Hospitality Design - July 2011 - 107
Jeffrey Goodman and Steven Charlton
GoodmanCharlton, New York
The 25-year-old partnership between Jeffrey Goodman and Steven Charlton proves the more things change, the more they stay the same. The pair—who initially joined forces to start a furniture design and manufacturing business—now develop singular hospitality spaces with virtually the exact same creative POV. “We collaborate completely, nothing comes out of the ofﬁce that we have both not approved,” explains Goodman, one half of GoodmanCharlton. “But Steven focuses more on design and I focus more on the styling.” Of course things are never quite so simple. Indeed, as Goodman makes clear, he does far more than merely decorate and Charlton more than simply design. They have to, considering their ﬁrm now tackles both boutique and major hotel commissions ranging from New York’s quaint Hotel Marcel near Gramercy Park to the sprawling Empire Hotel, a 413-room landmark on the Upper West Side. The pair—partners in both life and business who admittedly spend “22 out of 24 hours a day together”—are best known as the quasi “house” designers for Amsterdam Hospitality. Their shift from product designers to hotel designers happened almost organically when they were asked to create the interiors for San Francisco’s quirky, whimsical Hotel Triton in 1991. “We went from hotel developers buying our designs,” Goodman recalls, “to designing a hotel ourselves.” The Triton quickly emerged as one of America’s ﬁrst celebrated “indie” boutiques and commissions (including the Amsterdam Hospitality portfolio) soon followed. Twenty years later, the pair have not only completed 10 different Amsterdam hotels, they’re now renovating their original work. “The market has changed so much in the past decade,” says Goodman. “We began when the entire ‘boutique’ concept was still new; now the competition is everywhere.” Yet it’s hardly surprising their largest project yet, redesigning the Empire Hotel, was also their most challenging. Charged with overhauling the entire hotel’s guestrooms and public spaces, the designers’ thinking had to shift from mini to maxi. “Normally we approach projects in a minimal way, but here we had to embrace excess,” recalls Goodman. “We designed and drafted, handled the spec work and purchasing; it was a real test of our endurance. Especially because we were working on two additional hotels at the same time.” With the Empire up and running and renovation work on those early Amsterdam commissions in progress, Goodman and Charlton are now tackling new projects, including a pair outside of New York. There’s the 350-room Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park on New Jersey’s shore and the Blake Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. And while these out-of-town projects certainly have shifted the partners’ travel routine, their work habits have barely budged. “Our volume of work may be bigger, but nothing much has changed after all these years,” Goodman says. “Our roles are really set in stone—Steven doesn’t do any purchasing and I don’t do any drawing. But we trust each other completely and equally.” hd
Clockwise from top left: Steven Charlton and Jeffrey Goodman; a rendering of the Empire Room, a bar in the Empire State Building in New York; and a new guestroom and corridor at Amsterdam Hospitality’s Moderne Hotel in New York.