By Meghan Dwyer
From the exterior, it’s hard to believe that the walls of the soaring Edwardian-era building on Cuba Street in Wellington, New Zealand hold the interior wonders that they do. The iconic landmarked structure, originally one of the inexpensive, alcohol-free People’s Palace hotels built by the Salvation Army in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has been transformed by Auckland-based Material Creative into a revolutionary new lodging, the Naumi Studio Hotel Wellington.
“The hotel is curated around the idea of our Lady Naumi, a literary bohemian character who calls the People’s Palace home,” says Toni Brandso, co-founder, along with Liv Patience, of Auckland-based Material Creative. “Our zeitgeisty character captures the spirit, thought, and feeling of the period of the People’s Palace now and then. The hotel feels like her home of wunderkammer collections.”
Upon entry, maximalism takes over, from botanical references to a riotous mix of furniture, both old and new. Spaces, inspired by seafaring, the literary world, and lush gardens take on daring characters of their own, yet come together seamlessly, building upon one another’s energy. “Reception is a plethora of color, creating a visual feast while being the central heartbeat of the hotel,” says Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala, CEO of Naumi Hotels Australia & New Zealand. The company boasts seven design hotels in its portfolio in Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. “We like to surprise and delight with our Naumi hotels, and this is a space that does just that.”
At every turn and doorway, guests are introduced to a sensual wonderland that pushes the boundaries of color and pattern. Corridors on each level are a total gradient of one hue, inspired by Lady Naumi and her husband’s journeys on the Silk Road, while the private dining room boasts daring contrasts for a spirited ambiance that feels like a tucked away sanctuary.
The 116 guestrooms feature one of four rich color palettes, says Brandso. “Weaving through a wonderful homey feel, each room features a silk thread artwork by fine artist Hayley Brown of the NY Art Dept,” while headboards play homage to the building’s architecture and are inspired by the turn-of-the-century logo still found on the hotel’s façade.
Additional vibrant works by local and international artists and designers reflect
the lively, quirky nature of the surrounding neighborhood, known for a combination of high-low art galleries, record stores, cheap eats, and fine dining. Naumi Studio Hotel Wellington’s induction to the heritage building on Cuba Street therefore feels not like an odd-fitting newcomer, but the found missing piece to a puzzle—perfectly at home.
Owner and Management Company: Naumi Hotels
Interior Design Firm: Material Creative, AUckland
Artwork: Hayley Brown/NY Art Dept, Fuman, Angus Muir, and Blackie Gallery
Furniture: Archer Hospitality, Me and My Trend, Corso De Fiori, ECC, and Houtique
Bar and Dining Furniture: HUB Furniture, Me and My Trend, Soren Liv, Harrows, Design Warehouse, The Arc Dept, and UFL
Lighting: Eunice Taylor, Zero Uno, Angus Muir, Trit House, Soktas, Houtique, ECC, MC, and Luke Jacomb
Rugs: Nodi Rugs and Designer Rugs
Cushions and Fabrics: Imogen Heath, Citta, You’re Welcome, and Icon Textiles