Inspiration: Lauren Rottet, Interior Designer, the Surrey Hotel, New York

Posted: December 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: , | Comments Off on Inspiration: Lauren Rottet, Interior Designer, the Surrey Hotel, New York

Our newest inspiration is the Surrey Hotel’s redesign by none other than Lauren Rottet, founder and principal of Los Angeles-based Rottet Studio, and one of only two designers to hold the prestigious titles of Fellow of the American Institute of Architecture, Interior Design magazine Hall of Fame and Contract magazine’s Designer of the Year.  Known for an ability to bridge classically-based traditional (as opposed to granny traditional) with Modern-with-no-compromise (simplicity, as Philip Johnson knew, is expensive, hiding neither mistakes nor poor workmanship), Rottet “builds” her interiors using a mix of decorative and fine art from different periods, and through consideration of and sensitivity to material, shape, color and their combinations.

In The Surrey, she took inspiration from the neighborhood’s Beaux Arts-style townhouses, fashion boutiques, art galleries and overall vibe. That, along with 14 months and $66.2 million, yielded the new Madame Surrey: 190 rooms and suites in a cool, sophisticated palette of silvers, grays and warm whites reminiscent of Cole Porter, inter-war interiors. Into this envelope, Rottet then put Duxiana beds, Sferra linens, pillow menus, and furnishings that subtly combine several 20th-century styles.

In place, everything is also of place. “I designed all of the furniture, lights and accessories in the room to look as if they had either been in the room forever or had been collected over time as the owners traveled and saw things they liked,” Rottet says, pointing to the coffee table that she believes represents many of the design elements in the hotel. “It is Art Deco-inspired, and is stamped with the logo of an imaginary hotel I fantasized occupied the same site in the mid 1920s.”

A lamp based on those above the iconic American Bar in Vienna, designed by Adolph Loos. An oversized armchair, its geometry and lines reminiscent of the 1930’s work of French designer Jean-Michel Frank, known for his minimalist aesthetic upholstered in the most sumptuous of materials. Long seat cushions, each with four quotes or fragments of poems written by Rottet about New York (such as: “Through these windows lies the soul of the City, across Madison and down 5th Avenue…;” “Only here among the crowds can you find rest, neslted up above the park deep in the City…”; “Across these rooftops the stories are told, from Madison to the Park…”). Charming and personal, and something one remembers.

Not that there aren’t misfires. The bathroom is a Hollywood starlet-worthy stage of marble and tile, but without heated floors it’s too California-king-sized to warm up and make welcoming cocoon on cold winter and fall mornings. Likewise, the desk in the standard rooms: it’s well made, with various compartments, but is it too big in relation to the room?

As much as the dec arts distinguish The Surry, the fine art gives her identity. Dispersed throughout the hotel are works by boldfaced contemporary artists Jenny Holzer, Richard Serra, Claus Oldenberg, William Kentridge, Jimmie Martin, Imogen Cunningham, Cecily Brown (the list stretches on), all chosen by Rottet. Keeping contemporary from reading chilly—and giving clue to Mrs. Surrey’s personality—are color, texture and, thankfully, whimsy. Small tables in the dark, stylish Bar Pleiades (which boasts a cocktail menu by star mixologist Cameron Bogue), for example, are made by artist Jimmie Martin, who “graffitied” them with numbers, aiding, perhaps, a discreet blind date (“Meet you at number five, bébé”).

What kind of landmark might The Surrey become? The hotel is already well integrated into its neighborhood. In addition to the bar, there’s Café Boulud, the elegant though not stuffy food temple of Gallic god Daniel Boulud (who also oversees the hotel’s room service). And finishing construction this spring is a jaw-dropping roof terrace, which will be a gathering spot for guests as well as “invited neighbors.” No fees for these lucky locals will be charged; they will be simply chosen at the discretion of the hotel’s general manager, Spencer Wadama (making him undoubtedly a very popular and much wooed man on the UES).

In contrast to grande dames such as The Pierre or The Plaza in its earlier incarnation, The Surrey’s public areas are sequestered from the hotel itself. Or perhaps vice versa. One enters the main doors and may proceed through another set of doors into the lobby proper, or one turns left to the Bar Pleiades or right to Daniel Boulud. There is no area for coffee, loitering, or people-watching. That is the point.

Madame Surrey knows herself, her taste, who she wants to be and, just as importantly, who she doesn’t want to be. She has no Page Six ambitions, and Society for her means less the Met’s Costume Ball than her husband’s quieter, clubby, cultivated circle.

Her design will therefore have an impact, but it will be amongst those traveling in Business and First Class, those with second homes, and those who edit top national lifestyle and shelter magazines. Which means that while Madame Surry will be a comfort to few, she might be an inspiration to many.

Source: Andrew Myers, The Faster Times




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