Omorovicza: taking inspiration straight from the source

Omorovicza recently opened the doors to its new home in Budapest. Inspired by the lines, colours and heritage of the renowned Rácz Furdo bath, this stunning project in the heart of Andrássy Avenue is the epitome of relaxation and sophistication. We interviewed directors at Hyphen, Wayne Taylor and Alan Cheyne, to find out more…

The story behind the vision

Budapest has long been considered the spa capital of the world and nobody is more familiar with the curative properties of its waters than Stephen and Margaret de Heinrich, founders of luxury skincare brand Omorovicza.

In the 1800s, Stephen’s ancestors built the Rácz thermal bath on the site of a medieval spring.

To this day, many of the building’s original features have remained intact and its beauty and rich history inspired the design of Omorovicza’s new flagship store in the capital.

Aptly named the Institute for its innovative product and service offering, this revolutionary space provides a sanctuary from which the brand can continue to deliver the best of Budapest’s Curative Culture.

Turning Omorovicza’s vision into a reality

“We first got involved in this project in 2019”, recalls Alan. “I flew out to Budapest to meet Stephen and take a look at the site, but also to visit the historic baths. It was important to understand where the concept came from and the easiest way to do this was to experience it first-hand.

Upon entering the baths, you are met with a real feeling of grandeur and sense of calm. Each bathing area has a distinct look and feel and there is great sense of discovery.  The hexagonal floor tiles are complemented by the beautiful earthy tones of the walls and the spa areas have finely detailed oculi windows and vaulted ceilings. Many of these features have been carefully replicated and woven into the fabric of the new store so that they can once again be enjoyed by the public.”

“We were appointed as executive architect to realise the concept design”, explains Wayne. “A fundamental part of our role was to ensure that the materials used remained true to Omorovicza’s vision for the space. Every detail within the store has been hand-crafted or reclaimed by artisans in homage to the Rácz bath.

Stephen was keen to source materials locally to give the store an organic feel. This included the hexagonal terracotta floor tiles and bespoke cast iron fittings used for the lighting, balustrade and window roundels. The limestone in the millwork and wall cladding also came from a local supplier.

Intricate features such as the taps were sourced from antique dealers and the staircase and showers feature these amazing blue tiles that give the illusion of gazing into water.

One of our key challenges on this project was ensuring that everything remained within budget without compromising on the design.”

Location, conservation and restoration

The Institute sits on the opposite side of the Danube river to the Rácz bath. It is located in the heart of the famous Andrássy Avenue – one of Budapest’s major cultural and luxury retail hubs – and its neighbours include the likes of Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

Omorovicza’s new home is just a short walk from their previous store but offers much more in terms of treatment areas and event space.

“The whole boulevard is lined with Neo-renaissance mansions and townhouses”, explains Wayne. “It’s a very prominent area and like the Rácz bath, the avenue is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building that the store resides in is also protected, so it was important that we carefully preserve and maintain original features such as the existing façade, ensuring that works were carried out in compliance with local regulations.

The interior was more of a blank canvas as it had been stripped out by the predecessors who were using it as an apartment. However, one of the most impressive parts of the store is the entrance hall and main retail area as you walk in. We completely restored and refurbished this vaulted ceiling and it’s now a real ‘wow’ space to welcome guests.”

And the rest is history!

“As with any project, we encountered some challenges along the way – not least, the pandemic putting a stop / start to works,” recalls Wayne. “Using natural materials also had its quirks, as we discovered when we unwrapped the hexagonal terracotta floor tiles. When exposed to varying temperatures in the kiln, the tiles would change colour, so each one had to be carefully selected by hand to ensure that they tied in with the rest of the store.

It’s this attention to detail that makes this such a spectacular project and the results speak for themselves.”

Photographs © Omorovicza