RETREAT AT BLUE LAGOON ICELAND
Since its foundation in 1996, Blue Lagoon has become one of the most popular, iconic travel destinations in the world. Named one of the wonders of the world by National Geographic, the company wanted to create a more intimate, exclusive way to experience the lagoon’s unique waters. They trusted their long-time partners, us and the Icelandic Basalt Architects with the challenge of creating a nature destination.
Built directly into an 800-year-old lava flow in the heart of the Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark, the Retreat encompasses a subterranean spa, geothermal lagoon, a restaurant that reimagines Iceland’s culinary traditions, and a 62-suite luxury hotel encircled by the Blue Lagoon’s mineral-rich waters.
Working in close, multidisciplinary collaboration throughout the project, we designed the experience, the interiors with the collaboration of Basalt Architects. We also took care of the overall design strategy, style direction, branding, graphic design and signage and product design, partnering with B&B Italia, Axor, iGuzzini, EFLA and Liska. The result is a destination where the seamless interplay of lava, moss, and water is woven into every facet of the guest journey.
Starting with a user-centered design strategy with customer journeys and stakeholder mapping, we defined the experience we wanted to create for our future guests. We wanted to craft a home away from home in the Icelandic nature, a place where people could retreat from their saturated everyday lives and feel connected to nature. It offers a soothing, calming and luxurious overall experience for the guests, warmth as a contradiction to the surrounding landscapes and a reassuring atmosphere, a sense of being cocooned.
Our user-centered approach helped us stay consistent throughout the entire 3-year-long process, from the experience all the way to colors, materials, services and graphics and furniture.
Surrounded by water in the same way that a moat surrounds a castle, the suites at the Retreat are both within the lava and above the lava, straddling the divide between water, earth, moss, and sky.
Inspired by the landscape, the interiors feature tone-to-tone colors, simple shapes, and extreme attention to detail, creating an atmosphere of refined luxury. Warm walnut woods are juxtaposed with various concrete, rock, and lava surfaces to establish an authentic, inviting atmosphere. The subtle profusion of raw, tactile, and natural materials, orchestrated in a simple, linear style, produces a realm of deep comfort.
The color palette governing all chromatic design decisions was meticulously chosen for the manner that it highlights and echoes the volcanic vista, conjuring harmony with the water, land, weather, and light: the whiteness of salt, silica, and snow; the blacks, grays, and oxidized reds of lava; the blues of geothermal seawater; and the browns and greens of the moss and other fauna.
Here and there, the interiors feature twists, unexpected details that enliven the space, provoking wonder and establishing a connection to contemporary movements. The resulting style is timeless and sophisticated—a previously unseen incarnation of Icelandic luxury rooted in the celebrated tradition of Scandinavian design yet infused with Italian quality craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Photo credits: Giorgio Possenti