Artscape Lobby and The Tea Lounge Acclaimed international hospitality designer and conceptual artist Henry Chebaane has created what might be a world’s first: a public space, formed by reception area and lobby cafe, that looks and feels like a giant immersive art gallery but performs and functions like a hotel lobby. To create an experience for the hotel guest which is deeply rooted in a sense of place, the public space is a representation of the region, its culture and nature. For the lobby, the main source of inspiration was the old Persian name of the city Baku (the “wind-pounded city”) and the surrounding Absheron peninsula (“place of salty waters”) as well as the rich nature of the nearby Caucasus mountains, where the Walnut tree is one of the dominant species. These natural elements wind, water, salt and wood were then combined with local history and culture of the country and subsequently transformed from abstract elements into conceptual and physical design and art installations. The adjacent TEA LOUNGE has been designed to express the duality between heritage and innovation, permanence and transition. Conceived like a luxurious “chaikhana” (the traditional Central Asian tea house) for modern nomads, the space is articulated with clusters of loose seating and eclectic furniture to evoke a virtual “caravansarai”, offering guests the choice of individual relaxation and cocooning or group entertainment and socialising. The ‘camp’ is anchored by a central tea studio, where the various rituals of tea-making are enacted live. The tea altar is an elevated theatre stage with a monolithic slab from where boiling water on tap is poured freely to rinse pots and infuse leaves. The contact of hot water and stone slab, creates plumes of steam reminiscent of early mountain fog on the slopes of tea plantations.