23 Stories 12 – Interview with Andrew Todd, Tandem Design

Hastings Hotels is working collaboratively with interpretative design agency, Tandem to tell the story of Grand Central Hotel and by doing so to give visitors a sense of place and a better understanding where they are staying within Belfast.

We caught up recently with Andrew Todd, Creative Director, to discuss a little bit about his role with the project and to explore how Tandem will tell these stories for generations of future visitors.

Andrew explained that there are a number of ways in which stories will be told throughout the hotel in terms of its links to the wider city. One of the main pieces of work is the creation of a new poem with one of Northern Ireland’s best-loved poets which creates a sense of place and identity for Belfast with visitors and part of this poem will be used at different touchpoints in the hotel while the whole poem will come together in a new heritage book which will be in every single hotel bedroom, allowing guests to really invest themselves into the story of Belfast.

Belfast is a maritime city and was very much built around the shipyards and Linen industry so one of the pieces that has been commissioned is a large-scale illustration reinterpreting Belfast’s Coat of Arms which will hang in the Seahorse Restaurant and will be a real talking point for guests.

The location of the Grand Central Hotel in the Linen Quarter is very important to the hotel’s story and creating that sense of place. Tandem hopes what visitors will see and experience within the hotel will inspire them to explore life outside the hotel.

Reflecting on the Observatory lounge on the 23rd floor, Andrew explained that this will give visitors a unique view point across Belfast which will reconnect the hotel to the river and to the Irish Sea given its views across Titanic Quarter and up to Cave Hill and with the links to Jonathan Swift and Gulliver’s Travels Tandem Design has created a booklet which will allow visitors to explore the cityscape through illustration, with the hotel branding very much in the centre.

When asked what Grand Central means to him and the city of Belfast, Andrew claimed that the hotel is a ‘real vote of confidence’ from the Hastings Hotels group in Belfast, just like the original hotel was in Victorian Belfast at the absolute peak of boom-time Belfast. Belfast is re-emerging as a cultural and heritage destination and the Grand Central Hotel shows real belief in what Belfast can give to a visitor.

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