Dynamic design, musical references and a really tight reno timeline made the rebirth of The Redbury New York a speed trick for sbe.
A storied past is one thing for a designer to take on. A 265-room hotel that’s been reflagged twice in four years is something else—especially with a tight budget and a four-month turnaround. That’s what sbe’s creative team found in the brief to turn the historic Martha Washington Hotel (formerly the King and Grove New York) into a Big Apple outpost for the music-inspired Redbury brand.
A wall mural sets the scene at The Redbury's entrance. Checkered flooring and elaborate drapery bring in a theatrical flair. Photo: Courtesy of The Redbury New York
Oh, and there was no blank slate for the restaurant or the architecture. “The restaurant is a separately leased space operated by Union Square Hospitality Group and, therefore, we had little influence over the design or aesthetic,” says Jason Cruce, vice president, Dakota Development Co. LLC, sbe’s design and development arm. “In addition, the owner of the property had a very limited budget for the repositioning/renovation and we had to make sure that every dollar available was maximized.”
Jason Cruce, Dakota Development Co. LLC. Photo: Studio J
So, how did he and the design team (Avenue Interior Design and Matthew Rolston Creative collaborated with sbe on the project) make it work? Fortunately, there was a lot that wasn’t broken. “We were able to use most of the existing building components and made only minor modifications—such as the screen walls and drapery in the lobby—to develop more intimate and unique spaces,” he says.
Strings of lights on the terrace offer an ethereal contrast to dark seating and tables. Ornate doors work as a focal point. Photo: Courtesy of The Redbury New York
Subdividing the public areas helped craft a fresh identity for the property by taking the primary emphasis off the restaurant and creating a series of vignettes. High-impact elements, such as wall-size graphics, make a major statement without requiring a structural investment.
The building's proximity to Tin Pan Alley gave the team a rich well of inspiration. Red walls and a collection of images generate a backstage vibe. Photo: Courtesy of The Redbury New York
The guest room renovation wasn’t any simpler. Not only did 40-plus room footprints each need a layout that worked for them, the hotel’s seasonal guest list veers between longer stay summer vacationers and winter business travelers stopping by for briefer stays. A soft-goods-heavy approach with red accent walls provided a flexible backdrop for Tin Pan Alley-inspired memorabilia (the hotel is located next to that famed area).
Too kitsch? Not here, says sbe creative director Matthew Rolston. “There is a subjective line between cliché and the joy of indulgence in pop culture memorabilia. Therefore, I’d say that perhaps kitsch is in the eye of the beholder. Most importantly, I wanted to connect New York’s vibrant history to the brand’s identity. American pop music and its history is that connection.”
DESIGN FIRMS: Avenue Interior Design: Ashley Manhan, principal; Jenna Rochon, project designer
Dakota Development Co. LLC: Jason Cruce, vice president; Lauren Borisoff, senior design manager
Matthew Rolston Creative: Matthew Rolston, creative director, Justin Gravier, executive assistant
PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PURCHASING COMPANY: Dakota Development Co. LLC
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Certified of NY Inc.
ACCESSORIES: Books by the Foot; MediaGraph; RH Contract
ART: Esfandi Project Management
CARPETS: EGE Carpets
CASEGOODS AND UPHOLSTERY: El Arca Ironworks; Republic Furniture Manufacturing
DRAPERY: Northeast Stage LLC
LIGHTING: Circa Lighting; Schoolhouse Electric
WALLCOVERINGS: F Schumacher
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