Publié le 14/03/2023

The Value of Craftsmanship:
Connecting You to Culture

Craftsmanship is more than a simple trend or style: it can be integral to a property’s design, or even the driving force behind it. When hoteliers call on the talents of local artisans, their properties take on a distinctive quality and authenticity that makes all the difference to guests.

The Value of Craftsmanship:|Connecting You to Culture

Mihir Garh © Joann Pai

Craftsmanship is more than a simple trend or style: it can be integral to a property’s design, or even the driving force behind it. When hoteliers call on the talents of local artisans, their properties take on a distinctive quality and authenticity that makes all the difference to guests.

Here are six properties that have built a bridge between venerable tradition and modern spirit. They have made artisanry central to their identity, thereby helping preserve generations-old techniques while furthering their improvement and forging ties with their communities. The presence of local crafts gives a place meaning, rooting the property in the land, its history, its people. 

The Mystique of Lalique

Villa René Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moder, France

This is a property whose every element is born of a lustrous and illustrious trade. Within these walls, everything pays homage to the savoir-faire of a company that mastered fire to forge the shimmering shapes that have made Lalique the very emblem of crystal. 

René Lalique built this villa in 1920, just before establishing his glassworks in Alsace. This was his home when staying in the region, and his family’s following the patriarch’s death in 1945. In 2015, after major renovations, the villa reopened as a hotel featuring six luxurious suites, each with décor inspired by a René Lalique motif: Hirondelles (Swallows), Rose, Zeila Panther, Dahlia, Dragon and Woman Mask.

Everywhere–from sconces to coffee tables, lamp bases to door handles, even the gourmet restaurant’s lighting and tableware–are celebrations of the beauty and sparkle of Lalique’s trademark approach to crystal.

© Joann Pai

The Beauty in Every Wood

In Lain Hotel Cadonau, Brail, Switzerland

The Cadonau family has embraced woodworking for centuries, and the exemplary artisanship of the Hotel Cadonau showcases just how embedded the craft is in their heart and soul. In the 1970s, when the former farmhouse was converted into a restaurant and then, in 2006, when it became a hotel, the transformations were achieved largely thanks to the expertise of the family's own carpentry workshop. Its skills, knowledge and ecological approach hugely preceded the concept of sustainability so in vogue today.

The term in lain means 'made of wood', and almost everything here is just that: not only the structure and the walls, but also all the furniture and sculpture work, made in the factory under the direction of Marco Cadonau, who took over the carpentry business from his father a few years ago (his brother Dario has been running the hotel and restaurant kitchens since 2010).

The heritage of the Engadin region is on display in every room, with carved and turned wood executed in different styles–traditional in La Stüvetta restaurant, and contemporary in the gourmet restaurant VIVANDA and the hotel's modern suites.

© Marco Cadonau

The Journeys within a Journey

The Inn of the Five Graces, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

This one-of-a-kind hotel is a place where arts and crafts from different countries combine in a joyous rainbow of eclecticism. This profusion of textures, colors, and patterns might otherwise seem confusing, but here it all makes sense thanks to the curational talents of the property’s owners–and what takes this collection far beyond mere decorative charm is what each item represents in their journey through life. 

Starting in the late 1960s, Ira Seret would travel to Afghanistan, on the hunt for interesting objects and inspiration. He then met Sylvia, an embroiderer, and they continued the journey together, designing their own pieces, bringing in carpets and curios from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tibet and Türkiye. In each country, they would track down the best artisans and order their wares. 

In 1981, they moved to Santa Fe and opened an extraordinary shop, Seret & Sons, filled with their colorful finds. Today, the Inn of the Five Graces is an extension of this passion, the embodiment of an approach to life which, despite its overseas origins, dovetails perfectly with the free-spirited attitude of Santa Fe.

Right: © Kodiak Greenwood

A History Carved in Wood

Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino, Canada

The ocean, the sky, the trees: the Wickaninnish Inn embodies the spirit of the Pacific Northwest, a deep and reverential connection with nature. In 1978, on this rocky promontory, caressed by the waves and wind, craftsman Henry Nolla built a vacation home for the McDiarmid family. This simple wooden cabin was the beginning of what would eventually become the Wickaninnish Inn. 

Henry was not only a gifted carpenter. He was also a brilliant and inventive wood carver and was ultimately invited by the McDiarmid family to settle on their property. Until his death in 2004, Henry inspired and brought together a community of craftspeople who all left their marks in the wood and on the community. His cabin still stands, now named The Carving Shed, used by artisans who work there in residence. You can admire their work nearly everywhere in the hotel, even in a rye-whisky cocktail infused with cedar wood.

Right: © Michael Becker 2016

A Mirage in the Desert

Mihir Garh, Jodhpur, India

There are dozens of forts and palaces in Rajasthan that have been turned into luxury hotels. This one, however, is quite different, having been built from the ground up, opening in 2009. It was a dream come true for its owners, Sidharth and Rashmi Singh, who designed every last detail of the property.

It took two years and a hundred local craftspeople to bring forth a building from the sand, showcasing the area’s traditional construction techniques and craftsmanship. Guest room floors are rendered in plaster, created through a process known by only a few artisans; the fireplaces are carefully crafted in cow dung and clay by the women of the neighboring villages.

To furnish this building of artisanal and ancient work, Rashmi chose pieces one by one from the region: carved wooden furniture; embroidered and mirrored accessories from western Rajasthan; brass lamps. For a contemporary touch, portraits of women on the dining room walls were painted by a young designer. 

© Joann Pai

Five Centuries of Modernity

Asaba, Shuzenji, Izu, Japan

Asaba captures the quintessence of Japanese craftsmanship, as ancient in technique as it is modern in form. Clean, uncluttered lines meet soft colors that give the landscape pride of place, paired with the water of the soothing hot springs. The blue of traditional Japanese indigo forms geometric patterns on the noren (curtains) and cushions, while shojis (sliding wooden partitions) frame the quiet spaces, and black-bordered tatami mats pattern the floor. 

The ancient portion of this ryokan is home to carved wooden lintels and ornaments with plant motifs. Against these timeless traditions, a juxtaposition: the abstract art of Lee Ufan or the electronic art of Tatsuo Miyajima resonate comfortably. Sitting in an armchair by Swedish designer Bruno Mathsson, guests get a sense of the influence that Japanese crafts have had on contemporary Scandinavian designers. Everything here has a meaning–each object, each bowl, bears the intention, even the signature, of the artisan who made it. 

Right: © Kenji Kudo photography
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