La PeerMatt Dougherty • Photography by Jesus Banuelos and Laure Joliet • May 10, 2018
When Gulla Jónsdóttir was shopping for space for her eponymous architecture and design studio, she found a coveted spot on West Hollywood’s North La Peer Drive, but it came with one caveat: the landlord told her she could only stay for four years as Kimpton would be starting construction on La Peer, the Design District’s debut hotel in the same location. The connection was made, and Jónsdóttir found herself designing her office’s future replacement as “something unique, Californian, and light,” she says.
West Hollywood’s center of high-end fashion and furniture attracts a lot of creatives. Art is “everywhere you look,” Jónsdóttir explains, and she wanted to incorporate that throughout the property. To meet the earthy tones and natural materials found in the custom furniture and white oak wood flooring, the reception area features a sculptural plaster wall depicting the city’s topography designed by Jónsdóttir and completed by artist Guerin Swing, who also partnered with Los Angeles graffiti artist Retna for the two-wall mural in the backyard courtyard patio “that’s a fight between the elements—fire, oil, and earth,” Jónsdóttir says. “I absolutely adore that we were able to engage local artists,” says Kimpton creative director and global senior vice president of design Ave Bradley, “there’s a new appreciation for artists and craft when you’re onsite.” Take Tokyo-based graphic artist Kahori Maki’s handpainted floral murals that adorn the elevator lobby, elevators, and bathroom ceilings, bringing a feminine aesthetic to the moody interiors.
Art doesn’t merely act as the hotel’s identity, it fulfills West Hollywood’s legislation that every new build spend one percent of its budget on public art, and even provided some solutions. At the center of the building’s exterior, for instance, “we were stuck with transformer doors, and they were an eye sore,” Jónsdóttir explains. So she hired architect Elena Manferdini to create a metal art piece dotted with birds that covers the still-functioning doors. More nature-inspired pieces continue in the 105 guestrooms, including artist’s Tanya Aguiñiga crafted headboards made of string art that complement white oak herringbone wood floors and a gray, beige, and white palette.
Jónsdóttir’s signature seductive style appears in the fourth-floor penthouse suite on black and earth gray walls, and returns in the lobby lounge, where leather tiles meander up the wall and ceiling “to create a romantic, cozy niche inside the lobby,” she adds. The contrast between light and dark delivers “something to embrace you.” The backyard bar on the same level was conceived with a classic Californian indoor-outdoor mindset, while bronze, tulip-shaped chandeliers hang over the bar and in front of a wall clad with gaudi tiles, inspired by the sidewalks of Barcelona.
For the property’s Mediterranean F&B spot, Viale dei Romani, New York-based Parts and Labor Design created a casual atmosphere where light fixtures informed by the sea suspend from a gold-painted ceiling and an oversized banquette with yellow velvet upholstery anchors the dining room. The standout, says firm cofounder Andrew Cohen, is the large open kitchen backed with Mediterranean blue tiles that “is visible from almost any seat and provides an exciting connection to the [food].”
For Jónsdóttir, who also lives in the neighborhood, creating something that felt “like you’re in a Hollywood Hills home” was paramount—not just for the guests, but for her own personal connection to the space. Before construction finished, she asked the owners for her old office back, and they obliged. “It was full circle—I’m moving back in,” and adding a gallery to showcase her products and the work of local artists.