Contract - Love by Design: Design-Inspired Romance

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Love by Design: Design-Inspired Romance

11 February, 2010


Spring is in the air—and love is on the brain—as Valentine’s Day finally makes its way around the corner. The holiday, which simultaneously signals we’ve reached the hump of winter, does well to temporarily warm our hearts with notions of romance. But when you’re a designer looking to create space with lasting sex appeal, you’ll need to think “outside the heart-shaped box” to ensure your design doesn’t melt away with the winter snow.

(View more romance-inspiring destinations at TalkContract.com and share with us your own favorite "sexy" designs)

The Color Passion

When designing for romance, color immediately comes to the foreground. While color is highly suggestive and can vary greatly based on personal taste and connotation, certain palettes tend to evoke feelings of sexiness and comfort more than other—namely shades of black, gray, and purple—and are used religiously by designers who dare to venture into the realm of romance.

Hotel Palomar lounge chairThe Hotel Palomar (2009) in Washington, D.C., with interiors by Beverly Hills-based Cheryl Rowley Design, touts a fresh posh sex appeal with vibrant colors. A bright blue-purple upholstered chaise lounge adds a touch of modern Victorian fiction to the space and the crisp white faux fur throws make guests feel like they belong to the red carpet elite.

“We chose a color for the lounge that was right in between an indigo blue and a purple. It had a richness to it—a sense of royalty—and it created a lush atmosphere in the space. Strong colors like that can really lend themselves to a space to create a warmth and richness,” says Cheryl Rowley, principal of Cheryl Rowley Design. “And the beautiful faux furs thrown across the foot of the bed were a very sexy looking element.”

The Palomar also ties in more muted colors to ground the eye and add a sense of comfort. Bronze and sable alligator patterns cover the carpets in the guest rooms, while the case goods feature rich zebra wood and coffee bean finishes. While not typically associated with lust, lighter colors can also be very love-inspiring, according to Rowley, who says that even white can be a romantic element, especially in a resort setting.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las VegasWhile Rowley tends to keep things upbeat and light, Mark Zeff, renowned architect and president of New York-based design consulting firm Zeff Designs, likes to walk on the dark side—literally. “You want to have a very luscious black space. I think black and grey is needed for a sexy environment,” says Zeff.

Zeff’s “dark” philosophy is one that bears credence, as shown by the success of his past projects including New York’s Night (2007), a 72-room upscale boutique hotel that flaunts a monochrome motif and with erotically suggestive wall art, and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas (2009), whose suite-filled towers boast rock star vibes of velvet and leather with deep sexy undertones. (Both destinations made top five on TripAdvisor’s 2010 list of America’s Sexiest Hotels.)

Voyeur SeatingThis dark and sexy theme came again to life in Zeff’s work with Voyeur (2009), a provocatively-styled Hollywood nightclub that draws inspiration from late 19th century London lounges. The space feels like an underground sanctuary, with deep rich hues of brown and hunter green to darken the room. Brass chandeliers and accents do well to contrast with the black leather drapery and form the perfect sophisticated harmony between masculine and feminine elements. The noir taupe-toned wallpaper, featuring filmstrips from an old erotic photo shoot, is brought to life by the old-fashioned photo booth where guests capture their own uninhibited memories.

Light My Fire

While Rowley and Zeff have their own taste when it comes to color, both designers were in agreement that lighting is not only a key elements when it comes to invoking mood, but also one of the most challenging to master. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s the first place you would fail, says Zeff.  Hotel Palomar nightstand with lightingAccording to Rowley, that challenge stems from the need to create varying levels of ambiance and mood. “It’s having the ability to change up the lighting, the ability to turn one thing on and not necessarily everything at the same time,” she says. “Switching different amps and lights in the room to create different moods is very important.”

Rowley says that simple things can go a long way when it comes to lighting, such as installing dimmers to lamps and switches, and even evolving other elements into sources of light. Rowley and her team at the Hotel Palomar designed a simple nightstand, which mimics the look of onyx, from resin panels that actually lights from within to cast a low candle-light glow throughout the room. “The design of the piece was very simple but it did a lot to create mood in the space,” she says.

Lighting, or the lack of, is also particularly important for males, according to Zeff, who says that in his experience males tend to focus more on the big picture, i.e. lighting and mood. “A guy would like to look at a sexy space that was dim and fixed beautifully, so he and his entourage or party can be romantically illuminated and feel that vibe going on,” he says, “while women generally look at subject matter and detail and touch and feel.”

Love’s on the (Luxury) Line

But perhaps the most important element is more about a space’s occupants and how they are allowed to interact with their surroundings by taking them away and alluding to a sexy lifestyle that goes beyond being romantic.

“It’s boring to show the obvious,” says Zeff. “Let’s insinuate the concept. It can’t just be cheesy and obvious. You got to almost lead them by the hand through the experience.”

And what better way to lead someone to a life of luxury than through a story that touches on the taboo. At Night, guests see photographs of the same men and a women throughout the hotel, as if it’s a family that actually lives there in this private space. In some photos the couple was together, in others they were shown individually, and there was some nudity involved.

This fine line between intimacy and transparency is yet another challenge for designers, says Rowley, who has been working on more designs that feature innovative ways to open up the link between the bedroom and the bathroom in resorts. Such added exposure via peek-a-boo views or even outdoor baths and showers create not only a luxurious note but also give a touch of romantic sensibility and a sexy vibe to a space.

“In creating this kind of more luxurious open space, you’re challenged by the amount of privacy you have to create,” she says. “You want to make sure that you’re covering the needs of the guests by offering the proper amount of privacy. It’s not all about show and this design statement that you’re trying to make and making sure the space actually works for people.”

Zeff refers to this line between sexy and over-sexed as “comfort with a twist.” He stays away from the Bourdreaux and believes sexiness is better served via “penthouse, way up there in the sky, very discreet, and very high-end” design. Having the right amount of privacy, with touches of taboo, will make guests feel sure and confident enough to free themselves and walk on the wild side, but finding that perfect recipe between classy and suggestive is harder than it looks.

“It’s not like you can blow up a picture of a nude guy or a nude girl and put it on the wall and it’ll be a sexy room. No, it doesn’t work like that,” urges Zeff. “Sexy spaces or romantic spaces work because of the people that are in them. If you don’t have anybody in it or have beautiful people coming to it, it loses its point for being there.” If the design exudes comfort while giving a sense of empowerment, they will come.




Love by Design: Design-Inspired Romance

11 February, 2010


Spring is in the air—and love is on the brain—as Valentine’s Day finally makes its way around the corner. The holiday, which simultaneously signals we’ve reached the hump of winter, does well to temporarily warm our hearts with notions of romance. But when you’re a designer looking to create space with lasting sex appeal, you’ll need to think “outside the heart-shaped box” to ensure your design doesn’t melt away with the winter snow.

(View more romance-inspiring destinations at TalkContract.com and share with us your own favorite "sexy" designs)

The Color Passion

When designing for romance, color immediately comes to the foreground. While color is highly suggestive and can vary greatly based on personal taste and connotation, certain palettes tend to evoke feelings of sexiness and comfort more than other—namely shades of black, gray, and purple—and are used religiously by designers who dare to venture into the realm of romance.

Hotel Palomar lounge chairThe Hotel Palomar (2009) in Washington, D.C., with interiors by Beverly Hills-based Cheryl Rowley Design, touts a fresh posh sex appeal with vibrant colors. A bright blue-purple upholstered chaise lounge adds a touch of modern Victorian fiction to the space and the crisp white faux fur throws make guests feel like they belong to the red carpet elite.

“We chose a color for the lounge that was right in between an indigo blue and a purple. It had a richness to it—a sense of royalty—and it created a lush atmosphere in the space. Strong colors like that can really lend themselves to a space to create a warmth and richness,” says Cheryl Rowley, principal of Cheryl Rowley Design. “And the beautiful faux furs thrown across the foot of the bed were a very sexy looking element.”

The Palomar also ties in more muted colors to ground the eye and add a sense of comfort. Bronze and sable alligator patterns cover the carpets in the guest rooms, while the case goods feature rich zebra wood and coffee bean finishes. While not typically associated with lust, lighter colors can also be very love-inspiring, according to Rowley, who says that even white can be a romantic element, especially in a resort setting.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las VegasWhile Rowley tends to keep things upbeat and light, Mark Zeff, renowned architect and president of New York-based design consulting firm Zeff Designs, likes to walk on the dark side—literally. “You want to have a very luscious black space. I think black and grey is needed for a sexy environment,” says Zeff.

Zeff’s “dark” philosophy is one that bears credence, as shown by the success of his past projects including New York’s Night (2007), a 72-room upscale boutique hotel that flaunts a monochrome motif and with erotically suggestive wall art, and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas (2009), whose suite-filled towers boast rock star vibes of velvet and leather with deep sexy undertones. (Both destinations made top five on TripAdvisor’s 2010 list of America’s Sexiest Hotels.)

Voyeur SeatingThis dark and sexy theme came again to life in Zeff’s work with Voyeur (2009), a provocatively-styled Hollywood nightclub that draws inspiration from late 19th century London lounges. The space feels like an underground sanctuary, with deep rich hues of brown and hunter green to darken the room. Brass chandeliers and accents do well to contrast with the black leather drapery and form the perfect sophisticated harmony between masculine and feminine elements. The noir taupe-toned wallpaper, featuring filmstrips from an old erotic photo shoot, is brought to life by the old-fashioned photo booth where guests capture their own uninhibited memories.

Light My Fire

While Rowley and Zeff have their own taste when it comes to color, both designers were in agreement that lighting is not only a key elements when it comes to invoking mood, but also one of the most challenging to master. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s the first place you would fail, says Zeff.  Hotel Palomar nightstand with lightingAccording to Rowley, that challenge stems from the need to create varying levels of ambiance and mood. “It’s having the ability to change up the lighting, the ability to turn one thing on and not necessarily everything at the same time,” she says. “Switching different amps and lights in the room to create different moods is very important.”

Rowley says that simple things can go a long way when it comes to lighting, such as installing dimmers to lamps and switches, and even evolving other elements into sources of light. Rowley and her team at the Hotel Palomar designed a simple nightstand, which mimics the look of onyx, from resin panels that actually lights from within to cast a low candle-light glow throughout the room. “The design of the piece was very simple but it did a lot to create mood in the space,” she says.

Lighting, or the lack of, is also particularly important for males, according to Zeff, who says that in his experience males tend to focus more on the big picture, i.e. lighting and mood. “A guy would like to look at a sexy space that was dim and fixed beautifully, so he and his entourage or party can be romantically illuminated and feel that vibe going on,” he says, “while women generally look at subject matter and detail and touch and feel.”

Love’s on the (Luxury) Line

But perhaps the most important element is more about a space’s occupants and how they are allowed to interact with their surroundings by taking them away and alluding to a sexy lifestyle that goes beyond being romantic.

“It’s boring to show the obvious,” says Zeff. “Let’s insinuate the concept. It can’t just be cheesy and obvious. You got to almost lead them by the hand through the experience.”

And what better way to lead someone to a life of luxury than through a story that touches on the taboo. At Night, guests see photographs of the same men and a women throughout the hotel, as if it’s a family that actually lives there in this private space. In some photos the couple was together, in others they were shown individually, and there was some nudity involved.

This fine line between intimacy and transparency is yet another challenge for designers, says Rowley, who has been working on more designs that feature innovative ways to open up the link between the bedroom and the bathroom in resorts. Such added exposure via peek-a-boo views or even outdoor baths and showers create not only a luxurious note but also give a touch of romantic sensibility and a sexy vibe to a space.

“In creating this kind of more luxurious open space, you’re challenged by the amount of privacy you have to create,” she says. “You want to make sure that you’re covering the needs of the guests by offering the proper amount of privacy. It’s not all about show and this design statement that you’re trying to make and making sure the space actually works for people.”

Zeff refers to this line between sexy and over-sexed as “comfort with a twist.” He stays away from the Bourdreaux and believes sexiness is better served via “penthouse, way up there in the sky, very discreet, and very high-end” design. Having the right amount of privacy, with touches of taboo, will make guests feel sure and confident enough to free themselves and walk on the wild side, but finding that perfect recipe between classy and suggestive is harder than it looks.

“It’s not like you can blow up a picture of a nude guy or a nude girl and put it on the wall and it’ll be a sexy room. No, it doesn’t work like that,” urges Zeff. “Sexy spaces or romantic spaces work because of the people that are in them. If you don’t have anybody in it or have beautiful people coming to it, it loses its point for being there.” If the design exudes comfort while giving a sense of empowerment, they will come.

 


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