Thursday Salute to Originals: Colorful Backlit Animated Ceilings by Jean Nouvel

Today we are looking one incredibly unique hotel ceiling. It’s a burst of bright colors, an underwater world over the top of your head, a focal point of the city at night, and even a salute to contemporary art.

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The Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom hotel in Vienna, Austria is designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. He invited Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist to create five backlit ceilings with custom art graphics at five areas of the building, which include the ceilings of the hotel entrance, the ground floor, and the top floor. Nouvel wanted Rist to introduce vivid colors to this minimal architecture remaining predominantly in shades of gray and black. The glazed façades on both the ground floor and the top floor are created as fine and transparent as possible so that the backlit ceilings become beacons from the outside.

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With an education background in Commercial Art and Visual Communications, Pipilotti Rist is a master of visual stimulation. Her exhibitions and video installations usually involve huge amount of bold bright colors and unconventional video shots. When asked the design inspiration for these hotel ceilings in an interview, Rist said she and her team decided on the themes of “gravity” and “the history of perspective” pretty naturally. Inspired by the Trompe-l’œil tradition, the five images for the ceilings show scenes viewed from below: from underwater over the banks of a pond, or up through tree branches away from the world towards the sky.

“Guests should feel welcome and inspired. If they come back to the hotel again, there’s plenty
of detail to discover in the artworks. When they look at the ceiling, guests and staff should feel
uplifted and grow taller”, Rist explained.

The artful backlit ceiling makes the restaurant on the top floor a place where everyone would love to hang out or just to have a unique dining experience. We are absolutely blown away by the pure aesthetics of these artistic ceiling surfaces and their close interface with the architectural design. We feel so strongly drawn to this project because it is a manifestation of what we believe in, that creating a signature backlit piece is more than a lighting source; it can become the expression or icon of an entire building.

Image Credits: Miss Viki Secrets, Dezeen, Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom