Boutique Design, November 2014: "Shelborne Reborn"
February 8, 2015
"The day they got the joint commission for what would become Miami Beach's Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach, Meg Sharpe of Meg Sharpe Interiors and Richard Mishaan of Richard Mishaan Design were highly cognizant that they were working in a land of the giants. Originally opened in 1940, this Collins Avenue landmark bears the imprint of two design legends: it was created by art deco architect Igor Polevitzky, and updated in the 1950s by none other that Morris Lapidus, he of Fontainbleau fame. With that kind of legacy, the design direction was obvious.
'This project demanded more of a curation than any creation, more of a restoration than a redesign,' says Sharpe, who was tasked with updating most of the hotel's public spaces. 'We wanted to expose and enhance the incredible bones in the foundation laid by Polevitzky and Lapidus. We sought to evoke the iconic glamour of the 1940s and '50s, while updating it to meet modern needs.'
Similarly, Mishaan-- who was brought in to work on the hotel's guest rooms and suites, corridors, meeting spaces and ballrooms-- says, 'Bringing Shelborne to a new life meant abandoning the most recent palette, which was a monochromatic white that felt cold and sterile. From there, we worked to give the spaces a connection to hotel's rich history, while also adding a fresh look with a lot of oomph.'
The impetus for the latest update to this 200-key icon, which participants say carried a $280 million price tag, comes as the result of confluence of forces that included Wyndham Hotel Group taking over the property's management in February 2013 and the hotel's longtime owner, the Galbut family, bringing in the Flag Luxury Group as a co-owner.
'Shelborne's history is so rich and beautiful, we couldn't resist the opportunity to restore this property to its rightful glory,' says Flag Luxury Group president Dayssi Olarte de Kavanos.
Both Mishaan and Sharpe say adding some visual warmth to the hotel was key to that process. 'From the finish of the metals to the textures of the fabrics and the palette of the stones, we really wanted to echo the richness of the original design intent,' says Sharpe. As a result, the biggest change she made was to the terrazzo flooring.
'We found an old patch of salmon pink terrazzo from the original floor and worked to replicate that throughout the spaces we worked on. We really wanted to bring back the drama and glamour of a flooring pattern inspired by the incredible geometry of the art deco era. Lapidus was also particularly fond of diamonds, so we incorporated that shape in the patterns.'
In addition, the designers stripped away all the moulding details in the spaces. 'That revealed the clean and streamlined look that would have been there when the hotel first opened,' Sharpe says.
The designers' desire to add vibrancy is also reflected in such spaces as the Drawing Room bar and the Library Lounge. Sharpe outfitted the lounge with curved, spicy burnt-orange banquettes and matching bookcases, while the bar features Polevitzky-designed hexagonal columns that were uncovered during the renovation. 'Here we used heavier fabric textures and hide patterns to create a variety of very cozy and comfortable seating arrangements,' Sharpe says.
Mishaan, meantime, said he sought to rev up the appeal of guest rooms by evoking the curvaceous cars of the 1950s in the headboards and elsewhere. 'We wanted the beds to be sexy, and since cars in the 1950s were becoming even more aerodynamic thanks to their sensual curves, this created the look we were seeking.'
A car-related touch is also integrated into the penthouse suite Mishaan created. 'I fell in love with soft golds, blues, and greens of the 1950s. They felt glamourous, and we made them pop with a dramatic black and white rug that looks like a tire tread.' The corridors continue to play with that theme. Guest room doors lacquered with bronze metallic car paint and lamps resemble headlights. Those various elements work together to transport guests to what the designers describe as a 'vintage vogue' experience.
The renovation's backers say they are thrilled with the result of Mishaan's and Sharpe's efforts. 'This new space reflects its old-school glamour and opulence, while also incorporating the modern-day comforts and conveniences of Wyndham Grand Hotels and Resorts, melding the best of both eras into one extraordinary destination,' says Flag Luxury Group's Olarte de Kanavos.
Those sentiments are echoed by George Scammell, Wyndham Worldwide's vice president of global design, development planning, and construction,who says the work of the designers 'has been integral to creating a distinctive, elegant environment that complements this unique hotel and will exceed our guests' expectations.'"