On the surface, such a statement seems clear enough. But when uttered by Michael Kaune, the visionary Original behind Cologne’s 34-room standout hotel The Qvest, one immediately wonders just what the “it” refers to. Does he mean his successful early career in advertising, which quickly lead to his opening his own agency at an age when most of his peers were still cutting their teeth in junior positions? Does it refer to his bold and creative guidance of Qvest, the go-to German magazine covering international fashion, design, architecture, and art?
Could it be his renowned gallery of contemporary photography? Or perhaps the “it” in question is The Qvest hotel itself, which seems to take the best of all Kaune’s earlier triumphs and presents them in one stunning art-filled, design-driven neo-Gothic package. If the hotel is the current endpoint on a road that began for Kaune in art school, then an important inspirational stop along the way was The Paramount, Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck’s time capsule of late-20th century chic. “In the early 1990s I was traveling for a job in New York and I discovered The Paramount,” Kaune explains. “I had never experienced such a hotel before, and from then on whenever I traveled I sought out hotels that were devoted to design and art. I’d say I stayed in more than 500 such properties before opening my own hotel.”
The Qvest became, for Kaune, his own entry into design-motivated hospitality. It also became a repository for a lifetime’s collection of furniture, contemporary art, and photography that would be as much at home in a museum as in The Qvest. Many of the works in the hotel had been in storage for some time,” Kaune explains. “But thanks to The Qvest they could now be showcased in one place. This is something I was tremendously excited about because, for me, environment creates perspective. It connects people, more or less unconsciously, but as can be seen at The Qvest, quite effectively.”
For a man who spent so much time in high-profile design cities such as New York and Miami, the question “Why Cologne?” can’t help but come to mind. It’s certainly a question Kaune himself understands well, even if his hotel is set in the very neighborhood where he grew up. “When people step into the hotel I hear them say, ‘Am I really in Cologne?’’ But I take this as a great compliment. And to friends who say ‘Are you insane?’ I explain that Cologne is an important European metropolis. The city is very well laid out, with great museums. You can do a lot of walking, and it is extremely livable, with people who are very helpful and open-minded.” Then, perhaps thinking of The Qvest, he humbly suggests, “Such a city deserves beautiful places!”
At The Qvest, beauty clearly abounds. And it stems from one man’s lifetime devotion to creative expression. “Almost everything in the hotel is connected to me personally,” Kaune notes. And then, gazing at his grand creation, he summons a perfectly apt thought originally uttered by Charles Eames: “The details are not the details. They make the design.”