It all started with one simple light fixture. Sometimes that’s how it goes in the design process — and that’s all it takes for the vision to spread like kudzu. That vision fell into place for Robin Kelley and Kathy Steele while working together on Austin’s East Austin Hotel. “For me, the hotel interior design direction started to click when I came across a ceramic light pendant from an obscure Danish ceramicist, Jette Helleroe, who created work in the 1960s and 70s,” Robin explains. “It was love at ﬁrst sight – the ﬂat top portion of the pendant had the most gorgeous two-toned blue V’s in a crackled glazed paint and large amber glass beads along the pendant sides. That pendant set the color palette and space in time for the project. Helleroe’s ceramics in combination with the brass brutalist light ﬁxtures of the same time period from Holm Sorenson set the stage for the mood in my mind and everything evolved from there.” Robin and Kathy worked for three years to bring the hotel to life, creating a palette that is soft with a thick layer of charm. You almost get the feeling that you are walking into the set of a Wes Anderson film.
Wanting to pay tribute to the vibrant neighborhood where the hotel is located, they worked with a team of local artists to create all the art throughout the hotel. The entire team was also mindful to make sure that they were designing a place that was both comfortable and inclusive to the neighborhood as a whole. East Austin Hotel is locally owned and operated, so crafting a space that is appealing to guests of all ages and backgrounds, much like the neighborhood itself, was a top priority for Kathy and Robin. “East Austin is an energetic, diverse neighborhood filled with street art, colors and textures,” Kathy shares. “It was important to me to carry that energy into our space. I found much of the mid-century furniture in local antique stores. Using authentic pieces adds so much interest.My goal was to create a unique space that is not only inviting, comfortable and fun, but an environment that captures the wonderful, multicultural east Austin vibe.”
Tour the property below to visit the pool and bar, and soak up the fun pink tiles in the bathrooms. Enjoy! —Erin
Image above: “The idea to use the vintage Danish light pendants from Helleroe and Sorenson required sourcing them from all kinds of avenues in order to get the quantity needed for the project. Five pendants that needed to go over thebooths at the Sixth And Waller restaurant required sourcing from five different international sellers, including making arrangementsto purchase one of them from an individual selling one on the Danish equivalent of Craigslist, wiring the money in Kroners and then hoping that the light would make it across the ocean intact,” Robin shares. Photo by Ryann Ford.