Whenever Scottish designer Jim Hamilton flies, he stares out the window, mesmerized by the colors, patterns, and textures of the landscape below.
Once while flying over Minneapolis, Hamilton saw countless lakes and noticed how the terrain was markedly different than any other he had seen before. This inspired the abstract design of the Radisson Blu Mall of America’s colorful lobby rug, which depicts a topographical map of Minnesota.
As the second Radisson Blu in the United States, this 500-room property has high standards to live up to. Radisson Blu hotels are widely recognized for their thought-provoking contemporary style, from the giant, cylindrical aquarium at the Radisson Blu Berlin to the floor-to-ceiling wine tower at the Radisson Blu Zurich. “Part of the DNA behind Blu lies in making sure it’s relevant as much as it tells a tale,” Hamilton says of Carlson Rezidor’s edgy upper-upscale brand. “It’s important for it to be something people look at that excites them.”
There are plenty of hotels showcasing contemporary designs, says Carlson Rezidor’s President of the Americas Thorsten Kirschke, but he believes Blu combines bold modern looks with an element of surprise. At the 334-room Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago, for instance, the lobby wall features backlit glass bricks that are symbolic of the city skyline. “You have a uniquely designed place that sits comfortably and proudly within its market,” Kirschke says. “To bring that out in the details is the difference between being contemporary and just buying a carpet that’s a hip color.”
Hamilton took this all into account when he wove the design narrative of the public spaces at the Mall of America property in Bloomington, Minn., which opened on March 15. He had gone through a similar process creating the look for the first U.S. location, which debuted in November 2011 and takes up the first 18 floors of Chicago’s mixed-use Aqua skyscraper. Hamilton’s subtle design references to Chicago and Minnesota create a strong sense of place and authenticity at the two U.S. properties. “I try and implement some of that within the design so it doesn’t feel like just taking a building and sticking it in the same city,” says Hamilton, who works for the Glasgow-based firm Graven Images.