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TAO and Dream Head West

Will Speros • July 26, 2017

Photos: TAO and Dream Head West

When vacancy signs went up across a small radius of Hollywood, TAO Group saw an opportunity to maximize its exposure in the City of Stars. The restaurant and nightlife company, led by Rich Wolf, Noah Tepperberg, Jason Strauss, and Marc Parker, plotted a series of their signature dining and nightlife concepts (as well as a few new ones) designed to serve and enhance and elevate the guest experience at the Dream Hollywood located on the same city block. (The foursome have venues at the two Dream hotels in New York.) They enlisted the help of longtime collaborator Rockwell Group (the New York firm also designed the hotel) to work on the massive project. “They’re really a tremendously versatile firm,” says Wolf, “and the whole culture of the company really starts from the top.”

Connected by an alleyway on the same block as the 178-room Dream Hotel “so guests never have to leave the premises,” adds Wolf, Rockwell Group reimagined Beauty & Essex, TAO, and Avenue as distinct and vibrant haunts with a theatrical design, while taking cues from their New York and Las Vegas outposts (many done by the firm). “The way the TAO Group approaches the interior design is very cinemagraphic,” explains Shawn Sullivan, partner and studio leader at Rockwell Group. “It really feels quite immersive, and that approach is the perfect fit for Los Angeles.”

For the hotel, meanwhile, Rockwell Group infused a midcentury design appointed with abundant flora and nature-inspired elements. The iconic views of the Hollywood Hills and the surrounding locale informed much of the design, Sullivan explains. “We got excited by the idea of creating a vertical version of a Hollywood Hills house.” The two companies also collaborated on the hotel’s crowning jewel—the Highlight Room—an 11,000-square-foot rooftop lounge and pool oasis with black and white checkered floors and lush vegetation that will play host to the daytime pool parties the veteran operators are known for in Vegas.

While the hotel is a refreshing oasis in LA, the two-story TAO—located within the complex’s former parking garage—is crafted with original elements like a wood bow truss ceiling and many of the brand’s mainstays including large-scale street art, brick-lined corridors, and red damask wallcoverings. Of course, the 20-foot-tall Quan Yin statue rising from a koi pond stands guard over the restaurant and is brought to life thanks to 3D projection mapping animations by Rockwell LAB. “The sense of the original building blending so beautifully with this very different interior worked really well,” Sullivan says.

Meanwhile, just beyond its signature pawnshop storefront, the clandestine, jewel box-inspired Beauty & Essex shimmers with a velvet palette, beaded ceilings, and jewelry-like light fixtures. Guests are greeted by a showstopping 10-foot-tall chandelier that runs down the center of the spiral staircase, which leads to the locket-wrapped dining space. The restaurant’s handstitched wallcoverings are a standout for Sullivan in a venue woven together with tiny details.

Avenue lounge and nightclub, a New York staple, becomes one with LA with an indoor-outdoor setup that mixes Old World charm with contemporary details. A custom metal and glass greenhouse exterior with twinkling lights welcomes guests to an interior clad with camouflage leather, brassy metal, and black marble. Avenue’s unique conservatory space mirrors classic libraries or drawing rooms and is wrapped in wood paneling with a deconstructed disco ball as the focal point. “It’s almost a quiet hangout space,” he says. “Being able to go back and forth makes the club experience more enjoyable.”

To avoid cliché, Rockwell and TAO Group worked together to create a one-of-kind theatrical experience. “There’s always the danger that there’re too many venues that might compete,” Sullivan notes, “and in our approach of creating such a deep variety, they don’t compete at all.”

See our profile on TAO Group cofounder Rich Wolf here.