How these Pink Floyd Fans Prove You Don’t Need to Go Into “Interstellar Overdrive” For Good Design
The Floyd Room, an Airbnb for Pink Floyd fans, by Pink Floyd fans demonstrates one of the most important but often overlooked design principles, the principle of restraint.
If I told you I was going to take you to see an Airbnb designed by Pink Floyd “super- fans”, specifically for other Pink Floyd fans, what kind of interior do you imagine it would have? Well, before meeting Boris Pleša I would have envisioned the room of my teenage dreams, consisting of lots of psychedelia, an overwhelming amount of concert memorabilia, and wall-to-wall chotskies emblazoned with various Pink Floyd logos (and, if we’re being honest, some marijuana references as well) just to prove without a doubt that the owners were definitely some of the biggest Pink Floyd fans ever! Especially, in the era we live in now, where everything must be “the most”, what I found at the Floyd Room in Zagreb, surprisingly couldn’t have been more focused and restrained.
After spending an afternoon with Boris in the Floyd Room talking, drinking wine, and listening to, of course, Pink Floyd on vinyl I felt all the feelings you’d expect to feel, and some others that were unexpected. There was no denying I was in on the joke as I recognized many of the subtle references in the room, but I was also curious about all the ones I didn’t get. I’m convinced that this special experience couldn’t have been designed with such discipline and restraint by just any Pink Floyd fan, which is why after learning that Boris is a graphic designer by trade, the design choices all made sense (check out Boris’s sleek portfolio here).
Anyone who’s done anything professionally related to design knows about Dieter Rams, a famous German industrial designer from the ’50s & 60’s that’s been instrumental in shaping twenty-first-century design by writing “Ten Principles For Good Design”. It’s basically a road map to aid when asking “Is my design good?” Ram’s tenth design principle states, “Good design is as little design as possible”. This principle, like all the others, is important no matter what you’re designing, whether it be a website, clothing, hardware, software, a photo, a logo, an interior or even a piece of writing.
I can imagine that the hardest part of having Pink Floyd as your inspiration would simply be choosing which things to focus on. The sheer amount of items available to choose from is overwhelming. A quick search on Amazon returns over 1700 Pink Floyd home decor items. There are over 2400 individual Pink Floyd items on eBay. That’s not even including memorabilia! They are one of the bands with arguably the most merchandise ever. Their entire catalog of music consists of fifteen studio albums, three live albums, nine compilation albums, four box sets, five extended plays, and twenty-seven singles. Album artwork alone could easily fill an entire house.
So how did Boris and his wife Iva go about designing the Floyd Room to show it was for Pink Floyd fans while still remaining true to Ram’s 10th design principle that emphasizes the simplicity of design. The challenge was to create a space that not only would make fans feel “Comfortably Numb” but also wouldn’t be too unapproachable for people who had yet to discover the band, or were simply looking for clean, reasonably priced accommodations from which to explore Zagreb.
The answer for Boris and Eva included six months of drawing and designing and another six months of digging and drilling. Luckily Boris’s Father is a builder and his brother is in civil engineering, but even so, it took them almost a year to complete it. Their do-it-yourself sensibilities didn’t stop, however, once the space was complete. With Boris’s background in graphic design, they created many of the one of a kind items inside, which make you feel that you are truly someplace special.
One such item, created by hand by Boris and Iva, is the “Mr. Screen” replica that’s the focal point of the main gathering space. Pink Floyd fans know that they were pioneers in the live music experience, and renowned for their lavish stage shows. A large circular projection panel dubbed “Mr. Screen” first made an appearance during performances of Dark Side of the Moon. The replica is one of Boris’s favorite pieces which he made from an “unusually small trampoline” with lights surrounding a large eyeball. “It was very difficult to make”, admitted Boris when asked about it, but the result was definitely worth it.
Of course, it’s impossible to visit the Floyd Room and not wonder about how, and when Boris became a fan of the band. It’s not surprising to learn, given Boris’s career choice, that for him the visual aspect of the band is what grabbed his attention first. Boris explained to me, “On the way back from school there was, in the center of the city, a street market when I was in the first grade of high school. The street market had old guys selling LPs. I saw them and I was in love with the album covers. I guess I was a designer even then and didn’t know it. Of course, the one that caught my eye was Dark Side of the Moon but it took me a while to buy it; I had never heard their music. I went home and was like ‘Wow, look at this thing [album cover]!’ The music came later.”
In their first 6 months of operation Boris and Iva have hosted guests from 33 different countries around the globe. Only half of their guests were Pink Floyd fans and about 25% of their guests weren’t even into music. It was the second group of guests that Boris and Iva had the most concern for when executing their design. It’s why they made a deliberate effort to keep the majority of the accommodations clean, and simple. So while the front room is a common area filled with Pink Floyd related items, a shared space where people (not necessarily guests) can meet, listen to the LPs together, have a drink, chat, play guitar, read, or simply hang out, the other rooms have only a few focused items on display.
It’s clear Boris and Iva put a lot of time and thought into their one of a kind Airbnb. It’s a constant study of restraint in design that perfectly walks the line between enthusiasm and simplicity. Even the name they chose, Floyd Room, is understated. Most people would have named it directly after the band but they only used what was absolutely essential.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Floyd Room is trying to figure out the meaning behind each item in it. After spending time inside, looking at all the individual pieces you come to realize everything is deliberate and has a hidden meaning, so the entire place becomes a puzzle. I can’t tell you how many rabbit holes I went down writing this piece trying to figure out obscure references by specific design choices they made (I may break down and just ask Boris about a couple!). “We really like when someone comes and feels like that. There is some content here and not just a place to sleep.”
Since opening, the Floyd Room has garnered quite a buzz, both locally, and internationally. Boris and Iva were even featured in Brain Damage U.K., arguably the place for Pink Floyd related news and information, along with several local Croatian news sources, and TV shows. Even after all that attention though they were still surprised when I reached out to interview them. Their humbleness, combined with their focused designs and love of Pink Floyd makes it clear to see why they are Airbnb Superhosts with rave reviews from guests.
The Floyd Room here in Zagreb has everything you would want from a Pink Floyd Airbnb but for me, it’s what isn’t there that makes the design feel perfect. Everything Boris and Iva have placed there feels special, deliberate, and well-thought-out. You can tell Pink Floyd isn’t just the theme of their Airbnb but the theme of their life. That was confirmed when I found out they actually met 20 years ago at a Pink Floyd concert in Prague in 1994. Lucky us!