Offering absolutely breath-taking views of the Windy City, the 20-storey Conrad Chicago has opened with beautiful and welcoming designs. SPACE’s Tonje Odegard had a closer look at Chicago’s latest luxury hotel…
Originally located on Rush Street, the previous Conrad Chicago was replaced by The Gwen, of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, in September 2015. The year closure and relocation has seen the re-emergence of a bigger, brighter and better hotel.
Now housed in the former Draft FCB corporate office building, the 287-room Conrad Chicago is a gentle mix of contemporary design, traditional luxury and innovative technology. A joint project from Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Geller Investment Co., LLC, and Wanxiang America Real Estate Group, the property also holds three uniquely designed restaurants and top-notch event spaces with unobstructed views of the city. Located on East Erie Street, the hotel has been transformed into a stylish and contemporary escape that overlooks the famous Magnificent Mile, the city’s prominent shopping area.
World-renowned designer Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR) was responsible for the striking design concept for the guestrooms, public areas and conference spaces, whereas San Francisco-based design firm Puccini Group was in charge of the three dining venues, Baptiste & Bottle, Noyane and Il Tavolino.
The spaces blend elements of local culture with contemporary design creating a residential and modern luxury feel, perfectly complementing the hotel’s glamorous surroundings.
Both global and local inspirations have guided the design of Conrad Chicago. The style of contemporary simplicity was drawn from architectural visionaries such as Warren Platner and Mies van der Rohe to subtly reflect 1960s and 1970s modernism, incorporating Chicago’s dynamic architectural heritage and art scene. The style is also echoed in the overall colour palette, materials and artwork.
The hotel’s most remarkable feature is the dramatic two-storey atrium located on the 19th and 20th floor. An eye-catching porcelain and gold leaf-inspired sculpture suspended from above grabs your attention, with a backdrop of Chicago’s glittering skyline. Supplied by the British company Haberdashery, the sculpture is named Inoca and makes reference to leaves caught in the Lake Michigan breeze, offering a gentle nod to the Windy City. You first see Inoca upon entering the atrium before it ascends to the hotel sky lobby on the 20th floor. Displaying 1,300 fine bone China leaves, the form appears to be floating in front of the two-storey, floor-to-ceiling windows. Mirrored panels further contribute to the spacious feel.
Deep orange and brown leather accents with bronze finishes make up the rest of the area, with an outstanding orange octagon-patterned carpet. Warm beech wood material and mid-century modern works of art inspired by artist Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella and Donald Judd complements the room. There are also impressive lighting fixtures and millwork details, in addition to a beautiful lobby screen wall.
Another striking element is the spiral staircase, a focal point underneath Inoca and the window ceiling. With deep red carpets and a sleek metallic banister, it brings guest up to the graceful pre-function areas. The concierge desk in the pre-function area really stands out with its fabulous black marble reception desk and artistic wall panel behind the bar in a funky 3D effect. The coffered ceiling is reflecting the stone floor pattern underneath it, both in a deep bronze shade. Guestrooms
The 261 sophisticated and minimalist guestrooms, 24 suites and two expansive hospitality suites carry on the design seen in the public spaces. Every room has rich leather wall accents and regal tones of red and gold. Bold, black granite entryways lead you into an area of sharp lines and contemporary furniture. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide that epic view from the residential-style rooms with modern artwork.
The bathrooms are spacious and minimalist. Each has a free-standing soaking tubs with bronze fixtures, providing a luxurious setting to take in the city view. In mellow and soothing shades of cream, white, chocolate brown and beige, the bathrooms are naturally lavish.
The concept for each of Conrad Chicago’s three restaurants is the famed chef and restaurateur, Richard Sandoval. All three culinary venues display a level of sophistication that aligns with the modern design of the hotel while maintaining their own individual character and identity. Puccini Group’s interior design team, led by Chief Creative Officer Robert Polacek and Senior Designer Marissa Marsh, helped bring each concept to life through a comprehensive interior design process.
Il Tavolino is inspired by an authentic Italian café and caters to more casual dining as an intimate street-side destination. Drawing on the Italian heritage of Chicago’s River North neighbourhood, once known as Little Sicily, it is a blend of modern and rustic design, brought to life through the selection of its materials and furnishings. Designed in collaboration with The Puccini Group, Il Tavolino is an intimate and welcoming restaurant. While the sleek white eat-in counter, the communal highboy tables, floor-to-ceiling windows and neon light art suspended from the ceiling add that contemporary finish to the room, the distressed wood, black and white tiling, an open pizza oven and a chalkboard mural displaying menu options add the classic Italian element.
For Baptiste & Bottle, a contemporary twist on the American tavern, the Puccini Group was influenced by Chicago’s former ‘Whiskey Row’ and its masculine tones and textures. Dark wood, aged metals and bourbon and whiskey-inspired hues were selected for this dining venue. Custom millwork pieces showcase the restaurant’s extensive liquor collection. Artwork includes a large, abstract collage of whiskey ingredients and stills, as well as a series of illustrations detailing the whiskey-making process. The most standout element here is the chain curtain separating the private dining area with the rest of the restaurant. The stern, industrial look is calmed down by its bronze and black pattern.
Located on the 21st floor rooftop, Noyane is a contemporary Japanese restaurant that takes its cues from modern Japanese design. Anchored by a large central bar and a sculptural fire fixture at the northeast corner, the Puccini Group designed the space to draw attention to the restaurant’s awe-inspiring views of Michigan Avenue and across Chicago. A large-scale geometric mural, which Puccini Group developed in partnership with commissioned artists, spans the building’s exterior.
Conrad Chicago is as shimmering on the inside as the city view seen from within it. Taking full advantage of its surroundings, the hotel has managed to mirror the impressive skyline with clever use of art, lighting and metallic and reflective materials. A smart, dynamic and stylish luxury hotel, Conrad Chicago is reason enough to visit the city.