By Belle White | Photos Provided by Hotel Zed Tofino
Why not create a nook right in the lobby for a fortune teller? Why not have a bike path that runs through the lobby? Why not add a hidden arcade?
These were just a few of the creative ideas that ran through Mandy Farmer’s head as she brainstormed the design for Hotel Zed Tofino. The Hotel Zed properties are known to be ‘ridiculously fun’ when it comes to their colour palette, retro interior design, and customer experience. As the CEO and President, Farmer played a key role in creating the chain’s new location in Tofino, B.C. with design firm Kimberly Williams Design.
“With Tofino, I had the opportunity to take this retro-chic concept to the next level because we were building from scratch. We dug deep into the 70’s with shag carpets, sunken living rooms, wood paneling and all of those rich greens and oranges of the 70’s,” says Farmer. “I had so much fun thrifting decor and furniture pieces from all over Vancouver Island or Etsy sellers across Canada.”
The Interior Designers
The design firm that brought Hotel Zed Tofino to life is the Brentwood Bay-based firm Kimberly Williams Interiors with Designers Kimberly Williams and Elaine Martel. The team has been involved with the Hotel Zed chain since it’s inception.
“We love working with Mandy and her team,” says Martel. “For Mandy there is no idea that is too crazy. We all get to ping pong ideas and concepts off each other, which results in some really lively spaces!”
It started with 8 people (the owner, designers, architects and construction team) taking one van on a site visit to view the location. “It became a design charrette of sorts, with each person tossing around a crazier concept than the last,” explains Martel.
Next the design team asked the entire Zed team what they thought the Tofino Hotel needed. “We asked about a million questions – from facilities managers to marketing experts, to curate a really dimensional concept of needs, functions, wants and crazy concepts,” says Martel.
Design Elements to Look for at Hotel Zed Tofino
The Sunken Living Room
The sunken living room is the hub for gatherings and lounging; with smaller communal spaces like the retro office, disco and psychics lounge opening out onto that inviting space.
Look Around (and Above) You
Look all around; up and down – there is no boring surface in this hotel, there is no white, no beige, no grey – every plane has been designed, conceived and detailed to be part of the Zed experience. There are fun details to discover in every room so look closely at every surface.
Every Small Detail is 70s
The materials and finishes throughout were curated to really enhance that 70’s swank and to be experienced visually but also tactically. The hotel is abundant in patterns and textures, colours, and vintage accents to really feel like a walk back in time.
The Final Product
The Hotel Zed Tofino project was completed through the first months of the COVID-19 lockdown, and Martel explained that although the pandemic presented many challenges, seeing happy clients makes them very proud of the completed project.
“Sitting in the sunken living room on set up day and hearing all the hotel staff and team commenting on the space – that’s what makes it worthwhile,” says Martel. “Overhearing people attribute personal stories to all the retro knick knacks makes you feel like you’ve created a space that evokes a connection, and there’s nothing better!”
Farmer agrees. “When you walk into Hotel Zed Tofino, it’s so authentic it’s almost familiar,” she explains. “It’s kind of like stepping back in time to your favourite, coolest aunt’s living room…until you see a cyclist going through the room, that is.”
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