We are always looking for different ways to connect people in this industry, and last year I dreamt up the idea of putting 50 people on a bus to tour the newest and greatest in New York (I mean the double-deckers in the city are always packed) with insight from the creative minds behind them. I wasn’t sure if others would find it as much fun as I hoped it would be, but it turned out to be a hit. This year we were at it again, this time in Brooklyn (full disclosure: I live there and selfishly wanted to show off the cool places in my hood) and three amazing projects. Two are HD Awards finalists, and all were featured in the recent issue of HD.
Thank you to our sponsors: Bernhardt Hospitality, Brizo, Durkan, Jaclo, Kevin Barry Fine Art, Kravet Contract, P/Kaufmann Contract, Preciosa, RH Contract, Samuelson, and Walters, for making it a great day.
First stop: Williamsburg’s William Vale hotel, designed by Studio Munge with architecture by Albo Liberis. We kicked it off with lunch at the hotel’s ground floor restaurant Leuca, chef Andrew Carmellini’s newest Southern Italian standout (the burrata and chicken were to die for) where the designers wrapped the space in warm wood and photos of a precocious little girl (with her tongue sticking out, in aviator sunglasses, etc.). Italian born Alessandro Munge, founder of Studio Munge, explained it was his ode to the cafés in Italy.
Next, we split into groups to go tour the rest of the urban resort where it’s all about accenting the hotel’s heady views of Manhattan—from its own park complete with rolling hills and a food truck from Carmellini, to the minimalist, clean guestrooms, and rooftop lounge Westlight (which is topped with an open-air, turf-covered event space).
We all loaded the bus to head to the next stop a mere five blocks away: A/D/O coworking space and Norman restaurant (created by Fredrik Berselius of Aska and Claus Meyer of Great Northern Food Hall and Agern). Located in a 23,000-square-foot former warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s Industrial Business Zone, its named after the designers of the Mini car, which makes sense as it is a new initiative by BMW (parent company of Mini) to tap the creative minds in Brooklyn. With a glass of wine in hand, we got a look at the open and airy design by locally based firm nArchitects (think light woods and expansive windows), and check out the space’s gallery, retail area, public hangout space, member-only workstations, fabrication lab, and startup accelerator.
A little longer bus ride (with refreshments of course, some in sippy cups) and we ended up at the last but not least stop: the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo. We were fortunate to get a true behind-the-scenes look at the sustainable marvel from Starwood Capital’s in-house team of Kemper Hyers and Waad El Hadidy and the team at INC Architecture & Design.
Set on the Brooklyn Bridge Park, the hotel is one with its location. The lobby staircase and stone pillars speak to the nearby bridge; windows in event space and guestrooms pull away to let the outside in; and plants—including a living wall in the lobby and a landscaped rooftop done by the same landscape architects who did the park—give a true sense of nature. And sustainable details pervade every inch of the space: materials (oh are there so many layers of materials) are sourced within 500 miles—some furniture is made from wood pallets used during construction, artist installations reuse materials and speak to the power of nature, even the key fob is made of wood and rooms feature their own filtered water.
We ended the day with cocktails and noshes and great conversation in the 1 Hotel’s event space. Many asked if we could do this everyday, and I don’t disagree, but dayjobs prevail. I can’t wait till next year.