Reykjavík is an odd place. The city’s relaxed randomness and playful, laid back attitude shine through at the appropriately named ODDSSON Ho(s)tel, which opened earlier this year. I took a tour with Daniel Freyr Atlason, design genius and Creative Director at Döðlur, the advertising and design firm behind Iceland’s newest hotspot.
Great ideas begin with a missed flight
The imaginative minds behind ODDSSON seek originality. Beyond the cookie-cutter “hipster” hostel, they wanted to bring high culture and art into the mix. Daniel says the seeds for the design concept for a combination hotel/hostel were planted when he missed a flight. The experience, which could have been exceedingly dull, morphed into a ruckus party with first class passengers clinking glasses with budget-travellers. Stranded at an airport with nothing to do but watch the clock tick, people moved through the space having fun and exploring. That open, adventurous, carefree feeling is brought to life through the design of ODDSSON.
Reflecting on the attitude of the people of Reykjavík, Daniel commented, “You can’t tell us how to do things, and we have a hard time with rules.” ODDSSON is not a hotel. It isn’t a hostel. It isn’t a bar or a restaurant or a Karaoke joint, either. Echoing the theme of marrying high and low culture, ODDSSON is all of that. Travelers can expect to rent a luxury suite next door to a room with bunk beds. The space is rich with small treasures everywhere you look. On the ground floor, carefully selected high-end furniture that usually sits behind velvet ropes in art galleries elsewhere in the world is placed next to tables custom designed by Döðlur and built by Daniel’s dad. The designers want people to revel in the juxtaposition. He joked, “I would love to see people dancing on the Pierre Chapo chairs!” There are plans in the works to build a compilation of rock music played by a symphony over brunch. Construction is underway for a take-away restaurant in the back where you can grab a quick bite and/or a pricey bottle of wine.
Simplicity is not simple
What happens when people who make art make hotels? You get a comfortable, beautiful, intriguing world that could just as easily be a Wes Andersen film set as a place to grab a drink or wait for your tour bus. The designers began the process by making a film. Then they created a playlist to inspire the mood, and then they formulated the design concept. Daniel spent years collecting pieces from auctions all over the world. “It is hard to stop. It becomes a bit like gambling!” Clicking away to bid on the perfect pieces, ODDSSON scored big. The collection includes sofas by De Sede, Alessandro Becchi and Mario Bellini, chairs from George Nakashima, Augusto Bozzi and LuigiCaccia Dominioni, and Tommaso Barbi, Maison Jensen, and Mario Botta lamps. The luxury treasure hunt paid off.
Building on the Curve
ODDSSON is in JL Húsið. There is no way to be delicate about it, JL Húsið is a weird building. It is a curved old industrial house that bends around the end of Hringbraut. It used to be home to random offices and a grocery store, and shades of the structure’s industrial roots still exist in the exposed pipes and rough textures in the lobby and restaurant downstairs. “We have to listen to the building” Daniel said of the design process. “We decided not to throw everything out.” ODDSSON shares the house with an art school, and there is a newly opened yoga studio on the 4th floor. Walking through the halls, you can’t help but feel that art, creativity, and Zen are in the air.
The views from JL Húsið are extraordinary, overlooking Esja and the Faxaflói bay. Iceland’s dramatic weather and landscape are framed like morphing artwork in ODDSSON’s seaside rooms. The long, curving hallways create a sense of uncertainty and adventure; visitors are never sure how long the journey will take or what is waiting on the other side of the bend.
Out of time
One surprising thing about ODDSSON is the element of time, or maybe more accurately, the lack thereof. Pulling together eccentric styles from decades past, ODDSSON brings them into the present. It isn’t retro, but the style incorporates iconic pieces and pulls classic style forward into something new. The space changes throughout the day, like the textured white bar which is reminiscent of fluffy soft clouds during the day, but turns into a sharp brutal surface when it is lit up in the shadow of night.
ODDSSON is the result of artistic passion given carte blanche to run wild and create something spectacular. Danni told me that after working on this project, he got a sense of what it feels like to live your work. That passion shines thorough in the final product. The crew working on turning the vision into reality included the brilliant Stáss architects. “The owners were more than great,” Daniel says of ODDSSON’s owners Margrét Ásgeirsdóttir and Arnar Gunnlaugsson, who were instrumental in allowing the design process to flourish. Döðlur also cooperated with renowned architects Jakob Jakobsson, Eiríkur Lumex, Steve Róberts and DK húsgögn in pulling together ideas to create the space.
ODDSSON is infinitely instagramable. The space is playful, and filled with small random beautiful elements to awaken your frisky side. It inspires a voyeuristic curiosity. Porthole doors peek into the restrooms, so walking past you can catch a glimpse of iconic pink sinks. The stand-alone karaoke room is a first for Iceland. The sound-proof room is boxed in by two-way mirrors. When the lights are down, you can quietly sip a cocktail while a silent party rages on behind you. Peek in and you may see an Icelandic popstar belting out a tune next to a housewife out for a night on the town.
Maybe you are accustomed to fancy things. Or maybe you are like me and would relish the opportunity to sit on artwork while enjoying a cup of coffee or a good glass of wine. ODDSSON has something for everyone, and promises a uniquely classy experience, even for those on a tight budget.
August 08, 2018
May 08, 2018
March 01, 2018