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Case Study: DEMO Hotel by an architectural collective

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Awakening a sense of wonder and creating a memorable experience was the goal of DEMO, a visionary idea embodied in the Locality of the Romagna coastline.

The project has involved fourteen architectural firms called to rethink the spaces of what was once a local boarding house into an experimental hospitality hub.

From an idea stemming from Mauro Santinato, president of Teamwork Hospitalit –  the well-known hotel consulting company – the structure brings an air of innovation. DEMO Design Emotion is a design hotel that gives emotion and that at the same time wants to be a symbol of sustainable and valuable design, a concentration of innovation in the sector.

Colour Epidisodes, designed by Hub 48. Photograhy by Fabio Bascetta
Colour Epidisodes, designed by Hub 48. Photograhy by Fabio Bascetta

“DEMO is a hub of experimentation both for the architects involved and for the partner companies, a creative laboratory where the novelties of hospitality are being concentrated. It is a strong message not only for the city but for the entire hospitality industry. There is a need for renewal.” Santinato affirms.

The idea was born from a winning intuition developed in parallel with a successful event, Rooms, conceived by Teamwork Hospitality and realised during an industry trade show. The concept, developed in two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019, focused on hotel rooms each designed by a different architect who gave voice to his or her personal idea of hospitality. The rooms were open for viewing during the three-day duration of the event.

If designers and companies agree to put themselves on the line for three days of the fair, why not propose the concept in a permanent showroom set in a hotel that really works? That’s what Santinato thought when he proposed his vision to the fourteen architects involved in the project. “The designers, all of them specialising in the hotel industry, were enthusiastic about the initiative because it was an opportunity for them to express themselves freely and represent their idea of hospitality,” Santinato said. “There is no other example of this project in Italy, it is a unique experience that wants to be an attraction in the destination and aims to make it an emotional and experiential adventure staying in the hotel thanks for its originality.”

The Particulars

A completely non-managed structure, the technologies utilised needed to achieve their maximum potential. This was a challenge for the partner companies and architects. Research into the aesthetics was conducted at the highest level; it had to be out of this world and yet with a simplicity of use and functionality, but extreme attention to detail. The site logistics needed to be particularly sophisticated to handle such a high concept piece. And finally, all of this had to come together with the involvement of 14 design studios and in partnership with 90 companies.

DEMO Hotel exterior. Photograhy by Fabio Bascetta
DEMO Hotel exterior. Photograhy by Fabio Bascetta

The Brand

The brand and the visual identity were studied by the communication studio, Santacroce DDC. “We wanted to emphasise the dynamic and emerging character of DEMO. Studying a brand able to compose and recompose itself, able to communicate also by abstraction”, explains Paolo Santacroce.  The colour plays a fundamental role, and not by chance is the language chosen for the common parts.

The Fourteen Projects

DEMO consists of nine suites, a lobby, a co-working area, a laundry, and services on the ground floor. Each space has its own identity that can be previewed by the title of the project.

The exteriors and the common areas identified by the incipit of a famous Italian song Cerco l’estate tutto l’anno (“I’m looking for summer all year round”), are designed by CaberlonCaroppi studio, which has created a concept inspired by colour, with each floor characterised by a different shade. The inspiration is industrial “with a reference to the new creative hubs and to the dynamic business and co-working environments but revisited with a very strong Pop and Deco note”. Stunning exterior solutions with colourful glass balconies and a stunning wall wallpaper outdoor which reflects the pattern of bricks and outsized dots. “Building among buildings, it aims to be a landmark.”

The support for the landscape comes from design studio Progettisti, a specialist in landscape architecture.

Chiara Tabellini, founder of Ligh8Space, oversaw the lighting aspects of the exteriors, as well as coordinating the selection of lighting devices. “Every place, every project, every concept signed by an architectural designer has its own light: my task is to know how to bring it out while respecting all the factors involved” she said.

The Public Bathroom – Drama

On the ground floor, the restroom, poetically named Drama, was designed by Laura Verdi, who wanted to dedicate the room to the heroines of Italian operas – a tribute to Verdi and Puccini. Each evoked by a different theme on the walls covered in wallpaper. “The bathrooms are accessed through a corridor. I transformed this place of passage into an experiential moment, made of darkness and light cuts: a prelude to a scenario that will surprise open behind a theatrical curtain.” And just like in the theatre, you go on stage with a specially designed playlist that repeats in loop the most famous arias of the selected works while you are reflected in a magic mirror that transmits emotional and evocative images. And everything is designed to enhance femininity, from designer furniture thermostats to free-standing washstands.

Drama by Laura Verdi. Photography by Fabio Bascetta
Drama by Laura Verdi. Photography by Fabio Bascetta

Amenity spaces

Adjacent to the common bathrooms, there is the space designed by Ovre.design, Spin the wheel: laundry for guests and changing rooms. An explosion of black and white ceramics, both floor and wall covering, with graphic patterns inspired by an iconic element of Italian design. “Service spaces are always too unthinking. With DEMO, on the other hand, we wanted to create a dynamic and fun laundry and changing room where people have the curiosity to go there and come back,” said Giulia Del Piano and Corrado Conti.

Spin the wheel laundry room, designed by OVRE.design
Spin the wheel laundry room, designed by OVRE.design

The Suites

Surprising and unique are the nine suites of DEMO. With one or two bathrooms, they have a living area, equipped in some cases with a very functional kitchen, and an important sleeping area, also with two bedrooms.

On the second floor, Circle Room, designed by Silvia Ticchi and SMOOVE!! by FDA Fiorini D’Amico Architetti. Circle Room is a fluid space without physical barriers, with curtains instead of doors and sliding doors. The interior is studied on the shape of the circle, retro looking, the interior is casual and welcoming, deeply harmonious.

SMOOVE!!! is an invitation to escape. It is organised on a cross element of the space, a wall that alternates the normal accessories of a modern and comfortable hotel room with a complete equipment for sport and wellness to a complete set of equipment for sport and psychophysical wellness. Between natural materials and technological finishes.

On the second floor are the suites designed by Alessia Galimberti, Hub 48 and Fragment Hospitality. With the concept Una vita da (A)mare – (A life to be loved). the Galimberti studio creates a suite connected to the genius loci characterized by Mediterranean colours, teal and sand. The interior is deliberately neutral, flexible and versatile, ready to be ‘dressed’ in accessories that will identify and customize the style.

Colour Episodes by Hub48 celebrates joy, with fluid surfaces and volumes that are defined by different shades, in which the furnishings are integrated by their shape and function.

Fragment Hospitality, on the other hand, creates an immersive experience using the fluid element of water. It is a fully accessible suite designed with the expertise of Roberto Vitali of Village for all. The concept is called “In a Light Wave” and, in addition to having a bathroom with a double sink at different heights to ensure flexibility of use to an extended user base – even the smallest – it has a wellness area that offers guests an enlarged experience.

On the third floor we are welcomed by Just Like Home by Contract Lab, Tropicana Club by Rizoma Architetture and Into the Cloud by Barbara Vannucchi.

Contract Lab with Just Like Home intended to create a multifunctional space that meets the needs of comfort but also flexibility. Living room and kitchen area can become workspaces, visually divided by a suspended library, as well as the bedrooms, textured and multifaceted. A smart and green suite.

Tropicana Club by Rizoma Architetture tells a story made of joy and colour. An explosion of shapes that evoke pop atmospheres with industrial materials and bright nuances. The living area has a kitchenette created as a real corner bar; the bed is an imitation of a canopy that mixes graphic elements with metal materials.

Into the cloud, designed by Studio Vannucchi, is an invitation to lightness and to take care of ourselves through a repetitive format.

Just Light Home designed by Contract Lab. Photography by by Lago
Just Light Home designed by Contract Lab. Photography by by Lago

The Penthouse

The penthouse of DEMO, on the fourth and top floor, is the Sea Suite, designed by Studio Bizzarro with the shades of the sea. It is not just a suite but a fulfilling experience that makes peace with oneself in an environment made of light, tangible experiences, fragrances, and relaxing colours. A large terrace that connects the inside and the outside, a living room with a hidden kitchenette, a double room with a multi-sensory shower area.


Project Team 

Project Management – Hospitality Project – Filippo Covili Faggioli, Marco Pignocchi

Marketing consulting – Teamwork Hospitality

Artistic coordination and direction – Laura Verdi

Commercial Coordination – Piero Marini

Corporate identity – SANTACROCE DDC

Graphics – Anna Salvatori

Social Media – Carla Mussoni

Communication – Mara Antonetti

Photographer – Fabio Bascetta

Photographer – Francesca Pagliai

Photographer – Flavio Ricci

Photographer – Lago

Architectural and structural design and municipal practices – Loris Rinaldi

Electrical and special systems designer – ESA PROGETTI – Claudio Ottaviani

Thermohydraulic systems designer – LABORATORIODIMPIANTI – Andrea Raggini

Security Project – Vanessa Biffi

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