WHO DOESN’T REMEMBER the silent films of the Roaring 20s? OK, so not everybody remembers if they are not from the baby booming generation but surely Charlie Chaplin rings a bell? What about Greta Garbo? Or Rudolf Valentino? Or Gary Cooper?
Well, anyway, guess what? There’s a new “period” hotel called Indigo Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles that is reliving the golden era of the pre-Hollywood days. (Actually, there are plenty of hotels in LA that relive the city’s entertainment-centric past − it’s just that Indigo Hotel is one of the latest in line to open this year in January 2017).
AND, as well as re-emoting Hollywood, or rather the pre-Hollywood era of the silent films and the starlets and directors of the time, it is also encapsulating the Fiesta de las Flores parade in the late 1800s and the underground tunnels and speakeasies of the 1920s.
First, let’s get to the Hollywood bit. For those of us not familiar with the history of Downtown Los Angeles or Hollywood, here is what Wikipedia says:
“The central region of Los Angeles, California is notable as the home of the US film industry including several of its historic studios such as 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, Paramount, Columbia and Universal. Hollywood was actually a small community in 1870 and was incorporated as a municipality in 1903. It was consolidated with the city of Los Angeles in 1910, and soon thereafter a prominent film industry emerged, eventually becoming the most recognizable film industry in the world.”
Anyway, the Indigo hotel − which this story is all about – is not just about the emergence of Tinseltown and the starlets and directors of the time. It is also about reliving the entire history of the time.
Thus it encapsulates the period of LA’s history from 1800s to the 1920s, thanks to the world famous interior designer of hospitality spaces ─ Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) ─ the firm chosen to do the reanimate LA’s evolutionary past through interior design.
A Netherworld Below Ground
Boutiquedesign.com and HBA themselves in their press release describe how LA’s history is re-told in Indigo Hotel.
The hotel’s entry experience recalls moving machinery decorated with flowers of the Fiestas de las Flores (now known as the Rose Parade). Large murals with ghosted flowers layered over imagery of carriages and crowds cover the walls of the lobby lounge. Above the reception desk, a custom chandelier Illuminates, hanging horizontally, illuminating a freestanding, floral-decorated “penny-farthing” bike set.
The lobby-level Metropolis Bar + Kitchen restaurant pays tribute to the neighbourhood’s Prohibition-era secret tunnels and underground parties. The designers split the space into two by inserting seating and a passageway through concrete tunnels. On one side of the tunnel, a bar is embellished with brass and copper metals reflecting onto the space’s 20-ft-tall wall and ceiling, which will be clad in pressed tin tiles. The other side features a speakeasy vibe with softer tones and a mural of jazz bands.
Influenced by the theaters in Downtown Los Angeles and envisioned to be a place where Angelenos would decompress while enjoying 1920s signature drinks and the extensive view, The Blue Den bar on the 18th floor was designed with the comfort of luscious blue velvets and a modern interpretation of the era’s design. Patterns were modernized and eclectically mixed. The
space, all in a dark blue tone, is accented by neon lighting and multiple metal finishes. The mixed seating arrangement, with different chair designs throughout, adds to the uniqueness of this space and provides for private seating areas for each group of patrons. In addition to being welcomed by framed old photographs of the theaters lining Broadway, a giant worm’s eye view of an iconic theater was placed on the ceiling of the lounge to give the perspective of an extended ceiling height.
Inspiration from the Movies
The designers have also drawn inspiration from the period’s movie starlets and directors with a focus on Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star, to create the guest rooms and suites. Both room types will feature loose pieces of furniture for a residential feel. Over-the-bed murals will depict what window views would have looked like during the turn of the century.
The first style of guest room will take cues from Wong’s experience living in Downtown LA, incorporating colours from the bougainvillea flower. Director-inspired executive guest rooms will have a more masculine feel with brown and maroon tones reminiscent of the leather and woods found in an office.
The hotel’s meeting and convention space reflect the formalwear patterns and textiles of early 1900s pre-Hollywood galas. Oversized images of precious stones are displayed along a dark blue-painted corridor facing a glass façade. Upholstered walls and wood veneers line the corridors leading to the meeting spaces. On the fourth-floor, two large murals portraying dancers at these galas lead to the outdoors.
“We sought to truly discover what it would have been like to be a guest at a hotel during a time when Los Angeles had just started to turn itself into this hub of entertainment and culture,” says Lassalle, HBA designer of the project. “Los Angeles is undergoing a transformation downtown, but you can’t move forward without looking to what made it great in the past.”