and at the same time warm and nonobstructive,” says Enders. “Throughout the hotel, you see Cubism. It’s not stuffy, and all things have a purpose — there’s no clutter.”