When Darkness Falls pix
That's the magic hour for Mark Zeff's Night hotel, New York
Bob Morris -- Interior Design, 4/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
In the lobby lounge at Zeff Design's Night hotel in New York, leather-covered Eileen Gray–style chairs flank a 1940's lacquered commode topped by a Portuguese ceramic lamp, also from the 1940's. The wall tile is glass.
Defining the lobby's front-to-back corridor, a 100-foot-long canopy is constructed of two layers of tempered low-iron glass sandwiching a single layer of opaque glass. The Gothic-script Night logo embellishes custom wool broadloom. Above the reception desk hang aluminum pendant fixtures by Manel Ybargüengoitia.
Mark Zeff based the Nightlife restaurant's brass lanterns on a Moroccan design. The walls are Venetian plaster.
The lounge's arts and crafts breakfront is stained bog oak.
All seven guest floors feature mini video monitors that play animated loops of room numbers.
In a standard guest room, the custom headboard, upholstered in faux leather, is built into a canopy of stained oak. So are nightstands with chrome panels.
New stairs of Carrara marble rise from the lounge.
A woven-nylon scrim updates the facade of the 1920's building, which is near Times Square.
A wallpapered closet.
One of 72 guest-room doors.
Thistle wallpaper in a guest room.
Zeff designed the lounge's cowhide-covered sofa. Above, light boxes display images shot by Faubel Christensen for Picture Farm Productions.
A waxed-canvas outdoor curtain draping the front of the lounge.
The N logo in stainless steel, set into the granite floor of the vestibule.
A custom cold-rolled steel table in the lounge.
|Vikram Chatwal knows the night. The sometime actor, who also heads up the boutique division of his family's Hampshire Hotels and Resorts, is equally likely to be seen in London, Bombay, Los Angeles, or Miami, hopping out of a sports car and breezing past velvet ropes to mingle with the international hipster set. When he opened his third boutique hotel in New York, he named it Night.
Mark Zeff, Chatwal says, "got it right away." Well, almost right away. When Zeff saw the site, a small 1920's hotel near Times Square, he envisioned Gotham Gothic in all black, with a kind of Bruce Wayne bat-cave vibe. But it didn't take long for the designer to warm to Chatwal's vision of a more comforting black and white.
Zeff Design is known for its attention to both small details and big branding, and Zeff soon developed a Night concept built around the fictional persona of Mr. Knight, a bon vivant. "From there," Zeff explains, "we developed the idea of the hotel as this character's home, a 21st-century manor house." So he and Chatwal arranged a photo shoot starring the distinguished gentleman, flanked by young models styled like languid sybarites. The result? Decadent tableaux installed in mirror-framed light boxes.
"It completely sets the tone," Chatwal says. "Chivalrous and sexy."
Zeff then set about doing what he does best, creating an atmosphere based on a narrative. "Hotel guests like to own the idea of a place," he says. "It has to be both inspirational and aspirational." To pull that off, he used the kind of luxurious custom pieces that distinguish many of his adventurous urban residences.
The 22,000-square-foot hotel's lobby mixes past, present, and beyond, suggesting both the familiar and the fantastic. The traditional-looking black-and-white checkerboard carpet and the shiny black glass wall tile suggest the deco elegance of the uptown hotel Carlyle. But a 100-foot-long opaline glass canopy, installed in the lobby's main corridor, introduces a more contemporary feel.
If the barrel chairs seem unusually sexy, it's because Zeff covered them in a reconstituted black leather that reads more motorcycle than manor house. "What can I say?" he asks. "It's all the sensibilities I love."
What he doesn't like at all is things that match. "I prefer," he says, "when they have an ironic relationship."
In the lobby lounge, for instance, he placed white Portuguese ceramic table lamps from the 1940's near his own speckled cowhide-covered sofa, all facing off against the posh white leather of lounge chairs across the room. An eminently civilized black-stained arts and crafts breakfront is tucked into a corner, while two dangerous-looking aluminum pendant globes hang above the reception desk. In the small restaurant in back—called Nightlife, open till 4:00 AM—the ceiling's Moroccan-style brass lanterns flaunt their ironic relationship with the black faux-leather banquette upholstery and table covers.
Chatwal knows that urban hotels short on space have to be big on concept. (His previous two hotels in the area are the heavily thematic Time and Dream.) And he encouraged Zeff to design outrageously atmospheric guest rooms—resulting in a dark fantasia that owes as much to Oscar Wilde as Helmut Newton.
In the 72 guest rooms and suites, the wallpaper's black-on-white oversize thistle pattern sets a menacing tone. The palette is predominantly black: black ceramic tile for the small windowless bathrooms, black leather for the task chair beside each bed, black faux leather for the bed's upholstered headboard, and black-stained oak for the bed's curved canopy, which looms like a shadow in the moonlight.
"Or maybe it's a cobra looking over you," Chatwal suggests. "The whole style is a little sexy, even a little S&M—something that both tests and seduces you. New York is definitely the place for that."
And while the vibe everywhere at the Night is young, the lobby still offers a civilized cocktail hour with old-school butler service to instill manor-house graciousness. Not in the plans: the mannerless mob scenes common to hipster hotels. "We don't believe in velvet ropes," Chatwal says.
Perhaps they will have to be black leather.
Project Managers: Mark Zeff, Jorge Porta
Project Team: Christine Walder, Meredith Bacheller
CHAIRS (LOUNGE): GORDON INTERNATIONAL. COMMODES: THROUGH HOME NATURE. LAMPS: THROUGH JOHN SALIBELLO ANTIQUES; LEXINGTON LAMPSHADES (CUSTOM SHADES). CUSTOM WALL TILE (LOBBY, STAIRWELL): THROUGH BENDHEIM. CUSTOM CARPET (LOBBY, GUEST CORRIDOR): ULSTER CARPETS. PENDANT FIXTURES (LOBBY CORRIDOR): B. LUX THROUGH GLOBAL LIGHTING. CUSTOM CANOPY: CRISTACURVA. WALL FINISH (RESTAURANT): TEXSTON. CARPET: INTERFACE. BANQUETTE UPHOLSTERING, CUSTOM TABLE COVERS: MUNROD CUSTOM UPHOLSTERERS; MAHARAM (UPHOLSTERY). CUSTOM ROUND TABLES (RESTAURANT, LOUNGE), CUSTOM COCKTAIL TABLE (LOUNGE): LE CORBEAU. CHAIRS (RESTAURANT): ANDREU WORLD. CUSTOM LIGHT BOXES (RESTAURANT, LOUNGE), CUSTOM SOFA (LOUNGE), CUSTOM BED (GUEST ROOM): MELINEA FURNITURE. CUSTOM DRAPERY (EXTERIOR): INTERIOR DESIGN COLLECTIONS. LOGO INSTALLATION (VESTIBULE): SPANJER SIGN CORP. BREAKFRONT (LOUNGE): THROUGH HORSEMAN ANTIQUES; MANHATTAN MILLWORK (REFINISHING). SOFA UPHOLSTERY (LOUNGE): GLOBAL LEATHERS. PHOTOGRAPHY PRINTING, MOUNTING: DUGGAL. BED LINENS (GUEST ROOM): FRETTE. READING LIGHTS: BALDINGER. CUSTOM DRAPERY: WINDOWS, WALLS MORE; ARC-COM FABRICS (FABRIC). DRAPERY PRINT, WALLPAPER: TIMOROUS BEASTIES. WALLPAPER (GUEST CLOSET): COUNTRY SWEDISH. DOORBELL (GUEST ROOM): INGERSOLL-RAND COMPANY. CUSTOM BANNER (EXTERIOR): BIG APPLE VISUAL GROUP. PLANTERS: TOWN GARDEN. MILLWORK: TECHNETEK.