Boutique Design - May 2017 - 28
4 In the upcoming Ace
Chicago, the guest
room is a 24-hour space
designed to inspire
anything from a hit song
to a yummy drink.
Partner and chief brand officer,
ace hotel/atelier ace
HOW DOES A "BOUTIQUE" HOTEL KEEP PACE WITH THE MULTIFACETED
EXPECTATIONS GUESTS NOW HAVE?
SAWDON: Think like they do-don't get stuck in your own thinking. Things change
because we do, and we're grateful for it. This philosophy applies to all things that
interest us-from people, to travel, to food, design, cultural movements, art,
publishing, literature, films, science, the natural world, etc. In that sense, our definition of "lifestyle" is broad and inclusive and has allowed us to expand our life's work
beyond just offering hotel rooms. With the help of friends and collaborators, we've
opened venues, art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops and retail stores and had a
hand in events, product development and large-scale art projects.
that our spaces-with many unique, one-of-a-kind objects and well-worn, idiosyncratic furnishings-feel lived in, it's not about the objects in the space, nor
about the design, even. It's difficult to quantify, but it's the inimitable convergence of diverse ideas and experiences.
HOW DO YOU CREATE A SET OF "LOCAL" REFERENCES THAT GO BEYOND
SAWDON: We work with local makers and source most of the furniture and
objects from the region, using our spaces as a platform for local creative collaborations and cultural endeavors. In Pittsburgh, for example, local stained glass
master Glenn Greene fashioned a vestibule window installation for our lobby
with original glass salvaged from the abandoned YMCA that became the hotel.
The local woodworking shop Bones and All crafted versatile luggage rests, table
tops and a large, communal table for the lobby. In New Orleans, local potter
and activist Osa Atoe made beautiful ceramic salad and pasta bowls for our
restaurant, Josephine Estelle, and all of the vintage furniture and found art
that's in the lobby was sourced in flea markets and garage sales in the South.
We worked with 32 artists to interpret landscape paintings for the Douglas fir
armoires in the rooms.
WHAT DO YOU WANT GUESTS TO COME AWAY THINKING?
SAWDON: Traveling is an opportunity to experience a new way of living and
HOW DO YOU SUM UP THE VIBE YOU'RE CREATING?
SAWDON: We also try to help harness the creative spirit that comes from trav-
eling. Our hotel rooms have guitars, record players, pencils and stationery for
letter-writing and a curated selection of vinyls and magazines. Though it's true
boutiquedesign.com may 2017
being. It's a chance to disrupt your daily routine and try out new selves. We try
to offer a space that allows guests a comfortable platform to jump off from-
an experience that leads to other experiences. Nothing overly designed, but
everything considered, with all the comforts necessary.
LINDSE Y BYRNES (SAWDON); NICHOL A S JAMES (ACE)
Ace Hotel became the byword for hotels as places to live in, not stay at, before
Airbnb even started to give hoteliers nightmares. So, what's new for the iconic
(and storied enough to rate a parody on "Portlandia") flag in 2017 and beyond?
Sawdon's going to keep taking it to the streets, both intensifying the local
connection in design and continuing to forge new cultural connections on the
Atelier Ace side. Thanks to her previous career in marketing at Neverstop,
where she worked with brands as diverse as Nike and MSN Music, she's the first
one to look past travel when it comes to lifestyle inspiration. See how she
approaches disruption for today below, including in the upcoming Ace
Chicago, due to open this fall.