Quantcast

Interiorssneak peeks

In Austin, A Hotel Reminiscent of A Wes Anderson Film Set

by Erin Austen Abbott

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

Photography by Ryann Ford / @ryann_ford and Adam Moroz / @adammorozphotography

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 the booths at the Sixth And Waller restaurant required sourcing from five different international sellers, including making arrangements to 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.

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
1/10

“We wanted to add warmth and sense of place in time as a layer to the clean lines of the architecture created by Rhode Architects. Hopefully, the hotel feels like stepping into the home of a favorite, well-traveled great aunt’s house. Familiar and classic elements from many cultures and time periods. Inspired by the vivid coloring and bold color blocks of Wes Anderson movie sets, the multi-colored ribbon style artwork of Polish artist Jan Lenica and the great vibe of 1960s and 70s. Add some traditional mid-century Danish design, vintage ceramic light fixtures, plus an amazing collection of Brutalist pendants and curtain fabric with signature hotel colors and patterns,” Robin shares.

Photo by Ryann Ford

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
2/10

A corner from the grab-and-go counter in the hotel.

Photo by Adam Moroz

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
3/10

“Art is an important part of the experience of this property. We started with the outside by having Jason Eatherly, a local mural artist, paint two large walls. We took inspiration from Wes Anderson and used dramatic pink columns to set the stage for our mid-century vibe. All of the interior artwork was created by local Austin artist Nancy Johnson,” Kathy shares. 

Photo by Ryann Ford

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
4/10

The pool bar brings all the elements of the hotel together in one place… pops of color, vintage made to withstand the traffic, and bar lights that create a focal point.

Photo by Ryann Ford

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
5/10

A look at the pool side rooms and Pool Bar, overlooking the pool.

Photo by Ryann Ford

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
6/10

The most challenging parts [of the design process] were creating a unified space with distinct differences between the outlets, public spaces and hotel rooms. With our diverse offerings of rooms, I think there are very few hotels that can both accommodate and appeal to such a wide range of clients,” Kathy says.

Photo by Ryann Ford

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
7/10

Designing the fabric and styles for the hotel robes was great fun. Each hotel room is outfitted with a robe and a caftan and the process of refining the dimensions of these garments included multiple sessions of having a diverse size range of people trying them on. Most notably, explaining what a caftan is to the general contractor of the hotel construction and having him try on and model it was truly a comedic break in the long months of pre-launch,” Robin shares.

Photo by Ryann Ford

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
8/10

“By far, the most rewarding parts of the design process are having a wild idea about an element to include in the project and then watching how it informs the entire process and becomes the key design narrative. For this project, examples of that are the decision to use pink tile in all of the restrooms and then the relentless pursuit of finding enough stock to cover that idea. The design and redesign of the tile layouts to accommodate a shortage of inventory of that pink tile was part of the fun of blending the fantasy + reality of the design process. Working with hotel projects differs from residential ones because you are creating an environment that has to hold up to high traffic and you have to source the materials that allow you to replicate the vision in numerous rooms. In a home, when you have [to] create [an] idea for a bathroom, you install it one time. In a hotel project, that idea has to be installed 50…60…100 times,” Robin reveals. 

Photo by Ryann Ford

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
9/10

In the restaurant we needed a strong composition that would be interesting from the outside street but have enough detail to interest our diners in the room,” Kathy begins. “Custom tiled tables are made by craftsman Tom O’Neill who also built the Moroccan tiled community tables in The Upside Bar. The bar has a global feel with Moroccan poufs and worldly textiles creating a unique experience.”

Photo by Ryann Ford

East Austin Hotel on Design*Sponge
10/10

The exterior design of the East Austin Hotel.

Photo by Ryann Ford

Suggested For You

Comments

  • That pink tile bar is stunning. Loving this vibe! Austin is such a great city, clearly I need to go back!

    xo Jessica

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.

x