Interior Spaces vs Art?

Lobby fireplace

Interior Spaces vs Art?

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” We have all heard this truism before. How about its sister, “Reality is nothing more than one’s perception?” Both phrases are just our attempts to simplify why appreciation of art is so subjective. You need go no further than Denver International Airport or the Convention Center with their “Demon Horse”, “Giant Blue Bear”, and “Dancing Aliens” to find controversy over what is “good” art. How then, does the architect or interior designer create “good” design? Architecture and Interior Design are, after all, visual and experiential art.

To me, the answer lies not only in the purely visual aesthetics of art, but in the additional overly of the functionality of space. Interior architecture molds spaces to create meaning and purpose. The created space is dependent on its function. For example: a hotel lobby is designed for the purpose of welcoming guests into the hotel by creating a first impression. The guestroom design should elicit a sense of comfort and serenity, rather than chaos. How these areas are designed is vital to the hotel’s functionality, identity and consequently, the guest experience.

The Doubletree by Hilton in Denver exemplifies this principle. The newly renovated hotel is a blend of abundant natural light, fresh finishes and clearly defined functional spaces. The lobby, with its over-sized linear fireplace, backlit Appaloosa pony art and warm-hued millwork creates a casual elegance which defines the character of the hotel while effortlessly directing the guest to the classically modern registration modules.


Adjacent to the lobby is “The Hub”. This lobby bar is strategically located to energize the lobby and to beckon guests to stop by once checked-in. The lobby and The Hub share the fireplace and art, connecting the two spaces while creating a separation of functions.

Similarly, “Grounded”, the coffee shop and market next door, invites the guest to relax, enjoy a coffee and muffin, while catching up on news, work, friends or family. The market-like finishes, chalkboard wall, and lighting compliments the function of the space.

“Knife & Board” is a restaurant that offers guests a culinary experience, featuring a pizza hearth, fresh, local produce, and an organic décor. Up-lit birch branches and comfortable seating provide nestling areas for diners that allow guests to be within, but apart from the buzz of a busy restaurant.


Soon to be completed in 2020 is the renovation of the 565 guestrooms and suites. This “functional art” addresses the need for the guestroom to be a place of rest and serenity. In this case, the artwork, materials, lines, and lighting do the heavy lifting of creating that sense of repose and, in conjunction with the functional aspects of the room, create a cohesive whole.


Design affects the way people live, relax, dine, play, learn, and entertain. The aesthetic aspect of design, the colors, textures and forms create the emotional, experiential element to the perception. To quote the famous architect Zaha Hadid, “Architecture is really about well-being. I think that people want to feel good in a space….On one hand it is about shelter, but it’s also about pleasure.”