Designer’s Muse: Steffi Backhouse, GA Design – Waldorf Amsterdam

Last week, Design Insider visited the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam with Steffi Backhouse of GA Design to learn about the inspiration behind her design for the hotel and how the rich and vibrant history of both the building and city provided the stimuli for much of the scheme.


Located in UNESCO heritage site Herengracht in the very centre of Amsterdam, the five-star luxury hotel started life as six 17th century canal palaces. Since then, it has been used a bank and the home of former Mayor Hendrik Hooft and it is this full and varied past and link to public life that GA Design sought to preserve in the plans for the building. In addition to this, the surrounding landscape and existing artwork and architectural features in the hotel also fed in to the narrative of the new design for the hotel.

To take the same tour of the hotel we were treated to by Steffi and learn more about the design, as well as listen to Steffi’s thoughts on what design means to her and where the contract furnishing industry is headed in the coming years.

Waldorf Astoria, Amsterdam: Project Breakdown

Many of the furnishings used in the realisation of GA’s design for the hotel were provided by companies in the BCFA’s membership.

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Flooring – BCFA member Ulster Carpets designed and manufactured the carpets in each of the hotel’s 93 guest rooms. Inspired by the low-lying Dutch landscape and canal visible from each of the rooms, as well as existing artworks in the hotel, each of the designs was inspired by watercolour paintings. Spread over multiple levels, the size and layout of each guest room was completely unique and Ulster used the latest technology to ensure each carpet fitted the room perfectly and crafted to create the absolute minimum of waste.


Upholstery – The Isle Mill provided drapery for the design and Harlequin supplied the fabric used in the guest rooms, ballroom and royal suite. Société Lelievre contributed drapery used in many of the suites and public spaces, and fabric from their Velvet FR collection in the shade; “Sultan” was used in the restaurant and bar – the rich colour recalling more of the country’s famous artwork. As Lelievre commented; “Sultan has a wonderful sheen and drapes beautifully creating a modern take on the fabrics of the Dutch paintings.”Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 15.32.44

Lighting – Heathfield Lighting supplied table lamps for each of the guest suites, as well as creating bespoke chandeliers used in the multi0fucntionl and versatile lobby at the heart of the hotel.


In February Designer’s Muse will focus on Pattern and Texture, with an exploration of manufacturing techniques behind wallpaper design. 


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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