At Home With Nature
Heading from New Orleans to Miami for a short break, I had the privilege of staying at 1 Hotel South Beach - one of the latest hotels designed Will Meyer and Gray Davis of Meyer Davis Studio. I walked out of the taxi and stepped into the peaceful and appeasing lobby and was simply embraced by it - it was as if I was walking into a gigantic spa. Each detail intends to bring the outside in, creating a unique natural environment. I was instantly embraced by old washed wood, natural fibers, and indirect lighting.
I noticed a sign by the main door: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), I knew it is one of the most popular green building certifications but what does it tell me beside a label? How is sustainable design implemented in South Beach, known for its eccentricity and excess?
As designers, I believe environmentally conscious design should be our priority and we have a responsibility to invite our clients to this new field. Let’s walk through this amazing project and understand how 1 Hotel defines sustainable design and why it felt so good on my mind and body.
Greens feels good! The first thing you’ll notice in the hotel is all of the plants, which are seemingly everywhere - on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, and potted in the bright, airy lobby. These botanical installations are designed by Plant the Future, which is more art gallery than florist.
The furniture embraced the concept of bringing nature in. I was blown away by the large reception desk’s live edge oak top resting on a gnarled teak-root base alongside a jungle of real greenery looms.
One thing I loved was how few direct lights were used. Usually hotels and restaurants are overcrowded with all kinds of lights. In the 1 Hotel, all the lights used are LED which produce light with less electricity. The 1 Hotel has LED strips that diffuse a very warm atmosphere as they are reflected onto material such as wood, paper, and leather. This indirect light is a big component of the peaceful atmosphere.
Once you pass the lobby, you reach an intimate bar with one of my favorite light fixtures - the Bocci-38 lamp! This lamp is a large glass sphere blown with a multitude of interior cavities, which intersect and collide with each other in unpredictable ways. Several of these satellite cavities are deep enough to hold succulent or cacti plantings, while others house lighting elements.
“We paid homage to the natural landscape of south Florida,” designer Will Meyer notes about the hotel's design. This style stands in stark contrast to the art deco bold design typically associated with South Beach. I am a huge fan of the monochromatic color scheme and furnishings. I love the wood, sand, and ocean tones. The painted banyan tree trunks help define the lobby’s groups of seating, which can also be separated by gauzy white curtains.
Not surprisingly , the 1 Hotel boasts many types of wood. In the quest for their LEED Silver certification, they used reclaimed wood including oak, teak, spruce, ash, banyan tree, and red wood to create a preserved forest that is beautifully utilized on walls, ceilings, furniture, and even the hotel room key!
Dialing down to details, Meyer and Davis selected organic bed linens, hemp mattresses, and clothes hangers molded from recycled paper. Bedside note pads have disappeared in favor of chalkboards for notes and doodles. Each guest also has a yoga mattress available for use anytime, anywhere!
For generations humans have loved the natural and organic appeal of elements that make them feel calm, peaceful, and welcome.
Sustainability never looked so good!