The Archetype Paper Issue 6

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EDITOR’S LETTER A journey of discovery 5 INVESTOR’S PERSPECTIVE Rooms with a capital view 6 An authentic experience 12 THE DESIGNER’S PERSPECTIVE A palazzo for a prince 16 Setting the boutique mood 18 When the lights go down in the city 20 All within context 24

Issue 6 May 2015 Editor Victor Calleja Publisher Dark Dragon Media Ltd. Photography Sean Mallia, Alan Carville, Charles Calleja Facebook thearchetypepaper Subscriptions Printing Best Print Ltd. Distribution Maltapost plc.

The Archetype Paper is a quarterly magazine about architecture, design, interiors, furniture & visual art.

NEWS A workshop of ideas 25 Laufen 26 Financing boutique hotels in Malta 29 When art checks in 31 Canford reverse osmosis systems 32 No fiddling on the roof 33 Switch it on 34

Cover: Valletta - Barrakka Lift Photo: Sean Mallia

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Dark Dragon Media Ltd. Opinions expressed in The Archetype Paper are not necessarily those of the editor. All care has been taken to ensure truth and accuracy, but the editor, the editorial board and the publishers cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions in the articles, pictographs or illustrations.

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Photo: Sean Mallia

“The beauty of the Piano project, even if derided by many, is the new boldness of interpreting our capital city.�


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Editor’s letter A journey of discovery

Life is but a book of stories. And the ones we remember most are those we were told as children. Sleeping Beauty slept for 100 years and was awakened by a loving kiss from her prince. Valletta, our fairytale capital, never really slept – however, for years, it did lie unnoticed, unappreciated. It was a working city, with the dull sheen of a Monday morning office. Its lustre had gone and so had its people. The city which had once danced to midnight balls and lured sailors like a beautiful siren was silent. Then, like a prince in shining armour, we revived Valletta and stripped it of its old tired look. People did not immediately flock back. But now it is vibrant and throbbing, a true city, resplendent in all its glory. As with all revivals and with anything manmade, Valletta has its weak points and there are some architectural horrors. But nothing is perfect, not even our baroque jewel. And that’s why it’s beautiful. A city needs to live, evolve, move on. Valletta was built as a fortified city with massive stocky walls defending its ramparts, an austere place with few adornments until the baroque era took over and the city was transformed. Today accommodation for travellers in Valletta, neglected for way too long, is being given its due importance. The small boutique hotel is the new wave in Valletta, capturing the imagination of travellers and locals alike and revolutionising what was boring and repetitive. Staying for a few days or weeks in these “guesthouses” is an experience like no other. Tourism has changed, evolved and moved on, just like Valletta and its accommodation.

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A city cannot stay still or go back in time – and that is why we could not have revived Valletta in an idiom long gone. The beauty of the Piano project, even if derided by many, is the new boldness of interpreting our capital city. Valletta was designed and built as an impregnable city. Today, we do not fear foreign invasions. And Valletta is now rightly more open and inclusive with an entrance that is grandly inviting. Likewise the Barrakka lift is controversial but its design reflects the present: sleek, functional, fast, aspiring to the future. The soaring design rises from the old and is elevated by the new. It invites the visitor to explore new vistas. Like all good things the Valletta wave of accommodation has also caught on in other localities. Boutique living for our most welcome foreign guests is in and this too is something worth applauding as part of our evolution. We are thankfully more adventurous in the way we greet our visitors. From appealing to their basest as we did with mass tourism, we now seek to give an unique offering to each and every individual who comes ashore. In the same way The Archetype Paper keeps evolving, ever-ready to find new areas to discover, analyse, and enjoy. This is my first issue as editor and I feel honoured and humbled, faced with the daunting task of maintaining the high standards established by my predecessors. I hope you will all enjoy the journey with The Archetype Paper.


Boutique Hotels

Rooms with a


Casa Ellul successfully marries past, present and future through its unique style and architecture.

Investor’s perspective

“Early Victorian architects ingeniously maximised very precious and restricted sites without forfeiting aesthetics and comfort.”

Located in the heart of the capital city of Valletta, Ellul Wines & Spirits was founded by Fortunato Ellul, who was then known by the nickname “tal-maxxata”. Things have come a long way for the directors, Matthew and Andrew Ellul since then. The Ellul brothers have indeed excelled in their endeavour of making their 154-year-old experience unsurpassable. Not only do the Ellul brothers, now the fourth generation of this enthusiastic line of businessmen, own the wine and spirits bar that hosts a vast selection of fine wines and spirits but they have also invested heavily into Valletta’s very first small luxury boutique hotel: Casa Ellul. It was the end of 2011 when the Ellul brothers saw an opportunity to expand their business. They took the plunge and decided to move a bit further afield from their ancestors and diverge their efforts from the traditional food and beverage industry to hotel and catering with the introduction of Casa Ellul in Valletta. Together with architect and designer Chris Briffa they planned the painstaking restoration and transformation of their Victorian period house. Finally, to their great satisfaction Casa Ellul opened in the summer of 2014. Undoubtedly the archetype paper

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this was a plus not only for themselves but also for the capital city. This palazzo proudly hosts eight personalised suites, many of which surround a pretty courtyard. The decor has been uniquely designed by Briffa, whose thoughtful approach fluently integrates space and function into a haven of personal luxury, intended to provide guests with all that they might require for their city stay. Casa Ellul dates back to the Victorian era and was possibly built during the early 19th century. Although the precise date of Casa Ellul’s construction is not known, it was sometime around 1830 when an earlier building dating to Hospitaller times was demolished to make way for this new group of houses. This was a time when Baroque and Rococo opulence was shifting towards a more toned down but increasingly elegant fashion characterised by a sense of lightness. Property investors wanted to move away from the ageing cumbersome dark mansions left from the days of chivalry. Increased demand for more affordable real estate also rendered such huge buildings redundant. Early Victorian architects ingeniously maximised very precious and restricted sites without forfeiting aesthetics and comfort.


Boutique Hotels


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Investor’s perspective

“Casa Ellul gives Valletta’s magic a high-end echo of the grandeur of long gone times, when the city was full of life and charm.”

Casa Ellul is a perfect example of this. The stunning boutique hotel is a magnificent celebration of a marriage between the past and the future when it comes to style, architecture, design and decor. Situated just a stone’s throw away from the Carmelite Church in Old Theatre Street, Casa Ellul gives Valletta’s magic a high-end echo of the grandeur of long gone times, when the city was full of life and charm. Every little item has been individually selected to promote perfection, including prestigious local and global antiques individually selected from renowned Parisian markets. The impeccable 360-degree panorama that can be enjoyed from the boutique hotel’s rooftop is the main attraction of the property. On one side, the church dome towers over the viewer boasting its massiveness and contrasting the normal experience of being viewed from a greater distance. On the other side, the view comprises Valletta’s unique rooftops dotted with a number of domes, the recently restored Manoel Island fort across Marsamxett harbour and glimpses of Sliema’s seafront development. Characteristics such as the exquisite vestibule, the colonnaded fireplace in the sala nobile, the concertina doors and patterned tiles all add to the finery of the house. Mythology and allegory have also found their place in the house. At the climb of the staircase on the piano nobile lives the ‘tork’, a statue of a familiar face in many Maltese houses, like a talisman of sorts. It is however in the courtyard that the centrepiece of the whole house can be found. Upon entering the house you are immediately drawn to the prospettiva at the back of the cortile. Here stands a statue of Heracles, the ancient Greek divine hero, sheltered in a finely executed iconic shrine. the archetype paper

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Investor’s perspective Steeped in history, the boutique hotel offers its visitors the ultimate cultural experience of living in an authentic Victorian-period house, where you are invited to unwind, relax, and be inspired by the surrounding, awe-inspiring rooftop views. The ground floor area, apart from serving as the main reception, caters for the breakfast area. This can be easily transformed into an intimate environment by night, with guests enjoying the exclusive courtyard guarded by Hercules. The dual experience of a classic, yet stylish, guesthouse on the lower floors and contemporary rooftop spaces surrounded by private upper terraces, make this project a unique and very alternative experience. Valletta, today a world heritage site, is highly sought after by many tourists who visit Malta but availability of high quality accommodation is very scarce. Casa Ellul offers everything a discerning traveller needs for a comfortable stay in this wonderful city.

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Boutique Hotels

An authentic experience

“Flexibility may be a big challenge for large hotel groups, but for small properties like the ones we manage, this is a unique advantage”

These past few years have seen the birth of a relatively new concept in Malta’s hospitality sector: the boutique hotel. Investors seeking growth through hospitality can do so by opting for smaller properties, converting them into unique destinations and promoting them with tourists who are after a different experience than that offered by a standard hotel. 12

It might not necessarily be a matter of refinement but more about wanting something different, and perhaps authentic. Tourists are discovering that the experience of visiting a new country is better enjoyed when they choose to reside in a property that is authentic and in synch with the place they visit. “Entering this industry however is not only about investing in the property. It is about managing the property, making it work, promoting it and generating business out of it. This is where Hotelogique comes in and where we are gaining priceless experience and know-how about this very interesting sector,” explains JanKarl Farrugia, founding partner and director of the hotel management company. Founded in 2013 by Farrugia himself and Frankie Spiteri, Hotelogique was born out the archetype paper

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Investor’s perspective

“The boutique hotel industry is still in its infancy but it is already showing what a diverse and interesting sector it is.”

of the gradual growth of the boutique hotel business. It has proved to be an ideal solution for those who have the means to enter this business but lack the know-how on how to manage it. “The boutique hotel industry is still in its infancy but it is already showing what a diverse and interesting sector it is. The potential for growth is there: we are feeling it on a daily basis and we are proud to have been there from the start,” adds Farrugia. Hotelogique offers a centralised management system where properties are managed independently but resources are shared. Properties enjoy the sales and marketing effort provided by Hotelogique and this ultimately makes these boutique hotels profitable and successful for their owners and investors.

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“Since we are dealing with small properties of an average of 10 to 15 or 20 rooms, the service we are offering remains a personalised one yet with the competitive advantage that suits small boutique hotels. People opting for boutique living expect more attention because they are in direct contact with who is running the property. We see this as an advantage because we get to learn more from what customers are saying and we are in a position to address their suggestions for improvement. The bottom line is that flexibility may be a big challenge for large hotel groups, but for small properties like the ones we manage, this is a unique advantage.” Hotelogique’s first property under its management was Palazzo Prince d’Orange located in St Paul Street, Valletta. This 17th century palazzo has been expertly restored and converted by ARC Studios in a way that

marries the building’s noble past with its exciting future. The property is made up of a number of luxury suites highly equipped with modern amenities, commanding magnificent city and harbour views and meeting the demands of today’s discerning tourist who yearns for a new breed of hotels. These unique hotels can satisfy such ideals, and if done right in terms of design and finishes, they can also enable the island to attract a higher end traveller. Valletta is striving to deliver a holistic high-end product through the regeneration of its streets and squares, restaurants and other unique venues. The rest of the island needs to follow suit and other locations that offer a hotel accommodation can then attract better spending tourists,” explains Farrugia. “Therefore it was rather uncanny that Palazzo Prince d’Orange had to be our


Investor’s perspective very first managed property because it is very representative of what Hotelogique is all about. This property encapsulates the essence of our brand philosophy and direction, that of managing quality properties to deliver more quality to our guests. This is also a reflection of the direction our country needs to take in order to keep attracting more quality visitors,” adds Farrugia. Activity is picking up for Hotelogique. Besides taking over a 14-room boutique hotel in St Julian’s, to be called Jules Suites, currently being redesigned and refurnished, Hotelogique is busy preparing for the launch of a brand new chain of boutique hotels in Gozo. Quaint Boutique Hotels is a new brand consisting of a chain of village properties, all in the very heart of the village core where they will be located. The first of these properties is located in Nadur and is expected to be receiving its first guests by May. The other three properties will be in Għajnsielem, Xewkija and Sannat. These elegant properties are finely designed by local architects and designers. “With our operating of the Quaint brand in Gozo, Hotelogique is acquiring a better

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understanding of how the Gozitan market operates and how diverse the island is. For many years, people in the tourism industry have been telling us that Gozo is a special destination. This description however is not a cosmetic one. It implies that the island, with its particular demographics and needs, demands a totally different strategy when promoting it not only from a commercial, and industrial perspective, but also for tourism purposes. Gozo, more than Malta, calls for the authentic to be respected and experienced and this will be the main strength of the Quaint brand,” adds Hotelogique cofounder and director Frankie Spiteri. Visitors who want to experience the unique Gozitan laid-back village life have the opportunity to do so without giving up on the amenities that are required by the modern tourist. In fact, Quaint’s properties present an interesting contrast between the traditional facade and setting and innovatively designed interiors. Rooms are individually designed with minimalist furniture and antique touches, yet they retain a hip and contemporary look. “These properties are strategically located in the heart of village squares. Therefore, our guests will be able to engage in the local lifestyle and make more discoveries by

visiting the baker, the band or football club, local attraction and eateries. We can safely say that with the Quaint brand, Hotelogique is effectively introducing boutique lifestyle hotels in Gozo,” concludes Farrugia.

“Gozo, more than Malta, calls for the authentic to be respected and experienced.”


Boutique Hotels

A PALAZZO FOR A PRINCE Photos: Charles Calleja

Désirée Azzopardi from D&ZT Interior Designers explains how the old basement of Palazzo Prince d’Orange in Valletta was transformed into a beautiful gym, massage room and sauna. The Palazzo Prince d’Orange is a wonderfully charming boutique hotel situated in St Paul Street, Valletta. At D&ZT we were delighted as well as honoured to be entrusted with the prestigious task of designing and managing the works for the latest addition to the palazzo: the basement level.


decision carried a lot of weight. We had two choices: we could either have carried on in the same classical style like the rest of the palazzo, or come up with something totally different yet complementary. We chose the latter direction.

We were originally approached with an open brief: to come up with ideas for an interesting use for the old basement of this old palazzo. From an indoor pool, steam room or wine cellar to a cigar room and events hall, the list of ideas was endless. However together with the hotel owner and management, we decided that a small gym and sauna would be the best facility for the palazzo’s guests.

A number of factors inspired our decision, including the location within the building itself, its purpose and function, the atmosphere and mood we wanted to bring to guests using the space, the psychological effect of the design on the guests, as well as its effect on generating more business. These were the main subjects that we discussed and that led to the final design we felt was best suited for the place.

Once we decided on the function of the space, the next set of decisions had to be taken: the style and atmosphere of the interior design and how it would work with the rest of the palazzo that was designed by a previous designer. This was left entirely in our hands. We took a lot into consideration before coming up with design proposals as we felt being entrusted with such a delicate

Being the most remote area of the whole palazzo, the basement was originally found in a damp state with no windows except for a small skylight that formed part of the palazzo’s central courtyard. The thick high walls gave it a feeling of a forgotten, uninhabited cellar. This is something that conflicted greatly with what we wanted to bring to the gym atmosphere. Health, the archetype paper

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The designer’s perspective freshness, energy and light were what we targeted to achieve through our proposal. At the same time, we wanted to retain that sense of chic grandeur that the palazzo is known for. We tackled this by designing large suspended lighting fixtures for the place from scratch. A palazzo fit for a king was not going to have ordinary light fixtures bought off the shelf. Instead we sketched and designed a beautiful intricate pattern and worked it into the ceiling as pendant lights to shine a fresh white light on the space. This type of light was required to help create a workout environment. The beauty in the fixture itself was intended to act as a feature in the ceiling and create a sense of delicate detail, breaking away from the austere eerie feeling the place originally had.

“A palazzo fit for a king was not going to have ordinary light fixtures ordered off the shelf.”

The architecture of the basement determined how the space was to be used. The innermost rooms were allocated to the sauna and massage room respectively. The rest of the space was dedicated to equipment and a workout area. With the gym being spread over two relatively small rooms, the opposing walls were lined with mirrors to showcase the room’s visual space and enhance the user experience at the gym.

to be coherent with the serene environment of a sauna. Among the various new design additions to the place, the furniture has the same paint codes and style used throughout the palazzo so as to retain continuity to some of the features familiar on the other levels of the hotel. As the palazzo only has five suites, we did not expect the gym to be used constantly: however we do expect it to serve its guests with instant comfort. As a result it was designed to be used with a key card system that allows guests to use their room card to check into the gym. Full light, music, sauna, and a ventilation system are instantly automated while the guest is in the room. To save on electricity, these are instantly switched off when the guest leaves the gym. Being entrusted with such a prestigious project was a great honour for us. We greatly appreciated the faith the owner had in us and in return we put our heart and soul in the project.

The massage room was designed to create a relaxing space where scented candles and soft music help the guests unwind. This room was not wired to the rest of the gym’s sound system for this reason. A frosted glass panel bearing the palazzo’s emblem shields the sauna from the rest of the gym. This small intimate spot is defined by a stark horizontal ribbon of black and white tiles running the length of the open room. Although intended as a feature to denote the chic lifestyle the palazzo promotes, the tiles were designed to run on a horizontal plane. This is the most calming of all angles and intended

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Boutique Hotels


Photos: Alan Carville

The designer’s perspective

We gave Casa Ellul the finishing touches it deserves, says Josette Schembri Vella, owner of Loft. Generally, boutique hotels do not have one particular style: rather, each independent hotel should strive to create its own individual style, thus keeping within the context of boutique. In Malta, this trend has recently come to the forefront of hotel design. Casa Ellul in Valletta is a primary example. The particular atmosphere or style that a business, in this case a hotel, wants to portray should be evident upon entering the space. As you approach and open the front gate of Casa Ellul you are immediately struck by the historic decorative elements original to the property that have been retained in the foyer. This instantly sets the mood, which is further reinforced by the geometric patterned marble floor. It is also enhanced by the architect’s choice of deep, dark grey tones that linger on throughout the entire space.

able to give Casa Ellul the feeling that was emitted by its walls: established, intimate, hospitable, timeless, and elegant. Loft used styling to further accentuate the individuality of the spaces within the hotel. The indoor courtyard, with its cozy environment courtesy of a modern fireplace, was further emphasised by using a fabric reminiscent of mid-century garden gates and trellises, to soften the authentic metal chairs purchased from a Parisian market. The addition of an indigenous plant in the space helped to reinforce the charm of the Maltese landscape. The modern concrete balconies of the additional suites were given an inviting ambiance through the use of contemporary yet unmistakable 1970s patterned fabrics used in the cushions. In the suite, which

business and budget. Style, distinction and intimacy are the key words in the architecture and design of boutique hotels, which seem to attract a niche of customers looking for a special and differentiated property that is able to fulfill their individual needs. Casa Ellul is a prime example of a boutique hotel: the property’s creativity is translated into the overall look and feel as well as the definition and expression of a theme. Many boutique hotels introduce different themes in each guestroom, making every single stay unique, even for their repeat guests. Casa Ellul has been able to portray differences in all of the eight suites with many repeat guests already rebooking in less than a year’s operation.

Chris Briffa, the Ellul brothers’ architect, suggested the services of Loft to give the hotel the finishing touches it deserves. Matthew and Andrew Ellul contracted Loft to style the hotel in order to give the space a soul that would not only be evident to the guests during their stay but more importantly to the guests before choosing to book. The styling and staging of the hotel for professional photography is most important for the continued success of any hotel establishment. The soul of the hotel, when captured correctly, would also be evident to potential guests when browsing through the thousands of possible bookings on line, not only for the hotel, but also for the destination. Setting the boutique mood should be about how interior designers interpret the atmosphere that is created by the hotel’s architect. Furthermore, for a boutique hotel, it should involve creating a distinct mood, keeping in mind the targets of the said establishment: luxury, uniqueness, style, warmth, individuality and possible themes, whatever it may be. Where quality is being specified from start to finish, it should be extended to even the smallest details within the space. Loft focuses on supplying unique products to the local market in order to continuously create distinctive spaces for their clients. Through their portfolio of exclusive brands for accessories, tableware, fabrics, wallpaper, lighting, small furnishings and more, Loft was the archetype paper

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overlooks the sea in the distance, blues were used to reflect the view. In the suites where there was an element of nature through the wood decking and hot tub cladding, more earthy tones were used to complement the chosen materials by the architect. In the centre of the contemporary suites, for the communal outdoor lounge, a selection of cushions in various colours and patterns were used to bring together the elements from within the suites’ external spaces, thus making this area a continuation of their private space. These details do not happen haphazardly. Rather, they are born of careful choices, informed analysis and well thought out possibilities. It is only thus that we can achieve the ultimate selection for the client,

As the competition grows fiercer not only locally but across the world, Malta must step up its game if we want to sustain a fair amount of high quality tourists. Internally our market is small but this does not guarantee that we can maintain enough business for all the so-called boutique hotels popping up overnight. In a small market – and a small footprint such as Malta – flooded with applications for boutique hotels, creativity is the most important tool to be able to sustain the success of such establishments. Investors need to dedicate an important part of their budget to professionals if they want to retain the standards and assured business within the sector.


Boutique Hotels

when th e lights go down in the


With its culture, charm and entertainment, sleeping and staying in the city is now an offer you cannot refuse, says Kris Fenech Soler from Trabuxu Boutique Living.

“Most visitors come to Valletta for culture, charm and the hospitality of the locals.� The man in the rooms Kris Fenech Soler began his career in advertising in 1996. A few years later, while helping his father run his restaurant in Valletta, he noticed that the city was lacking in evening entertainment venues. Always up for a challenge and with his charismatic personality and combined passion for good food, wine, service and company, Fenech Soler opened Trabuxu, one of Valletta’s first wine bars, in 2003. Success soon followed and the Trabuxu brand was born. In 2010, he and his wife Krista opened Trabuxu Bistro, a popular restaurant catering to the local business, tourist and legal fraternity during the day and everyone else in the evenings. In 2014, a major addition to the Trabuxu family was the opening of Trabuxu Boutique Living: a modern and stylish nine-roomed pensione in the lower end of the city. Fenech Soler spearheads numerous annual music and art events within Valletta, including Strada, an art street festival, and supports local artists and entrepreneurs.


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The designer’s perspective

What is a boutique hotel? It’s a term to describe small hotels in unique settings, usually capital cities or quaint country towns, with upscale accommodations. Trabuxu Boutique Living (TBL) is a pensione, which is similar to a boutique hotel – however we do not have a lot of the services and amenities provided for in most hotels.

What was the catalyst that made you want to invest in a boutique hotel? We had been looking to expand our business for a while and when the opportunity to invest in TBL arose we jumped at the chance. It complements our brand perfectly: boutique style, great personal service and attention to detail. With nine rooms, it’s ideal.

How does Trabuxu Boutique Living welcome you? The entrance is stunning and so unique: the hint of a view of the courtyard through the hallway and glass chandelier is breathtaking. the archetype paper

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Boutique Hotels


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The designer’s perspective

Does your personal taste correspond with the design of the hotel? Yes and no. Our quirky and eclectic personal taste complements TBL. However, the pensione is a little more avant garde. Besides that, each room is individually themed so it’s more in line with Malta’s style and history.

Why boutique living? Most visitors come to Valletta for culture, charm and the hospitality of the locals. You get that in spades so why would you stay in a hotel with 300 rooms where you’re simply a number? That type of accommodation works for many and that’s great. But more and more travellers want that personal touch, that familiarity, the home-away-from-home feel. Our concierge service is there to give people that personal service. We will be there at one in the morning when you need to check in – it’s not a 24 hour service - we are there specifically for you.

What makes your hotel a destination within itself? Guests at TBL consider it the perfect place to unwind after a day’s exploring either the magical city of Valletta or other parts of the island. Each room has its own shower/ toilet facilities, there are TVs in each room, coffee/tea machines available, individually adjustable air-con/heating. We also have two suites with a kitchenette and fridge so you can prepare your own meals. The loft has its own personal street access and with a kitchenette and living room, it’s like an inner city apartment. There’s the private courtyard which is peaceful in the afternoons so it’s an ideal place to read a book or do some writing. And there are numerous little table and chair options on each floor to enjoy the weather.

What would you like clients who come to the hotel to experience or remember? They’ll definitely remember the personalised service and our attention to detail. We want them to experience everything that Valletta has to offer so we go above and beyond to make sure that happens.

What are your thoughts on the future of boutique hotels? I think this industry is thriving and will only get bigger: we’ve seen it already in the last two years in Valletta.

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The designer’s perspective



Boutique hotels converse with their surroundings, says Chris Briffa as he gives his architect’s perspective.

How does a boutique hotel Can you discuss the stand out in a crowded balance of architecture, industry? interiors and styling in your work? It also depends on the designer’s skills and experience. The key distinctive element for any boutique hotel is the design experience it offers.

How would you describe the basic idea behind a boutique hotel? A boutique hotel is a different experience from the conventional commercial hotels we are accustomed to. Unfortunately hotels have been reduced to have and have nots. What was originally designed to help the guest has eventually turned out to be counter-productive. A boutique hotel is an unusual experience tied to the location of the hotel or the elements within the hotel. Moreover, a boutique hotel gives you the unique opportunity to go back home and have something to write about. At the core of a boutique hotel is the designer and the way the main theme of the hotel is created within the context of the environment it is set in. Indeed, Philippe Starck who is regarded as the father of what we today define as boutique hotels, has reinvented the travel experience thanks to his genial mind.


Every project I embark on is the product of a number of people. The critical factor lies in balancing the input from every individual to achieve the final product.

In a recent interview, architect Charles Boccara What’s your favourite part highlighted his preference of any boutique hotel? for the term “guest house” There is not really one specific space. In rather than “hotel”. To what terms of suite, I would probably opt for Suite 5 of Casa Ellul. If I want to hang out, I would extent do you agree? I believe it very much depends on the environment in which a boutique hotel is set. The Marrakech setting in which Boccara’s works are set is intolerant to the word “hotel”. The term “Riyadh” would probably be more appropriate for his boutique hotels. In my latest boutique hotel project, Casa Ellul, I recommended to the owners to use the term “casa” which is very much in line with the local context.

How do local boutique hotels distinguish themselves from foreign counterparts? The context plays a critical role. The feeling of being in a Valletta house with all the characteristics our capital city offers is a unique experience you will never find in any other country. Every house contributes to such an experience. If we look at Casa Ellul, the idea of living in an 1850s house seems to take you back in time.

probably spend my time in the courtyard.

What elements most influence your current designs? It is a pretty expansive question. I would say it is very much related to our subconscious. An idea may come from an art gallery or from a foreign experience. My recent experience at the Chapel of Silence in Helsinki has possibly inspired my design of a bathroom. I certainly do not give much importance to what I read and see online or in the press.

Any advice for prospective investors? Before you embark on such a project go and live the experience of a boutique hotel. Try to go through all the details of what you experience.

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A WORKSHOP OF IDEAS Every brand at Banju Boutique has a story to tell.

Traditional retail marketing has been turned on its ear by the new Banju Boutique store. Situated on the periphery of Msida, the outlet is a seamless fusion of affordable luxury with innovation, style and comfort.

eradicate the misconception that Banju Boutique is all about bathrooms. Indeed, Banju Boutique Msida is a living workshop of ideas and a catalogue of unique concepts ideal for all parts of your living space.

The design and outlay of the showroom gives a unique sense of warmth and tranquillity to stimulate each customer’s creativity. The outlet stresses on the personal feeling. Indeed, Camilleriparismode projects and design team ensured the showroom space resembles the interior of a home rather than a typically cold showroom. Each room is designed in an individual style by the projects team using Banju Boutique tiles, ceramics

The outlet is all about bringing ideas together. The design of each piece is highlighted as an individual object as well as part of a larger context.

and accessories. They are planned out to resemble a fully functional bathroom, with some of them having doors. The latter play a key role in offering a feeling of your own personal space which helps customers choose the right bathroom. Nevertheless, the new outlet aims to definitely the archetype paper

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“In this light, the concepts available at our outlet are an added value to your living space,” says Lorraine Bianco, who runs Banju Boutique. “A bathroom, kitchen and any living space in your home should not just be individual, static components. Instead, they should contain an element of style and appeal that reflects who you are. Each product is a piece of art that gives colour and an artistic imprint to every corner of your home. They also make your living experience more practical, comfortable and pleasant.” The brands available at Banju Boutique Msida are distinct and selected meticulously to ensure a unique imprint to any home. Inalco Slimker tiles 3mm thick, Hydre glass and metal brick mosaic, Hansa German quality mixers, and the exclusive Kartel by Laufen collection are a few of the distinct concepts available at Banju Boutique Msida. Every brand available at Banju Boutique Msida has

a story to tell in terms of detail and quality. It is not just about a mixer or a bathtub. Every item is supported with history of quality, reliability and excellence. Every customer is ensured a value for money product. The concept store offers a truly eclectic mix of ideas inspired by the vast select of items available and complemented with a team of experts that ensure a customised approach towards your project and ensures we speak the same language of architects and engineers.


Boutique Hotels


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Laufen bathroom solutions help create luxury bohemia in the heart of Copenhagen Located in the Latin Quarter of Copenhagen, the newly refurbished bathrooms in the exclusive 4+ Hotel SP34 feature Laufen sanitaryware, helping it appeal to a ‘luxury bohemian’ clientele. Hotel SP34, part of the Brøchner Hotels chain, has been designed to reflect the physical environment and atmosphere of Copenhagen’s Latin Quarter, with an air of luxury and quality throughout.

Formerly known as Hotel Fox, the accommodation has been expanded into two adjacent townhouses, to include 118 rooms and penthouse suites with skylight bathrooms and balconies with a panorama of the Danish capital. Designed by Morten Hedegaard, a total of 65 rooms have been refurbished, with the bathrooms in each all featuring Laufen products. In keeping with the boutique hotel’s theme of contemporary living, one of the centre-pieces of the bathrooms is the Living City washbasin from Laufen, while some of the rooms have also been fitted with the Swiss manufacturer’s Laufen Pro bathtub. With hygiene and ease of cleaning essential for hotels, Laufen Pro rimless WC was chosen for inclusion in each of the newly refurbished guest bathrooms. Offering the perfect complement style-wise to the Living City basin and Pro bathtub, the Pro rimless WC not only looks the part, but also features innovative flushing technology that prevents the build-up of germs and odour.

With no flushing rim, the water reaches every part of the inner basin and gives germs and bacteria no chance to get established. Offering the highest ever standards of hygiene, the Laufen Pro rimless WC is quick and easy to clean, making it the ideal choice for Hotel SP34, where cleaning times need to be quick and a high degree of hygiene is guaranteed. Commenting on the specification of Laufen products for Copenhagen’s Hotel SP34, Managing Director of Brøchner Hotels, Karim Nielsen said: “We wanted to create a boutique hotel that would appeal to quality conscious guests from Denmark and abroad. We were looking for a different, fresh brand that reflected this image and we found this with Laufen.” Laufen Nordic Managing Director Soren Hougaard commented: “Hotel bathrooms should be comfortable and luxurious for guests, yet they also need to be practical spaces that are easy to keep clean. By choosing Laufen products for each of its refurbished rooms, Hotel SP34 can rest assured that guests will feel pampered throughout the stay.”

Laufen supplies bathroom solutions for commercial projects around the world and are passionate about bringing the very highest user satisfaction for clients, and ultimately, their guests. This is through an open partnership approach with the highest level of professionalism, through logistics and project management. The Laufen Bathrooms AG is a Swiss company specialising in high end complete bathroom solutions. Laufen’s head offices are located just outside Basel. Established in 1892, it operates internationally manufacturing bathroom ceramics and faucets and distributes furniture, accessories for the bathroom and bathtubs. Laufen employs a workforce of 1,800 with seven factories located in Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic and produces 3 million ceramic items per year. It boasts collaborations with important partners like the design companies Kartell and Alessi and internationally well-known designers such as ps+a/Ludovica and Roberto Palomba (Palomba Collection, Kartell by Laufen), Stefano Giovannoni (ILBAGNOALESSI One), Wiel Arets (ILBAGNOALESSI dOt), Hartmut Esslinger/Frog Design, Platinum Design, Phoenix Design and Vetica Design. For details on the complete range of bathroom solutions available from Laufen visit

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your business ability, our financial support Whatever the size or nature of your business, we know that running a successful enterprise takes ability. That’s why we offer the best support on the Maltese Islands – a personalised banking service which will take you as far as your business can grow. Talk to us today to see how we can help.

your success is our goal


Terms and conditions apply.

2131 2020 I

Issued by Bank of Valletta p.l.c., 58, Triq San Żakkarija, il-Belt Valletta VLT 1130

Business Campaign new branding_Apr 15.indd 1

27/04/2015 10:06:41


Financing Boutique Hotels in Malta

Boutique hotels seem to be the current hot topic in the hotel industry. Their charm for the modern tourist, particularly when visiting old cities across Europe, lies in the intimate, interesting and idiosyncratic experience they offer the traveller. In Malta we are also experiencing a surge in this type of accommodation, particularly in Valletta. Albert Frendo, Chief Officer Corporate Finance, Bank of Valletta discusses the financing hurdle this niche segment represents. Boutique hotels have been with us for a number of years. Lately, however, there has been a marked surge in interest and activity especially in Valletta. The reason for such interest is obvious. With its charm, history and size, Valletta ticks all the right boxes for this type of investment. Yet as seasoned investors can tell, that is only one part of the story. It takes far more ingredients to ensure a successful recipe. Typically boutique hotels are independent, individually branded (as opposed to franchised), mid- and high-end properties that generally have up to 15 rooms. While it is always difficult to bucket individualistic ventures, there appears to be two categories of boutique hotels. At one end of the spectrum are the high-end five-star boutique hotels that represent an experience in their own right. At the other end are the lower priced hotels for the average budget that blend in with the quaintness of the locality. Generally the latter are family-owned and run and have their own individual story to tell; a story that complements the city’s atmosphere. In between these two ends is a whole spectrum of boutique hotels that adopt different, sometimes opposing strategies, even when they target the same niche market. In the case of business travellers, you can find boutique hotels that are practically self-catering, whereas others offer them perks aimed at helping them unwind and have an enjoyable stay. Rather than focusing on attracting new customers, such hotels tend to focus on repeat business. From a financing perspective, these types of hotels represent the same challenges that affect all players in the hotelier business. Customers are, generally speaking, the archetype paper

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becoming increasingly less predictable. More people are resorting to the internet to book accommodation overseas which results in homogenisation of the hotel product. Another factor that must be taken into account is that customers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding. Concurrently, operating expenses particularly those relating to utilities, insurance, payroll and amenities keep on escalating.

Sound management is crucial for the success of any venture undertaking. This is even more so in these types of undertakings where the elbow space to err is very restricted and the implications could be highly material. Hence, Bank of Valletta seeks insights on management’s experience, strategic orientation, marketing and sales abilities, operational capabilities and governance in general.

In addition to these hurdles, boutique hotels face challenges that are specific to their particular nature. For instance, the issue of seasonality becomes accentuated due to the limited number of rooms available. This means that the higher the fixed costs, the longer it takes for payback on investment to materialise. Thus, management needs to plan its strategy carefully in order to juggle between offering an adequate level of service and charging the right price, particularly since profits and losses are spread across fewer units.

“The higher the fixed costs, the longer it takes for payback on investment to materialise.”

In order to survive, small boutique hotels tend to make heavy use of technology in order to optimise staffing levels and adopt tools like mobile electronic devices that enable them to make changes for maximum productivity and savings. Sometimes, management even considers outsourcing whole chunks of the business like catering and laundry. In this manner, costs that are generally fixed become variable and fluctuate according to the bed nights, making the hotel more viable. The surge in investment in boutique hotels is quite dramatic. In fact today there are already 11 such hotels set up in Valletta alone, with another 15 awaiting a permit. This may indicate that a particular niche market is being targeted, primarily those travellers that are keen to appreciate the culture of our islands and truly immerse themselves in its character. At Bank of Valletta, we believe that the boutique hotel model can complement and enrich the tourist industry infrastructure and has the potential to grow and flourish in Malta, as long as good business fundamentals are respected and leveraged upon. We consider several variables when financing such projects. Featuring prominently on the list are the management behind such venture, the cost and funding structure as well as the marketing and location of the proposed hotel.

The importance of a thorough understanding of the cost structure dynamics cannot be overemphasised. It is crucial to ensure the viability of boutique hotels ranging from establishing a viable cost per room to developing and finishing such investments, along with striking the right cost efficiencies in day-to-day operations. If from the outset, it is already evident that costs are too high compared to the targeted room rate (when compared to market realities and allowing for seasonality and sector dips), then it is a forgone conclusion that the probability of failure is higher than average. Financial leverage is also a factor that cannot be discounted. High leverage can easily wipe the project’s gross operating profit while putting pressures on the company’s liquidity and solvency. It is thus essential that developers study the proposal well and arm themselves with facts, feasibility studies and market research to be fully convinced that the proposal will ultimately stand the test of time and will enhance their wealth in the process. Opting for boutique hotel needs deep conviction and analysis. Thus it definitely cannot be embarked upon merely to follow the trend, but rather as a specialised arm of hotel management. The sustainability of the recent surge in boutique hotels still needs to pass the test of time and undoubtedly we will have both success stories and failures in the years to come. There will surely be common traits that distinguish the successful ones. Sound management, good financial structure, focused and targeted marketing initiatives and effective and efficient cost management strategies will definitely be key ingredients for a successful recipe.


Give a Touch of Art to your commercial space

• Framing Services • Printing Services • Wallpaper & Mural • Art on Glass • Glass Manifestation • Print on Wood • Oil & Group Art Painting • Consult, Design, Manufacture, Install



When art checks in There is room for art in boutique hotels, says George Mifsud from Claret & Gold.

How would you define a boutique hotel? By its very nature, a boutique hotel resists any attempt at definition. This is because primarily, any definition is very much based on personal experience and is therefore subjective. I believe a boutique hotel can be summed up as an intimate, unique, often luxurious and upscale hotel environment for discerning guests. The three key defining features of a boutique hotel are culture, history, and authenticity. These features create a sense of discovery, curiosity and intrigue thanks to a layout that can be charming, distinctive, quirky, cutting-edge, trendy, cool, classic and revel in an incredible attention to detail and high level of personal service. I believe Malta offers a unique environment for boutique hotels as it brings together all the key elements that favour the ideal set-up for such hotels. Moreover, the blend between contemporary living and historical experience is a very interesting and exciting atmosphere for all boutique hotel lovers.

What can art give to a boutique hotel? It is said that art is not static – rather, it is the outward expression of an inner life that we all have and which develops our personal vision of the world. Indeed, art is an explosion of colours and ideas that gives life to a boutique hotel. Every corner of a hotel is an opportunity for art to highlight the moods, character and features of a boutique hotel, making it a unique experience for every guest. Art is part of the decor. It is one of the finishing touches that bring the space to life. Art is chosen for the relevance of the room for which it is selected. It may be stronger for public areas and more restful in the bedrooms, and simple or numerous in the bathroom. Irrespective of which living space art finds its place in, it is that pinch of spice that brings together all components that make a boutique hotel a special place to spend your time in. the archetype paper

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How can boutique hotel guests have access to an authentic experience through art?

as a catalogue of exclusive concepts that ensures our clients’ individual tastes match with high quality and distinct solutions. With decades of experience, our team offers high creativity and quality support in line with each of our clients’ tastes and expectations

It is not just about hanging a painting in a room. Every painting needs to be chosen specifically for the story it tells and the critical role it plays in bringing all the components of a space together. Every painting is a book that tells a story about the building itself, the people behind the boutique hotel and the hotel’s surroundings. A painting is a short film about the culture, story and daily life in which the boutique hotel is set. Every room is a character that needs to find chemistry with its guests. There must be a commonality in characters, moods and tastes to ensure the guests’ ultimate happy experience.

Can you take us through your catalogue of ideas?

How can boutique hotels serve as a platform for prospective artists?

We are proud to announce that Claret & Gold has recently been appointed as the exclusive agent of Larson Juhl, an internationally renowned brand synonymous with quality, experience, and reliability.

I see boutique hotels as a workshop of elements, ideas and characters where people come together to create a unique experience for every client. The growth and development of the boutique hotel industry is very much dependent on the input from new generations. The industry needs constant fresh ideas so as to ensure proliferation of the boutique hotel concept. It is imperative that hoteliers invest in students currently following courses in art, design, architecture and other related areas. Boutique hotels should be an art gallery for prospective artists. New boutique hotels should have the imprint of prospective architects and the inner and outer setup should bring together the brains of prospective designers. Boutique hotels must work closer with universities and other educational institutions so as to bridge their path to the professional world.

What is Claret & Gold? Claret & Gold is a distinct brand that brings a tweak of affordable luxury combined with colour, style and character to every domestic or corporate space. It may be summed up

Claret & Gold services range from licensed reproductions of international art to acid free white core mount board cut to perfection including artistic designs by our CNC computerised mount cutter. At the heart of every Claret & Gold project there is a sustainable soul. The brands available under the Claret & Gold brand are distinct and selected meticulously to ensure a unique imprint to every living space.

There are a lot of ideas that you can use to showcase art in a boutique hotel. For instance, you can use feature walls with murals on the bed head with hidden light to add drama to the image. Using a state of the art printing process we can transform any old and modern paintings into a wall mural. We can also transfer paintings by local artists.

What do you have in store for the coming years? We have recently celebrated our third decade in the sector. Our past is the starting point for a future where we want to take a leading role in the business-to-business industry. This would enable us to offer fresh and innovative ideas to hotels, commercial spaces and other business entities. In order to achieve such a goal, Claret & Gold is a work in progress workshop that will keep evolving over the years to come. At the heart of our project we have set genuine high quality tailor-made products proudly made in Malta by Maltese craftsman.


Boutique Hotels

A fresh supply

Investing in a reverse osmosis helps you save money while being kinder to the environment, says Karl Vassallo from A&A Mizzi Limited. Do you have problems storing bulky water containers or plastic bottles in your home or office? Are you throwing away plastic bottles regularly? Plastic bottles are not sustainable. When you stop using disposable bottled water, you save money, live healthier, and join a movement for global sustainability. A reverse osmosis system is one clever way of overcoming these problems. A reverse osmosis system provides unlimited amounts of water straight from your tap. The Canford under sink reverse osmosis is a five-stage water purifying system and comes with a 15-litre plastic kemflo storage tank that fills in just over one hour. The heavy duty pump carries a five-year warranty. Besides a compact under sink unit, A&A Mizzi Limited also offers other models and capacities even for semi-commercial use and locations where larger amounts of purified water are required. Canford reverse osmosis helps provide unlimited quantities of water - this means making plastic bottles a thing of the past and doing our bit for the environment. Last but certainly not least the installation of a reverse osmosis system in your home or office will help provide you with more water at a small price.

Be Sure. Be Kryton. Visit Kryton International Inc. provides the most effective concrete waterproofing systems in the world. With over 40 years of experience, 50 distributors worldwide, and more than 10,000 successful waterproofing projects, Kryton is the expert that mitigates the risk in concrete waterproofing. As the inventors of the crystalline waterproofing admixture, Kryton has been waterproofing concrete since 1973 with the most complete system that has undergone the most testing and received more approvals than any other. Kryton is the leader in manufacturing and distributing products for waterproofing, repairing and protecting concrete structures. Whether you are an engineer, architect, property developer or general contractor, Kryton helps industry professionals solve the most difficult concrete waterproofing challenges by providing innovative, time-tested solutions, backed by service and support that are second to none. Kryton products provide cost and labour savings that help you stay on budget, on schedule for the most innovative designs. Using our proven Krystol速 technology, Kryton offers admixture solutions, surface-applied treatments, repair and maintenance products, joint waterproofing protection and water repellent sealer. To learn about Kryton products visit or email


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No fiddling on the roof

Antoine Bonello from The Resin and Membrane Centre suggests an effective waterproofing solution. direct sunlight. They also tend to break from the sealed seams when subjected to concrete movements.

A good waterproofing system costs less than one per cent of the property value, yet damages from water leaks are responsible for 80 per cent of building repairs. There are various types of waterproofing on the market, but which is the right one for our climate? Nowadays, resin membranes are growing in popularity, offering advantages over previously traditional systems. In Malta the traditional bitumen carpet membrane is still considered a solution to waterproof our roofs. These products are mainly dark in colour, made from bitumen and covered with gravel. Soon after its application this material starts to harden, loose cohesion and harm the environment due to the evaporation of oils caused by

Another important effect is the transmission of heat inside buildings due to their colour and properties, elevating considerably the room temperature and creating a hot and humid environment. This occurrence will inevitably result in making more use of air conditioners and an increase in electricity consumption. In our hot country these products are mostly recommended for use in foundations and in places where there is no direct sunlight. In today’s world technology moves at a very rapid pace with materials being continuously developed and modified to meet today’s exigencies. Resins and polyurethane membranes are proving to be the future: they are designed to meet our harsh hot summer and sudden climate change. Their application is simply by roller, brush or sprayed and can be applied easily in corners and obstructed areas. The final result is completely seamless, elastic, resistant to heavy traffic, can withstand direct bonding of tiles if desired

and guaranteed to last for years due to their resistance to UV rays. They are light in weight compared to other materials and can become stronger when they are reinforced with fibreglass type matt 225. Resin and polyurethane membranes also help to reduce heat intake due to their ability to reflect natural radiation and low heat absorption properties. A new thermal resin liquid membrane has now been launched on the market with elevated thermal and reflective properties and able to increase solar panels efficiency and intake. A leading producer of these products is NAICI, where they are made with pride in Italy.


The Resin and Membrane Centre Professional Waterproofing Solutions, Resin Floors Stay cool this summer and increase your solar panels intake with a professional THERMAL resin waterproofing liquid membrane 15 year guarantee.

The Resin and Membrane Centre 264, Old Railway Track, Sta Venera t. 2747 7647 the archetype paper

Issue No. 6


Boutique Hotels


Switch it on

Orluna gives light like no other. Downlighting that measures up Orluna is one of Britain’s leading manufacturers of LED downlights. This is why today more than 80 per cent of the top 100 UK lighting designers regularly use Orluna’s UK-made products. Designers choose Orluna predominantly because the LED downlights are perfect for hotel, restaurant and domestic interiors, they are delightfully discreet (with an inconspicuous 50mm aperture), and their colour is utterly consistent, up to four times that of other products. In addition, the modularity of the Orluna LED light engines means that they fit in an entire range of beautifully designed bezels, resulting in an infinite choice of designs and configurations. Most noticeable is the magical effect that the Orluna LED downlights produce. The combination of the prismatic lens and unique patented mixing chamber creates a sparkle identical to dichroic lamps. Colours, especially reds, appear richer, while reflective surfaces become radiant.


suites. This extreme reliability is the result of the many incremental improvements that have been built into the product that come together to create something special. Dichroic sparkle mixing chamber Orluna is one of the very few manufacturers to build its own custom designed patent pending mixing chamber. Paired with a glass prismatic lens it creates light with the colour consistency of diffused remote phosphor technology, combined with the richness of halogen lights. Size The mini range is wonderfully compact. And because it uses the proven QUAD50 and QUAD70 light modules it sacrifices nothing in terms of performance. Modularity All products are guaranteed to work perfectly with each other, so problems associated with integrating products from multiple manufacturers are inexistent.

Light unlimited Product design is where Orluna’s mantra of ‘expertly focused’ comes into its own. By keeping things simple, manufacturing in the UK, doing one thing at a time and doing it incredibly well, Orluna takes the stress out of specifying.

Better by design Innovation means expertly focusing on one issue at a time to find the best possible solution. The results speak for themselves. For instance, Orluna’s patented quadroptic reflector, combined with multipoint LED’s, generates a genuinely blended beam of light with a sparkling texture that brings interiors to life.

Light engine The QUAD50 light engines have been running 24 hours a day for eight years in a number of British Airways business class

Orluna is the only major UK lighting company to offer genuine 1/16th binning, which means that any colour variation in the LEDs falls well below the level a human eye can detect.

Orluna is also the only company to offer guaranteed mains dimming. The technical development team couldn’t find a mains rotary dimmer insert that worked every time, so they created their own and checked the performance of each unit themselves. Orluna also offers a true 10 degrees LED thanks to a lens that was sourced from a German medical supplier, and Orluna’s revolutionary new patent pending fire plates are far easier for contractors to install than the cumbersome bag system they replace. Orluna has its own patented and unique fire-plate system, which allows fire-rating yet maintains heat dissipation properties. At your service Having a superb product is only half the story. Orluna also supports customers with a level of service that’s second to none. This commitment means that Orluna helps lighting designers and specifiers do their job without having to worry about colour variation, dodgy dimmers, integration issues and compatibility calamities. In short, Orluna is here to make customers’ lives easier by demystifying the whole purchasing process, from quick and easy spec-ing to installations where everything works perfectly first time, every time.

For details on the complete range of lighting visit or contact Hydrolectric on 2124 1111 the archetype paper

Issue No. 6


The sun is one of the main sources of energy and most of us love lounging in the sun. It brightens us up, it makes us live life to the full. But too much direct sunlight is not good for us.


Calypso lets you enjoy the sun by putting you in the shade. Calypso Manufacturing has a solution and size for anything under the sun, from canopies to umbrellas, using the best materials available.


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