Melting Spot

The designers behind Hotel 50 Bowery think local as well as global to deliver a lifestyle nexus that’s a part of a borough on the rise.

In this era of hyperlocal inspiration and ever-changing city maps, “authentic” doesn’t just mean what’s right outside the hotel’s front door.

To feel real, local means understanding what’s ingrained in the mentality of the people who live or work in the neighborhood—not just the architecture or the landmark reference points. Getting into their heads and learning all the cultural cues and lifestyle hacks that shape the unique character of the locale is the minimum daily requirement for distilling non-Instagram moments into wow design.

Hotel 50 Bowery

Oversize graphics work to show guests the light at the end of a seductively dark corridor. Photo: Courtesy of Hotel 50 Bowery

Just ask the design team who crafted the look of Hotel 50 Bowery: Christopher Alvarado, senior director of design and development services, Two Roads Hospitality; and senior designer and project manager Margarita Velez-Mantovani, Wimberly Interiors. In the still-gentrifying Bowery neighborhood, their concept for 229-key hotel—the first New York outpost for Two Roads’ Joie de Vivre Hotels unit—draws not only on its Chinatown neighborhood and the hotel owners’ long history there, but on aspects of Asian architecture and design that would have been top of mind for the first immigrants to the neighborhood, as well as more modern and down-to-earth references that would appeal to the influx of Asian travelers coming to this Chinatown (New York has several others, including in Flushing, Harlem and Brooklyn).

Christopher Alvarado | Two Roads Hospitality

Christopher Alvarado, Two Roads Hospitality. Photo: Albert Alvarado

“For example, the light fixtures in the hotel lobby give a nod to the incense cones that hang from the ceilings of temples omnipresent throughout Asia (especially the Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong), but also play off the fact that Chinatown remains a haven for lighting showrooms,” says Velez-Mantovani. Adds Velez-Mantovani: “The lobby also features a traditional Moon Gate, a Chinese architectural element often found in gardens, filled with amber seeded glass that provides a peek into the adjacent restaurant.”

Margarita Velez-Mantovani | Wimberly Interiors

Margarita Velez-Mantovani, Wimberly Interiors. Photo: Courtesy of Wimberly Interiors

Conjuring up some urban magic in the rest of the hotel required the same combination of blue-sky and grounded thinking. Case in point: including space for the Museum of Chinese in America to curate exhibits (which can also be booked as a private event space) puts a truly authentic spin on respecting the past, while more modern pieces by New York artists serve as both art and décor.

But creating an environment that complements, not drowns, the pieces took some restraint. Streamlined shapes and a muted palette are key, says Velez-Mantovani. That left only one other element in which to put the emphasis.

Hotel 50 Bowery

Playing with scale in the lobby helps creates zones for guests. Sofas form an impromptu living room in one corner, while wraparound seating defines another. Photo: Courtesy of Hotel 50 Bowery

“Lighting was such an important part of this project,” she says. “It couldn’t just be an architectural fixture or utilitarian in anyway. Our goal was to achieve a layering of low light throughout both the hotel and the restaurant. The illumination isn’t only lighting the space but through the layers highlights the textures and the details, allowing them to shine through. During the day, light floods the spaces due to the floor to ceiling windows, which helped provide moodier lighting, showcasing both the interiors and the stunning city views.”

For projects like this, taking the pulse of a market like New York also means paying close attention to the guests who are expected to inhabit the spaces. “We initially identified who our aspirational guests would be—which ranged from the entertainment industry to international travelers to foodies—while taking into account that we would also have to cater to a predominately Asian traveler. I think knowing these expectations up front allowed us take on some of these challenges head on,” says Alvarado.

The message? Take more than a New York minute to get real about the project before opening up Pinterest.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS

CLIENT
Two Roads Hospitality

DESIGN FIRMS
Two Roads Hospitality: Christopher Alvarado, senior director of design and development services; Wimberly Interiors: Noel Cuvin, creative director and associate; Margarita Velez-Mantovani, project manager and senior designer; Rebecca Weinstein, former senior designer and associate

ARCHITECT
Peter Poon Architects

PURCHASING COMPANY
Carver & Associates

GENERAL CONTRACTOR
Flintlock Construction

DESIGN CONSULTANTS
Town and Gardens (landscape)

ART & ACCESSORIES
nAscent Art NY
Silver Hill Atelier

AUDIO/VISUAL
Ti-Tone Communications (Consultant)

BATH & SPA
ASI
Cesarstone
Lacava
Lefroy Brooks
Stone source

CEILINGS
Armstrong Fixtures
Chapman
Edwin
Flos
iWorks
HB Architectural Lighting
RH Contract

FLOORING
Liora Manne
Nanimarquina
Shaw Hospitality Group
TechGrass NYC
Zenith

FURNITURE
Arteriors Contract
Casamidy
Fermob
Fleetwood
Herman Miller
HF Collection
Ian Ingersoll Cabinetmakers
Ligne Roset
Lily Jack
MTS Seating
Palecek
RH Contract
Stellarworks

FABRICS
Demar Leather
Donghia
Fabricut
JAB
Krave
P/Kaufmann
Romo Group
Valley Forge Fabrics
Wolf Gordon

LIGHTING
Amerlux
Birchwood Lighting
Cree True White Technology
CS Illumination (distributor)
Edge Lighting
Jesco Lighting

SURFACING MATERIALS
Armstrong
Benjamin Moore
Cowtan & Tout
Daltile
Design and Direct Source
Eco Surfaces
ecobklyn
Elements of Architecture
Get Real Surfaces
Inalco Tiles
MDC
Phillip Jeffries
Pollack
Shaw Hospitality Group
Silverhill Atelier
Spartan Surfaces
Stone Source

WALLCOVERINGS
MDC

WINDOW TREATMENTS
Bramson House

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