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Free Spirits

(May 2016) posted on Wed Jun 01, 2016

The designers of three noteworthy new independent hotels show how bending (or breaking) the rules can lead to a memorable guest experience.

By Oriana Lerner

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Will Beliharz, ArtisTree. Photo: Vandivier Photography.

Translating the organic silhouette of a leaf into a bedroom that could fit a queen-size bed presented Beliharz with his first logistical headache: finding an eco-friendly but pliable indoor wall treatment. “Two walls are curved, so it was a challenge finding anything that would bend around them,” he says. The ultra-thin plywood he eventually settled on serves as the base for a chic dark green paint treatment.

Lights along the suspension bridge leading to the treehouse create a welcoming ambience and frame the entrance. Photo: Vandivier Photography.

Keeping the FF&E streamlined and carefully curated was also a must. The distinctive look of recycled palette wood on the bed and headboard made the most of the room’s one statement piece. Grouping windows into twos and threes lets the light shine from all angles—not that most guests would be thinking about task lighting.

CLIENT: Cypress Valley Canopy Tours
DESIGN FIRM: ArtisTree: Will Beliharz, co-founder/chief operating officer

Hotel Eastlund
Portland, Oregon

Kevin Valk ditched the inspiration station in his design charrettes for the redo of a 1960s property that was originally a motor inn before several reflaggings, the most recent being a Red Lion. “We don’t typically use vision boards very much in our design process for this type of project,” says Valk, a principal at Portland-based Holst Architecture. “We study the existing building, understanding the realities of what can be achieved within the limitations, and then work through a reiterative process that studies multiple ideas, and continues refining through three-dimensional renderings over and over again.”

Plush throws and rich colors bring a decadent vibe to Eastlund's guest rooms. Simple shapes let the furniture take a back seat. Photo: Dan Tyrpak.

That’s fortunate, as this particular property didn’t exactly lend itself to blue sky thinking. The original car-centric layout of the exterior entry and circulation into the lobby didn’t offer pedestrian guests easy access (or a ton of curb appeal). Post-tensioned concrete floors made modifications to the guest room and bath layout out of reach. But a cramped guest room and bathroom footprint was about the only battle Valk was prepared to lose to the building’s limitations—most other interior walls and the exterior curtain wall were fair game for the knife.

Kevin Valk, Holst Architecture. Photo: Daniel Sharp.

So, in rethinking the lobby, the designers were able to take advantage of space that formerly housed a driveway under a roof, thereby giving guests more room to circulate. Reducing the number of entrances from three to one focused the layout, and adding a café addressed the need for social public spaces.

Since Valk couldn’t make major changes to the guest room architecture, he turned to art and soft goods to make his statement. Custom orange and gold draperies with a design inspired by a photo of 1960s Portland add an intense color pop and coordinate with bright accent pillows. A mirrored wall over the bathroom sinks maximizes the visual space.

Projects like this prove that necessity can be the mother of invention—or at least, some ultra-cool hotel spaces. Forget the dream RFP; real-world work can still be out-of-this-world eye candy.

OWNER: Grand Ventures Eastlund Hotel LLC: Alan Battersby, Craig Schafer & Desmond Mollendor
DESIGN FIRM: Holst Architecture: Kevin Valk, principal; Rachel Brand, project architect
DESIGN CONSULTANTS: Studio Art Direct Portland (art)
PURCHASING COMPANY: Hospitality Procurement Management
ACCESSORIES: Electric Mirror
ART: Loui Jover
BATH FIXTURES: Kohler; Speakman
CEILINGS: 9Wood; Owens Corning
FABRICS: Designtex; Maharam
FABRICATOR: Hartung Glass Industries
FLOORING: Dal-Tile; Durkan; Pental Marble and Flooring; Shaw Hospitality
FURNITURE: Ariston Hospitality
LIGHTING: Heller Lighting; LBL Lighting; Tech Lighting


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