Sapphire House: A gem inspired Autograph by Marriott hotel

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This project features:
A custom design inspired by diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds
The Butterfly design from Highline Express Cultures

Photo credits: Peter Baas Fotografie

The neo gothic building housing Sapphire House in Antwerp, Belgium, has been welcoming guests since the 16th century. In that period, the place was called The Great Ruby and in fact, this Autograph by Marriott hotel is located at Antwerp’s most precious heritage; the first global exchange, where people from all corners of the world met to trade goods, experiences and ideas. With the gemstone trade specifically, Antwerp brought luxury to Europe. And nowadays, every diamond travels through Antwerp at least once.

The design direction: Diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds

The creative team of the transformational process was led by architect Debby Wentink from HUGO interieurvormgeving. According to the brief handed over to the team, and in perfect line with the Autograph by Marriott concept, the interior of this luxury boutique hotel had the overall objectives of inviting guests to connect with the rich history of the building, engaging with its pioneering spirit and indulging in its brilliance.


Preliminary architectural research revealed that the historical walls and ceilings consisted of four main colour schemes embracing beige, red, blue and green. Back in time, these four colour stories were designed to perfectly match The Big Four; namely diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds which make up some of the most precious stones. Debby explains: “Combining Antwerp’s remarkable gemstone heritage with the revelation of these historical colour choices, the interior design of the hotel simply had to be gem inspired.”


The extended research was made to ensure that the storytelling and visual concept would honour the heritage of the location, the building itself and the city of Antwerp. That was how the team found out that the monumental part of the hotel used to be named The Great Ruby, an extraordinary fact which only confirmed that the chosen design direction was the right one!

A gem inspired colour palette

The gem inspired colour palette already unfolds when guests are welcomed in the sapphire blue reception area which leads to the ruby red restaurant designed to reflect a collaborative marketplace. This vibrant heart of the hotel is a perfect meeting place elegantly connected to the lobby that exudes a more relaxing atmosphere with its subdued beige colour scheme. The historical state room represents the emerald with green, luxurious velvet sofas and chairs.


The design story: Exactly like nothing else

Like all Autograph Collection by Marriott hotels, Sapphire House is carefully designed to be exactly like nothing else. Debby explains: “Maybe you can imagine that the monumental and historical elements were both a blessing and a curse? Our design aimed at weighing the pros and cons to create a hotel that would embrace the inherent craft and authenticity of the building. During the concept development it was our main goal to capture and celebrate the historic character and grandeur of this landmark to create precious memories of Antwerp for every single hotel guest.”

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Debby further elaborates that one of the ways to balance the characteristics of the present and the past was specifying very soft and tactile materials as markable contrasts to the harder historical materials and architectural frames.

The carpet as an acoustic helper

Because of the building’s monumental status and history, the design team wanted the floors to reflect materials from those eras. However, having stone floors all over would be an acoustic challenge. Especially because the team wasn’t allowed to mount anything on the walls and ceilings. Therefore, carpet was specified as an effective acoustic solution also creating the crucial warm and luxurious atmosphere.


The carpet as a storyteller

With two carefully specified carpet patterns; one bespoke carpet design and the Butterfly design from the Highline Express Cultures collection, all carpets represent the character of the hotel.

The design of the carpets adorning the entrance areas and floor -1 is custom made in cooperation with wallcovering company Glamora. Their wallcovering is used for reflecting the grand voyage of trading through time and place by letting memories and emotions slip into the travellers’ minds as they conjure up images of countries and places, they might have visited themselves.


In the lobby, the design team aimed at creating a soothing interior that combines historic details with modern sensibilities. The lobby is set in soft hues and clean lines that allow the historic character to shine through. Modern ruby and diamond toned décor in sleek lines and soft fabrics create a welcoming setting for relaxation.

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The Butterfly carpet design in diamond-coloured tones creates a lush yet natural backdrop to the room and a sense of spatial depth. Furthermore, it symbolises comfort and lightness, which are the exact features guests are looking for in a luxury boutique hotel lobby, according to Debby.

Our studio has established a longtime cooperation with Ege Carpets, that should say it all.

- Debby Wentink, architect at HUGO interieurvormgeving

About our collaboration, Debby says: “We prefer to work with Ege Carpets because of their extensive amount of collections and designs, the variety in their designs and the possibilities to adjust the designs in colour, size and form. Being the specialist, Ege Carpets offer their expertise after listening to our ideas. Processing our designs into drawings and samples – and getting them for evaluation fast – stimulates the process and results in various distinctive projects.“

Reach out – we're here to help

Want to tell stories of your own gems on the floor? Order your free sample folders and carpet samples right away – it’s free of charge:

If you need professional advice and inspiration, we’re happy to offer our support at any time. So, reach out to your local consultant who’s only a click or call away.

We can’t wait to hear from you!


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Written by Mette Frydensbjerg Jacobsen: Mette is Ege Carpets' fashion savvy communications expert. Her keen eye for the sweet spot between beautiful carpets and great stories makes her our favourite pick for inspiring you with Project of the Month.

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