It is the most densely populated district in the most densely populated city in the country. Two-thirds of its residents were born outside of the United States. It also has the city's highest concentration of restaurants, bars, and insomniac late night action – more than 500 "nightlife" establishments by The New York Times count.
And now with Sean's reimagining of the The Line, the neighborhood is finally getting a world-class hotel worthy of its throbbing intensity
It was an extraordinary move by the hotel's developer The Sydell Group to place the majority of the design of the hotel all under the hat of one designer – something that rarely happens, especially in projects of this depth and scale. The backers were looking for an extraordinary hotel experience and knew they'd found it at Knibb Design.
In the end Sean has no regrets about any of the design decisions he made. He was able to do much what his initial designs proposed to do – a rare enough happenstance with clients in general but extraordinary for a client with the dimension and reputation of The Sydell Group. Often was the case that Sean was able to proceed to construction without design approval.
The Sydell team of developers envisioned The Line as part of a new generation of lifestyle hotels. What Sean presented was a concept to take the building (originally constructed for Hyatt in 1964) down to its original industrial finish, exploit the beauty of the natural materials – including making extensive use of natural light – and continue this aesthetic throughout. He would do this through the exploitation of both existing and new materials. These materials would include a play on the traditional –plywood, raw concrete, acoustic finished ceilings, custom made furniture and carpets – to the downright eccentric – t-shirts, burlap, animal hide-shaped throw rugs, Mexican blankets, mylar balloons. The diversity of color and constituent materials were kept strategically limited. Sean believed in “the simplification of material”: Rather than using materials to connote luxury, he used materials not often associated with high status and would elevate them through luxurious recontextualization. In this way the effect of the material becomes subliminal. Here, design celebrates the often overlooked, everyday material and brings the process of the building's history and construction into the story.
As to that story, it's a tale that begins before guests even step inside the lobby doors. You see it in the vegetables growing as ornamentals in the motor court and in the black enameled shopping cart chandelier hanging above the stark slab-like parking kiosk. Moving inside, the tale unfolds with the twilight blues of the benches and booths, the sunset oranges of the wood chairs and barstools, the soft round edges of the benches meeting hexagonal beehive outlines of the lounge conversation areas. Embedded overhead are t-shirts applied flat to the ceiling fresco style, alluding both to the area's history as a fashion district and the ubiquitous casual uniform of the tourist. On the border of the lounge area guests are lead under a soffit edged in an ombré of t-shirts, this time stacked, in hues reminiscent of a Pacific sunset – a covered path that leads to the Pot restaurant's entrance at the end of the room.
Sean arranges colors and materials together like a choirmaster. Each layer important in its own individual role but bringing something greater when they all sing together. In music this is called “the fifth voice,” that magic other voice that happens when all the voices blend together. For Sean that fifth voice is about the comfort. For all of the interplay and interconnection of the elements, every choice of color and material, every form and shape and object, all of it is designed with the intention of bringing a spirit of comfort. The elements acting in harmony to bring the guest in deeper into the experience of the space rather than keeping them at a remote distance. This is not a corporate lobby, it's living room blown up to a lobby's scale. This is not home but a vision of what a home can be.
Enter the hotel and you'll feel it immediately: You are welcome here.