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Step inside a fictional hotel with conceptual accommodation and furniture

As many designers will tell you, ‘A good piece of furniture brings a lot more to a space than just functionality’. If you ask us, no one’s taken this concept to heart more than Gabriel Hope, creator of Ex Hotel

By House & Garden South Africa | July 27, 2022 | Travel Leisure

Ex Hotel is a furniture brand operating as conceptual accommodation. More importantly, this fictional hotel with real furniture is the perfect place for its proprietor and concierge to house the ideas and worlds he creates. The concept of a hotel is key to understanding how he works. ‘In the same way that one can have a brief stay at a hotel, my ideas can be brief and fleeting, my interest intense, but short-lived,’ he says.

Ex Hotel furniture, photographed by Michael Hall

An avid furniture maker since his university days, Gabriel spent most of his undergraduate degree with his mattress on the floor redesigning his bed. ‘I haven’t finished that bed actually. It’s still a guest lounging by the pool in a monogrammed, towelling robe, sipping a margarita’, he says. These days, Gabriel’s committed to creating furniture that feels like beloved family heirlooms, garnering acclaim for his uniquely nostalgic, minimalist collections, produced in limited quantities. In fact, one of his elegantly understated pieces was in display at Decorex Africa this year.

By Gabriel’s admission, he tends to work from the smallest details outwards and sees the tangible parts of a piece as springboards for his work, an approach inspired by a well-known architect. ‘I remember reading something about Peter Zumthor, of Therme Vals hot baths fame, having an obsession with door handles on buildings because it’s the point at which you grab hold of the whole building. I loved that idea of grabbing onto a building, and have definitely transferred it over into my own thinking’, says Gabriel.

Image: Supplied

He’s a firm believer in the merits of having one foot in the past and one foot in the future, which is evident in his combined use of traditional woodwork techniques and modern processes. Of course, with this progressive mentality, there are plans for expansion. Ex Hotel may be fictional for now, but the brand has aspirations for parts of it to push through into reality and explore additional mediums.

The Ex Hotel and Crosspolynations collaboration, photographed by Chelsea Pickering

‘Recently I’ve been feeling like I’m more in the business of ‘worldification’ than furniture making. I wouldn’t want to limit this project to one medium only. It would be great to have a proper peek into some of the other rooms that I’m yet to explore more fully’.

Words by Neil Buchner