In the Old Town of Edinburgh there was a very small piece of ground that had been empty for more than 50 years—a central spot that was neglected and “ugly”, right in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage environment. For more than five decades, no one felt up to the challenge of building something in such a location. Nobody except Christa van Camp and Colin Finnegan, that is.
Christa van Camp: The location is the element we all took inspiration from. The hotel is on the border of Old Town, close to the North Bridge, which leads to the New Town. Nor Loch dried up centuries ago, so it was a bridge without water. This inspired a philosophy around the notion of “connection”—connection between history and modern design, to what’s local, and between people.
Colin Finnegan: In my early years I believed the world was big, but I now realize that it is very small and very connected.
CF: My idols are the ancient Egyptians. If you can design buildings and leave them for 5,000 years and they’re still among the most spectacular in the world, then that’s an amazing achievement. I’m also influenced by the early 20th-century art movement De Stijl, thanks to visionaries such as Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondriaan and their search for balance and proportion.
CvC: The city itself provided ample inspiration. The beauty of it, the ancient parts, the pride of the Scots, and the Gaelic language. In the hotel we exhibit what we call the Scottish icons. The ones never to be forgotten, the ones that tell a story. In guestrooms, we play the music from a Gaelic female singer. When guests arrive, they are immediately connected to the heritage of the city.
CF: A chef or an interior designer. Fortunately, I chose interior design. I found out later that I’m a terrible cook.
CF: I would say something by Julie Fowlis, the Scottish Gaelic folksinger. It is so fantastic to hear someone singing a language that just 60,000 speak.
CF: Is gold a color or a lifestyle?