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French glamour meets Sydney chic

French glamour meets Sydney chic

What happens when you get a denim founder collaborating on the design of a hotel? The answer is The Strand, a collaboration between PUBLIC Design and Ksubi founder George Gorrow.

The Strand Hotel is a 99-year-old pub, which has now been revamped into a multi-level, 17-room hotel, including a rooftop in the middle of Sydney.

The project was undertaken by principal architect Tom de Plater of PUBLIC Design Studio and PUBLIC Hospitality, with the group bringing on board George Gorrow, co-founder of the iconic denim label Ksubi, as creative director.

The Strand Hotel offers a distinct Parisian sensibility, where grit meets glamour and dark black surfaces paint a masculine edge that contrasts against the refined furnishings and warm cream textures of the walls. The history and character of the building set a backdrop for a revived hospitality offering from the ground floor to the rooftop.

We put some questions to George Gorrow to get insight into the vision directly from the source:

Aleesha Callahan: What did the role of creative director entail when working on The Strand?

George Gorrow: A good friend of mine, Jon Adgemis, the owner of PUBLIC Hospitality, brought me across the new concept for The Strand Hotel he was working on. As soon as I saw it, the building and unique character reminded me of my time in Paris and I was immediately excited by it.

As creative director, I wanted to capture the intimate stories of the building, overflowing with history and culture, labyrinths of halls, and intriguing spaces. My role was to ensure the curation of the space, that it provided endless depth, and intimacy and to create a space that provided a sanctuary in the heart of Sydney.

The Strand is supposed to be a place that feels like you are a guest of someone you know and has a feeling of familiarity. Part of the role also included the choice of photography seen throughout the hotel (all from local artists that work in fashion and music) and capturing unique moments in Australian subcultures, in addition to the furniture, colours and textures seen throughout the hotel. This role will also continue to expand throughout upcoming PUBLIC venues in development.

How did your background in fashion and other interests come to life?

I wanted to bring in artists that I’ve worked with, particularly with the photography seen in the hallways throughout the hotel. I hand-selected Australian photographers such as Simon Lekius, Denniela Rache, Chris Searl and Dominic Rawl. The intimate nooks throughout the hotel including the reading room and listening room, allowed me to curate sets of books and records from different genres including books, Kate Bellm’s Amor (designed with my brother Steve), Maureen Callahan’s Champagne Supernovas, Alan Kaufman’s Outlaw Bible by American Poetry, and the historical Tsubi Gold Book for good luck.

Albums that guests can spin themselves in the listening room include the likes of Sebastian Atelier’s Sexuality, Rita Lee’s Señor Coconut and Zacky Force Funk’s Can’t Buy Me Love LA.

What was the experience you wanted to create for guests? How did you want them to feel while there, and be left thinking about after checkout?

I like to think of The Strand Hotel as a dirty martini; classic, with a twist. At The Strand we are offering Sydney sophistication with a hint of French glamour.

Is there a cross-over in the suites to what you would bring into your own home?

Absolutely – the black and white photography, especially the images from Rennie Ellis.

What’s your favourite spot or inclusion in the final outcome?

The library and listening room. There’s something special about sitting in the intimate space, listening to old records with a classic G&T in hand, and conversing with the interesting people of our city.

The hallways are adorned with photographs, hand-selected by Gorrow
The cocktail lounge invites guests to have an aperitiv
The Bistro downstairs has also undergone a revamp
The rooftop welcomes guests and Sydney-siders alike


Aleesha Callahan is the editor of Habitus. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Aleesha seeks out the unique people, projects and products that define the Indo Pacific region. Aleesha was previously the editor of Indesignlive.com and has written and contributed to various publications and brands in her 10 years in the architecture and design industry, bringing intimate insight to her stories having first trained and practised as an interior designer. Her passion for mid-century design and architecture began while living and working in Berlin.