My Jean Nouvel Suite at the Puerta America Hotel in Madrid. Text & photos by Glenn Belverio

Above: A photo of a slightly louche geisha by famed Japanese photographer Ar?k? ????? adorns one of the suite’s sliding glass partitions.

Dear Shaded Viewers,

While I was covering Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week last month, I was a guest on the Jean Nouvel-designed floor at the Puerta America Hotel in lavish accommodations that can only be described as “the Japanese Emperor’s Suite.” As some readers may recall, last season I had a rather interesting stay at this hotel–where every floor is designed by a different starchitect–when I was put up on the floor designed by Zaha Hadid. While Hadid’s room was challenging and thought-provoking, I was hoping for something a little more serene and comfortable this time around. I was not disappointed.


Getting off the elevator for the first time on the extremely dark Jean Nouvel floor is a slightly daunting affair. I felt like I had mistakenly stumbled into a sex club.


Poetry, in English and Japanese, lines the walls of the entrance to the floor.


After feeling my way around the dark hallways, I was relieved to enter a suite that was extremely airy and full of light, with vast windows, white leather furniture, off-white walls and enormous plate glass partitions. Once you pass through a foyer (yes, the suite actually has its own foyer) you enter this room which was like a waiting room in a chic office. The design of the rooms and suites on this floor is a postmodern interpretation of traditional Japanese interiors.


The suite is designed with 4 sliding walls that imitate the concept of Japanese paper shoji screens that have been around for centuries and originated in China in 4 B.C. Nouvel’s versions are much heavier but slide easily, providing numerous ways to configure the suite and change its look. Three of the sliding walls are made of thick plate glass (two featured Araki photos–the above is of a Japanese water lily), the third is a semi-translucent mirror and the 4th, white and opaque, is made from the same material as the suite’s proper walls.




The suite is on the 12th floor so I was treated to stunning views of Madrid.




Beyond the bathtub and behind the sink area is a clear-glass-walled and mirrored shower with a planked wooden floor, a walk-in closet and a water closet.


The ceilings of the suite are constructed from canvas which are back-lit with water-color-like illuminations. The walls have glow-in-the-dark patterns that imitate the ones on the ceilings.




Thanks for reading.


Glenn Belverio 

Glenn Belverio

Glenn Belverio is a writer and New Yorker. He has been reporting for ASVOF since 2005 and currently works at The Museum of Modern Art as the Content Manager for MoMA Design Store.