Imagine the quintessential contemporary Los Angeles hotel, and it might look something like the new Kimpton La Peer. From the street, the elegant building's clean lines and tile-clad façade evoke the classic Art Deco designs of Southern California architect Stiles O. Clements, who designed the Wiltern Theater and the Eastern Columbia Building. Yet inside, an undulating wall-mounted topographical map of Los Angeles behind a sensuous liquid-metal reception desk gives the hotel a distinctive contemporary character. Add site-specific works by Los Angeles artists Tanya Aguiniga, Guerin Swing, Elena Manferdini and Retna, and you have a destination hotel whose every thoughtful detail seems to say "Welcome to L.A."
For the past three years Los Angeles-based architect Gulla Jonsdottir has been overseeing the interior design of the 105-room hotel, which opened in January. Located on a narrow tree-lined street nestled between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue, the ground-up project is one of few hotels in West Hollywood's Design District. Eager to "resonate to the pulse" of neighbors and prominent Los Angeles designers such as Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Kelly Wearstler and Commune, Jonsdottir says she wanted to create a hotel "where art, music, fashion, poetry, film and architecture intertwine within a context of spatial harmony."
For Jonsdottir, no detail is too small to overlook. Indeed, she designed the striking reception desk and the three-dimensional map of Los Angeles on the wall behind it. A Poliform sofa and chairs invite guests to linger before being transported in elevators swathed in hand-painted wallcoverings by Japanese graphic artist Kahori Maki. (Her work also graces the ceilings of the first-floor restrooms). In the lobby, Richard Serra-like concrete sculptures create privacy and separate the sun-drenched lounge area from the hotel entrance.
A designer who loves to play with texture, Jonsdottir installed leather tiles on the curvaceous walls and ceiling of the lounge to "hug you in." Leather furnishings from Baxter and Moroso and clubby sofas and ottomans from Saba Italia encourage guests to sit down, work or enjoy something from the neighboring bar. Sculptural side tables by Zanotta, Skram and the Phillips Collection impart an organic feel, and a variety of lighting—from Henge sconces to Foscarini and Italamp pieces to a custom chandelier—casts a warm glow. Mixed in among the artworks are coffee-table books on fashion, art and architecture hand-picked by Jonsdottir; lacquered-aluminum wire planters by Point 1920 and custom tables and rugs by Jonsdottir round out the space. If it feels residential, that's intentional. "I wanted the hotel to feel like a home in the Hollywood Hills," says Jonsdottir.
In an effort to highlight the work of the neighborhood's world-class design community, Jonsdottir chose furnishings and accessories from Mass Beverly, Niche Beverly, Poltrona Frau, H. D. Buttercup and floral designer Eric Buterbaugh, among others. But the creative details don't stop there. In the breezeway leading out to the pool, a neon artwork by Christopher Wilcox is mounted on exposed board-form concrete across from a poetry wall that Jonsdottir calls Trapped Love. There Wilcox has mounted discarded love letters from the 1930s in encased plastic. For Jonsdottir, art is her ultimate inspiration. "I always put art first," she says. "I want people to feel the energy of the art."
Walls of glass open from the lobby to a pool and the outdoor bar and lounge areas. Green Gaudi tiles from Spain adorn the wall behind the bar, while crustacean-like pendants illuminate the walnut bartop. At night, lanterns suspended from olive trees create a warm glow in an intimate courtyard. For contrast, a collaborative graffiti wall installation between Guerin Swing and the street artist Retna offers a counterpoint to the elegant furnishings by Roda, Kettal, Branca and Roberti Rattan. At the far end of the lobby, chef Casey Lane's Viale dei Romani restaurant (designed by Parts and Labor Design) has the feel of a Parisian café, with blue tile and cozy mustard-colored velvet banquettes.
More surprises await in the guest rooms, where room numbers are designed to look like price tags (a nod to the Pacific Design Center and other design showrooms nearby), and a gold Jeff Koons balloon rabbit sits on every bedside table. The palette in the rooms is neutral, but the details are strong: Pale custom tiles in geometric patterns line the walls of the bathrooms; freestanding bathtubs are obscured behind frosted glass; geometric pendant lights designed by Jonsdottir add an architectural element.
"Our strategic goal at the Kimpton La Peer is simple," says general manager Nick Rimedio. "We want to become an anchor of the Design District, L.A.'s most walkable neighborhood, where visitors and residents alike experience the sense of an oasis, a haven that feels like home." That haven is actually a contemporary take on other vernacular courtyard buildings in Hollywood and West Hollywood. "It draws on some wonderful veins of architecture that were present in California in the 1920s and 1930s," says the building's architect, Elizabeth Moule, of Pasadena-based Moule & Polyzoides. "There are a lot beautiful courtyard and middle-density buildings in Hollywood. It's a long tradition we wanted to continue."
And while some hotels feel like a busy airport the minute you pull up, the La Peer exudes a sense of repose. "A lot of luxury is based upon privacy and quiet," says Moule. "We wanted it to be a very concentrated and immersive experience. We wanted people to know when they wake up in the morning that they are in L.A." Adds Jonsdottir: "When you walk in, you know it's not New York."
Kimpton La Peer Hotel
627 N. La Peer Drive, West Hollywood