Boutique Design - September 2017 - 58
Albuquerque, New Mexico
6 Mixing surfaces in the lobby heightens
the impression of being in a desert
environment. Seating along a curved
wall evokes natural rock formations.
7 White bedding and lampshades brighten
a desert-inspired palette, while a darker
floor serves as a visual counterweight.
Heritage Hotels & Resorts
Kris Lajeskie Design, Kris
boutiquedesign.com September 2017
KRIS LAJESKIE DESIgN
NICK MERRICK (6); RYAN GOBUT Y (7); JENNY STEIGwART (L A JESKIE)
When it comes to digging deeper to find a truly authentic story, there's no
substitute for old-fashioned study. Guests-and owners-demand design
that reflects a place or culture beyond the Google-able high points. So, Kris
Lajeskie, founder of her eponymous studio, knew that even her three-decadelong study of the ancient peoples who populated New Mexico a millennium
ago was just the starting point for Albuquerque's Hotel Chaco.
The Pueblo culture and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Chaco Canyon
became the basis for the design. After the initial charrettes with owner Heritage Hotels & Resorts (HH&R), whose ceo James Long told Lajeskie and the
team (which included architect Gensler and Heritage's in-house designers)
what the hotel's theme would be, she headed to the American Museum of
Natural History to get an up-close-and-personal look at its vaults.
Twenty ceremonial cylinders and a jet frog effigy she saw there became
central focal points for the 118-key property's design. Working with Gensler,
Lajeskie re-created those cylinders as a visual foundation for the public
spaces. Placing them on the outside of the lobby atrium gives guests an
immediate reminder of the civilization to which the hotel pays homage.
The simplicity of those artefacts highlights a key attribute of the indigenous peoples that Lajeskie wanted to place top of mind. Keeping both the
color palette and the FF&E streamlined makes sure this 21st century building
is visually connected to both its contemporary surroundings and its history.
The circular layout of the lobby not only shares the geometry of those
details, but helps reinforce the idea of pared-down shapes as a means to a
sacred or transformative design experience, something Lajeskie felt was key
to making sure guests came away with a reverence for the culture.
That careful curation also smoothed the process of accommodating 25
different room types. "The basic design is very linear," says Lajeskie. She and
Long turned that same eye to the extensive art collection. Starting with a
separate budget just for art, she sought out Native American artists to produce
commissioned works. Her one-line directive? "Evoke the spirit of Chaco." That
intent unifies works across media from pottery to painting, as well as helping
to channel an immersive journey throughout the entire property.
Easier said than done, of course, but that's the point. Today's nonbranded stays thrive on the challenge of delivering more than just a pretty
picture. From booking to check-out, designers need to be prepared to craft