Schoos Design was asked to convert this former Radisson hotel into a boutique style property with a fresher, more worldly appeal.  Thomas thought it was important to bring reminders of the beachfront atmosphere into the hotel, even though the beach is actually three blocks away.  But since Santa Monica is also a destination for travelers from all over the world, he wanted to bring textures and artifacts from many cultures. 

The makeover of both the hotel and the penthouse restaurant has won many design awards and was featured in Architectural Digest.

The first modification was to tone down the ornamentation of the front facade by covering some sections with cool pieces of etched glass and replacing the dated awning with simple curtains.  Since white curtains remind one of beach cabanas or spas, this design element is repeated throughout the hotel to bring a more casual, beachy feel.

The dark, conservative decor in the lobby was replaced with exotic pieces from around the world, including tribal African pieces, wood pedestals from Thailand and wood consoles from Java.  The space was lightened with reflective Venetian plaster on the ceiling.  Large day beds with fluffy cushions lend a sensual, luxurious feel.

Another way to reflect light in the lobby was to lean large framed mirrors against the walls.  White furniture pieces also brighten the space and remind one of a solarium or garden room.

After first meeting some resistance ("you want to do what?"), the white fish wall has become an iconic symbol for the hotel, featured in much of the press and promotional materials. The idea was to plunge the lobby underwater by having a school of fish actually swimming through it. The fact that the fish are piranha just gives the gesture a bit more bite.

More reminders of the seashore come in the form of weathered wood pieces, reminiscent of driftwood. 

One of the first physical contacts one has with a hotel is at the front desk, and Thomas wanted guests to touch and feel an exotic relic of the sea in this first encounter.  A strip of stingray shagreen (skin) is mounted in the middle of a warm leather desktop, becoming a conversation piece as well as a beautiful accent.

Various custom furniture pieces in the hotel include nautical references, such as this seashell chair in the lobby and the dolphin fin chair in the penthouse restaurant.

Dark driftwood pieces and other relics of the sea are included at the front desk and on each floor, greeting guests in the elevator bays.  Recurring natural artifacts include these sea fans which are dipped in silver.

A cabana vibe is even brought to mundane areas such as the valet parking area, with white draperies and beach-style deck furniture.

The cabana concept is even continued in the penthouse restaurant with these moveable private cabana booths with sheer curtains.  In this case, a more elegant touch is added through the use of white Murano chandeliers in each cabana.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the penthouse restaurant is the fresh air that enters through a large functional skylight in the lounge area, bringing ocean breezes into the environment even though it is at the top of a high-rise building.  As a contrast, Schoos added a large open fireplace with double-wide Queen Anne style chairs, allowing guests to snuggle in warmth while enjoying fresh salt air.  In keeping with the marine theme, the iridescent wall covering behind the fireplace is made from abalone shells.

By complimenting the breathtaking shoreline views beyond, the simplicity and elegance of the penthouse restaurant succeeds in bringing a soothing beach vibe up to the 18th floor.

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