Sam Nazarian, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based SBE Entertainment, wanted a hotel that was “romantic, soulful, imperfect and funky." In short, he wanted the ultimate hangout for the young and creative, explains Matthew Rolston, photographer and director-cum-designer for The Redbury.
“On this project, I acted as its creative/brand director,” he says. “Sam Nazarian had seen an advertising concept that I'd created for the city of Las Vegas. He was also very familiar with my work as a music video and television commercial director.” Nazarian acquired the space from its original developer in a nearly completed state, but wanted to revamp its aesthetic.
“Mr. Nazarian wanted to put his own stamp on the place,” says Rolston. “My assignment was to work with as much of the existing conditions as possible, or at least adapt to them. He asked me to review every aspect from naming to brand positioning, color codes to employee costumes—literally every aspect from the landscape to the soundscape to the scentscape to the fire escape."
The Redbury’s ambiance evokes the warmth of a townhouse but infuses this sensation with something edgier, evoking historic Hollywood as well as a touch of who-gives-a-damn, rock n’ roll chic.
“It is, after all, at the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine, directly across the street from the iconic Capitol Records building,” says Rolston.
The guest room decor channels an eccentric aunt’s boudoir featuring a kaleidoscope of colors and materials. While crimson is the predominant hue of the property, which creates a dark sexy undertone, playful armchairs, patterned quilts and helter-skelter framed ephemera counter it perfectly.
“There's a vaguely Victorian-era English-inspired quality to many of the materials and furnishings, such as hand-screened, elaborate paisley wallpapers, distressed leathers and linens, antique style cotton velvets, pleated silk lampshades, moss fringe trimmings, etc.,” says Rolston.
“There's also an early Industrial-era inspiration, utilizing painted steel and glass factory-type windows, exposed HVAC duct work, both oiled and antique brass and bronze finishes, and nickel plating.”
Rolston supported his choices in fabrics and furnishings with meticulous lighting design, drawing upon his subtle understanding of light as a photographer.
He filled the space with a generous mixture of decorative lamps like sconces, pendants and chandeliers as well as varying light sources—halogen, LED and Edison-esque filament bulbs all find their way into the hotel to achieve just the right effects.
“The hotel, hopefully, exudes a warm, seductive, and inviting atmosphere, and that is supported by the lighting design from signature wall-size back-lit photo murals, to illuminated walls themselves,” says Rolston.
Practicalities were also brought into focus, with careful attempts to counter acoustical challenges both within the hotel as well as the Redbury’s new Mediterranean restaurant, Cleo.
“In the two-story high entrance hall there is an enormous theater-style velvet curtain that rises over 18 feet,” says Rolston. “It helps to balance sound reflections from the black-and-white checkered marble floor. A collection of antique-style Turkish and Persian carpets and other so-called ethnic textiles were used in the interior design and help to reduce reflected sound levels.
The restaurant and bar include a great many soft furnishings, upholstered in cotton velvet, and features another enormous pair of 18-foot velvet theater curtains.“
Cleo, helmed by executive chef Daniel Elmaleh, serves up traditional tapas as well as seafood from the raw bar amid a lengthy menu of creative cocktails.
Cleo echoes the famous 1917 film starring Theda Bara as the kohl-eyed Cleopatra, whose giant crimson-colored photo peers out over the bar countered by more rustic wooden floors, sage green velvet armchairs and a bistro-esque chalkboard touting the daily specials.
Like every other detail within the boutique hotel, The Redbury was named with care and consideration, and, no, not just because it was scarlet red at purchase.
“The naming of the property is its most powerful branding device," says Rolston. "The word Redbury is reminiscent of 'Ashbury,' as in Haight-Ashbury, thereby evoking images of a hippie-era bohemian eclecticism.”