Daroff Design brings midcentury aesthetic to Universal’s Cabana Bay

Daroff Design showcased Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the newest addition to the Universal Studios hotel cluster in Orlando, Fla. For the property, the design team is said to have captured a midcentury era in a family-oriented resort.

Daroff Design collaborated with Miami-based architecture firm Shulman + Associates on the project.

According to designer Karen Daroff, founder of Daroff Design, inspirations for the property came from America’s many roadside motels, and midcentury beach resorts on Miami’s Golden Mile. Architect Morris Lapidus, known for designing the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels in the 1950s, also provided additional influence.


Like this story? Subscribe to Hotel Design!

Hospitality professionals turn to Hotel Design as their go-to news source for the latest products, projects, and trends for hotel interior designers and architects. Sign up today to get news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

The lobby’s 50-foot-high palm tree enclosure echoes the Americana Hotel’s terrarium. Atop carpets adorned with a motif inspired by Cape Coral, Florida’s Starlight Diner, sofas allude to Vladimir Kagan’s 1960s design with a serpentine shape. Other floor patterns reference exterior Portuguese paving patterns found at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, a popular motif during the midcentury period.

Contemporary materials like resin were used for the backlit lobby bar and echo the signage of roadside hotels. Along with vinyl seating, plastic laminate with wood or metal trim for the millwork continue the motif.

The 600-seat Bayliner Diner also celebrates the era by running vintage films. There are four food stations surrounding a kidney-shaped island with several self-serve stations. The dining room is filled with aqua vinyl booths and orange Eames chairs. Two pairs of sky blue, acoustically treated boomerang and guitar pick-shaped light coves complement the bright colors in the large space. Four wood-grained towers of two stories each anchor the room at either end and define the circulation path.

The midcentury aesthetic continues in the resort’s 900 family suites and 900 double queen guestrooms. All millwork and casework surfaces are plastic laminate with wood edges; and the furniture, done in a palette of bright blue and orange, has a 1950s air. A storage cabinet, accessible from two sides, is incorporated into a wood grain thermofoil- and linen-textured resin partition wall with a sliding barn door, which separates the living area from the bedroom.