Charles Wilson and the hefty beasts

A story about one of the original Hotel Hotel collaborators, Charles Wilson.

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Charles Wilson. One of four in the Broached line-up (as you may remember Broached was commissioned to make functional pieces for Hotel Hotel; inspired by the Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffins…).

From his mind we scored two couches.

These are not your usual couches – they are made of bronze… These elegantly hefty beasts are going to live for thousands of years. Why bronze? Well for one, the client (that’s us) has a ‘no veneers’ mantra, for two these pieces are a response to the public lounge interiors accessed by the Grand stair which is made from thousands of pieces of wood. And the lounge itself is furnished with wooden chairs and tables. So maybe that’s enough wood for one space.

The couches are upholstered with Italian Verona leather; in dark brown leather.

First and foremost they are a tribute to the Griffins’ love for the rigor of geometry and their tendency to make decoration an integral part of their architecture.

The geometric form is inspired by the Pyrmont garbage incinerator in Sydney, designed by the Griffins and built in 1935. It’s an interesting building namely because of the façade’s incredible detail; especially given that it was an industrial building (and a stinky incinerator).

Ornamental geometry features heavily as does an obvious pre-Columbian Mayan influence that comes across in the repetition in lines and ritual looking symbols. Marion Mahony Griffin is noted to have said that the incinerator would stand as a monument to modern architecture. Despite its beauty however, it was put out of operation just over 30 years later (not long for a monument…) and left to decay by the City Council. After 20 years of protest, the building was demolished in 1992 and the site was sold for development into apartments.

Both Charles and the Griffins made an everyday, potentially boring (incinerators and couches are not generally that inspiring…) object into something rare and beautiful.

The contrast of the indestructible nature of the couches and the incinerator’s demolition might be read as a bit of an eff you to the City powers that pulled it down (although I’m not sure that that was Charles’ intention, I like it).

Being a modern man, the pieces are also a response to Charles’ good firm grasp on technology. The couches have been designed in a 3D modeling program (lots of lines that link up with lots of other lines…and lots of patience needed). These lines form the basis of the couches’ timber cast and were put into another machine that sent information to robots to carve out the cast… …That’s it, innit Charles?

A hefty beast in the public lounge shot by Dave Wheeler for Belle Magazine

(2 of 2) A hefty beast in the public lounge shot by Dave Wheeler for Belle Magazine


Making Hotel Hotel – Stories about the people and ideas that made Hotel Hotel. There were many. It was messy. Good messy.

Date 21 Apr, 2015
People Charles Wilson
Place Monster
Category ↳ Furniture
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