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Soft Sells

(March 2017) posted on Wed Mar 29, 2017

Today’s coolest hotel collections and soft brands make superb styling and experiential expertise their book of standards. This trendsetting trio shows how.


By Oriana Lerner

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That meant sitting down with the design team to hash out a multi-pronged strategy for the 68-key hotel’s interiors that layered in elements to craft a demographic and psychographic-crossing cool. First up, according to George Yabu, co-founder Yabu Pushelberg, was adding a narrative context. “We re-imagined this site by developing a fictional narrative of a family that has lived there for generations. So, the original farmhouse becomes the social center, with other more modern out-buildings that appear to have been added over time,” says Yabu. Adds co-founder Glenn Pushelberg: “Interconnected pathways meander throughout, offering a connection to both nature and to the various amenities. Each imagined generation is alive in the architectural language of the buildings and in the collections of objects and photos housed within them.”

Yabu Pushelberg
Glenn Pushelberg and George Yabu, Yabu Pushelberg. Photo: Raina and Wilson

The buildings each evoke a different chapter in the area’s history, from the past of the historic farmhouse through the current wine country references of the barns to the “future” of contemporary structures that house the guest rooms. The materials palette is similarly diverse, including aged cedar, stonework and metal railings.

It’s also time for designers to take a more theoretical view of what makes an authentic experience. Napa Valley’s cosmopolitan past gave Leizorek the key to marrying global sourcing (many of the raw materials were found in Europe) with a California vibe. “It’s more about capturing the feeling of the place than strictly where the elements come from,” he says.



That’s especially true when that feeling is spread over an entire site instead of a self-contained hotel. And, as Yabu notes, the actual site is compact, so there’s a certain amount of trompe l’oeil called for. Glass walls around the pool turn the landscape into an art piece. The outdoor pathways that take the place of hallways provide a natural link between building and land. Call it organic design. No preservatives required.

Hotel La Comtesse
Elegancia Hotels | Paris

Every guest walking into the Hausmannian building that’s now the Hotel La Comtesse is on the fictional noblewoman’s invite list. The Elegancia Hotels member property, like its branded boutique peers (think Room Mate Hotels) puts its stock firmly in the idea of a presiding personality for the hotel’s design and identity—especially key for a soft brand where there’s no overarching corporate roadmap.


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