Marcel Wanders revels in the exuberant Arabic aesthetic

DOHA, Qatar – The word ‘lavish’ doesn’t cut it when it comes to describing the newly opened Mondrian Doha, designed in collaboration with Dutch designer Marcel Wanders alongside South West Architecture. It’s as though Alice got lost on her way down the rabbit hole and arrived in Qatar, skipping Wonderland.

In Wanders’ distinctive style, architectural elements and furnishings are blown out of proportion and interpreted with different materials to render them as memorable as possible – giant columns with golden eggs, a ‘tree of life’ comprised of flowers, and intricate mosaic tiling to name a few.

Interpreting Arabic culture through a modern lens, the hotel’s architecture and interiors mirror the futuristic image exuded by Doha as a global capital. A giant hookah, patterned carpets, ornate stained glass and details such as the light fixtures by the elevator are all rooted in local cultural and traditional imagery.


The 270-room hotel is intentionally analogous to a fantasy book, full of intrigue and surprises. ‘Stories connect us to our history, our culture and to each other,’ Wanders explains. ‘Stepping into Mondrian Doha begins the first chapter of a wonderful story that unfolds around every turn.’

‘While many themes are collectively layered throughout the hotel, each individual space tells its own tale. Guests may therefore have many different experiences, and weave for themselves a collection of stories to share.’

Indeed, the Mondrian Doha contains a series of vastly different interiors, going from a graphic black-and-white poolside crowned by an impressive stained-glass skylight, to a bridal suite that features Wanders’ signature furniture pieces and a 24k-gold-sculpted private caged elevator for exclusive access to and from the various event halls. The hotel spa offers twelve treatment rooms, a heat experience garden, and traditional Turkish hammam in a mysterious space with black-and-white-tiles, deep blue ceilings, and golden centrepieces.

Although each functional area offers a completely different style and ambiance, it is hard to deny the connections between the various interiors and the Arabic context. Symbolic, graphic, and soulful – the hotel transports guests from the ordinary world to one that is adventurous, playful, and imaginative.

Hospitality has strayed away from a cookie-cutter design approach to embrace local contexts, and the Mondrian is no exception - it presents a bold set of ideas of how hospitality can stimulate our own imagination, with a taste of Doha’s culture.

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