The renovated interior of Hotel Royal in Vaasa combines bold colors and unique patterns

The renovated tower building of the Original Sokos Hotel Royal in Vaasa opened in February 2024. The interior design was led by the award-winning Helsinki-based KOKO3, which even designed completely new upholstery fabrics for the hotel. Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales supplied a large portion of the hotel’s furniture.

The lobby of the Sokos Hotel Royal in Vaasa, Finland
The Original Sokos Hotel Royal, located in Vaasa, opened in February 2024 after the completion of a massive renovation project.

THE HOTEL ROYAL, located in the center of Vaasa in Finland, is undergoing a thorough transformation. The first phase of the renovation, the hotel’s 11-story tower building, was completed in February 2024. The renovation of the Central building, located across the street, is expected to be finished in 2025.

The renovation and modernization of the Royal hotel represent the most significant investment in Vaasa’s tourism infrastructure in decades by its owner, the Cooperative KPO. “We are creating the most experiential hotel complex on the west coast on Finland from the new Original Sokos Hotel Royal, based on the principles of sustainable development,” says hotel manager Max Hellqvist.

The hotel’s most spectacular views can be found from the sauna area on the top floor, which, in addition to saunas, includes a rooftop terrace and a swimming pool. The renovation of the tower has focused on colorful hotel rooms and energy efficiency. The hotel will be heated with geothermal energy, and electricity will be generated from solar panels installed on the roof and the facade of the building.

“Light, color, sun, joy, and energy – that’s the essence of the new Original Sokos Hotel Royal,” says Max Hellqvist.

Finnish Design Shop Contract Sales
Vibrant colors and unique upholstery fabrics bring life to the hotel lobby. Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales supplied furniture, lighting, and decor items to Sokos Hotel Royal.
&Tradition Como SC53 portable table lamp
The portable Como table lamps are from &Tradition.
Hem Hunk lounge chair
At street level, there are spaces for both socializing and working. The plush Hunk lounge chair is from Hem.

The boldly colorful interior stands out

The hotel’s decor could be described as intriguing and contemporary: one of the biggest interior design trends in recent years is the bold use of colors, and the hotel’s color palette is also exceptionally rich. The decor in the hotel rooms employs different colors of the solar spectrum, such as bright yellow and blue.

Aino Brandt, the interior architect and founding partner of the design agency KOKO3, tells Design Stories that the idea to use colors stems from the identity of Vaasa. “The attributes of the city of Vaasa, namely the sun, happiness, energy, and joy, were at the core of the client’s brief. It was natural to manifest joy and light with colors and patterns.”

“We greatly admire the ingenious and bold use of colors by Aino and Alvar Aalto at the Paimio Sanatorium.”

Brandt also mentions the famous Paimio Sanatorium as one of the sources of inspiration. “We greatly admire the ingenious and bold use of colors by Aino and Alvar Aalto at the Paimio Sanatorium. The sun-yellow that brings light into spaces has particularly remained in our memory.”

Aino Brandt, KOKO3
Interior architect Aino Brandt from KOKO3 hopes that the hotel's decor and color scheme will also delight hotel guests.
A hotel lobby with a high ceiling
The sunny ambiance begins in the 15-meter-high lobby, which also features a relief work by artist Jenni Rope.
Valerie Objects Hanging Lamp n2, steel
The renovated lobby houses restaurants, bars, and event spaces.The Hanging Lamps are from valerie_objects.
Ferm Living, Dou lampshade 68 cm
In addition to Annala’s unique fabrics, the project also utilized upholstery fabrics from companies such as Orient Occident and Kvadrat. The rattan Dou lampshades are from ferm LIVING.

Art is a significant part of the hotel guest experience. Right from the lobby, visitors can find a relief work by Helsinki-based artist Jenni Rope, which is centrally placed on the end wall of the lobby. Further artworks by Jenni Rope can be found on the walls of the hotel rooms, and the unique interior fabrics found in the rooms, lobby, and restaurants can also be considered art. These have been woven at Annala, Finland’s only remaining interior and furniture fabric weaving mill. KOKO3 was responsible for the design of the upholstery fabrics.

“The collaboration with Annala was wonderful and seamless. We first made sketches of the patterns in different scales and color combinations. Annala then created test weavings from the wool upholstery fabrics. Based on these, the appearance and quality of the textiles were refined, and the final patterns were chosen for production. We are pleased that the furniture manufacturers used Annala’s upholstery fabrics in their own productions,” Aino Brandt explains.

Renovated guest room at Sokos Hotel Royal Vaasa
There are 139 renovated rooms, and their color scheme continues the hotel’s cheerful and energetic ambiance.
Renovated guest room at Sokos Hotel Royal Vaasa
The hotel rooms radiate different colors of the solar spectrum, from yellow to blue.
Renovated room at Sokos Hotel Royal Vaasa
The massive hotel renovation did not come without its challenges. “Renovating a building from the 1980s means strict sizing challenges. Seamlessly combining the new interior and technological elements was occasionally a tight squeeze,” describes Aino Brandt from KOKO3.

Collaboration with various stakeholders

Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales was pleased to assist in updating the Original Sokos Hotel Royal Vaasa to the current day.

“This is one of the largest hotel projects we have been involved in so far. We supplied furniture and lighting fixtures for hotel rooms, restaurants, the lobby, and hotel corridors,” says Johanna Lindberg from the Contract Sales. In addition to lighting and furniture, the hotel was also supplied with books and decorations that complete the various spaces.

“It was gratifying to see how well the Finnish Design Shop’s selection matched KOKO3’s plans.”

“It was gratifying to see how well the Finnish Design Shop’s selection matched KOKO3’s plans. There were hardly any changes to the furniture as the project progressed. It was clear to us from the beginning that local actors, such as Annala’s weaving mill, would be involved in the project. It was fantastic that the furniture was upholstered with fabrics designed by KOKO3 and produced by Annala, allowing for instance the Hunk lounge chair by Hem to acquire a completely new and unique look.”

Hem Hunk lounge chair
The Hunk lounge chair, designed by Kwangho Lee, received a completely new look with the upholstery fabric from Annala.
Vertigo Nova lamp
More of Jenni Rope’s artwork can be found in the hotel rooms. The Vertigo Nova pendant light is from Petite Friture.
Renovated hotel room in Hotel Royal Vaasa
“In selecting furniture and smaller decor items, functionality and sizing, as well as the principles of sustainability, were important factors for us. In addition to these, we were looking for playfulness,” explains Aino Brandt from KOKO3.

According to Lindberg, there is now a desire to invest in hotel room decor: a good bed is no longer enough, but quality lighting fixtures, unique textiles, and designer furniture are ways to stand out. “It is apparent that the line between ’traditional’ and boutique hotels is somewhat blurring, as hotel guests are now looking for experiences and quality,” Lindberg explains.

Genuine enthusiasm for the project has been evident from everyone involved. “The collaboration was really easy and smooth from the beginning. And best of all, the results of KOKO3’s design work look fantastic, and I can’t think of another hotel where colors have been used so boldly, stylishly, and soothingly,” Johanna Lindberg rejoices.

Shop the style

Hunk lounge chair
Juice vase
Dou lampshade
Wooden doll
Como table lamp
Nordic Cycle book
Petite Friture
Vertigo Nova lamp
Gravity table lamp

See also:

Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales >

Edit: Mikko Vaija Images: Riikka Kantinkoski

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