Hospitality Design - July 2014 - (Page 49)

perspectives sketchbook diamond horseshoe > "Being a part of a project that brings the renowned Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe back to life from the 1940s was a real honor," says Michael Suomi, principal and vice president of design at Stonehill & Taylor, of his firm's architecture and space planning work on the experiential dinner theater venue originally designed by Thomas Lamb in the basement of New York's Paramount Hotel. "We worked hard to pay proper respect to its iconic past, while creating something unique for today, in close collaboration with an amazingly talented group." That group included interior designer Meg Sharpe and set designer Douglas Little. "We rediscovered a space with an incredible history that had largely been left in ruin after its closing," explains Sharpe. "Due to damage and current codes almost nothing was salvageable. They [developer Aby Rosen, producer Randy Weiner, nightlife impresario Simon Hammerstein, and restaurant group LDV Hospitality] really let us use our imaginations to dream up the big overall conceptual gesture." To complement the current show, Queen of the Night (an immersive, extravagant blend of surreal circus, burlesque show, and opulent food and drink), Sharpe and the team imagined a story about an eccentric and decadent marchesa who flees her creditors in Italy "after throwing too many lavish dinners, ballets, and theaters," she explains. "She runs to New York, taking fragments of her past life with her and stumbles across this underground theater space in shambles. She knows she can breathe life into the space and starts with the main room, filling it up with all her treasures. She then invites her society guests to her avant-garde salons with incredible food and performance for wild evenings of debauchery." Guests enter a space that seems like it is still under construction, dilapidated with holes in the walls, graffiti, and leftover construction materials. As they descend a grand staircase, the design slowly begins to build, as does the music, until they reach the glamorous theater. "We wanted the audience to discover the space as we did and as our host would have," explains Sharpe. Adds Little: "The dilapidation in the design is what makes the space wonderful and romantic. It is definitely beautiful and refined, yet it has a ruined feeling, which brings a sense of rock 'n' roll, hedonism, and debauchery." Little was responsible for the layers of theatrical touches, as well as many of the secret salons, to which only a select number of guests are whisked off by actors throughout the evening. His favorite: the queen's boudoir and bathroom, which is covered in wax, from the walls to the bed to the bathroom, and lit and sculpted in Art Deco designs with sexual undertones. "The idea there is to give it a feel of a cavern or secret cave," he says. As for the main theater, the design "celebrates the use of curves instead of straight lines, creating a sense of motion that harkens back to the original oval shape, radiating from the center," explains Suomi. "We created the highly ornamental decorative ceiling with domes, trim, and the fiber optic starry sky. We overlaid elements, such as the raised seating pods, the DJ booth, and other curved pieces that break the classical mold. We find this juxtaposition of forms to be vibrantly unexpected and unique." July 2014 049

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - July 2014

Hospitality Design - July 2014
Online TOC
From the Editor
State of the Industry
Eastern Canada
Radical Innovation in Hospitality Award
5 Questions for Jason Pomeranc
Emma Gardner
IIDA/HD Product Design Competition
HD Americas Preview
From the Show Director
Keynote Speaker
Conference Highlights
The Power of Story
Ad Index
Back Space

Hospitality Design - July 2014