THE DALMAR, FORT LAUDERDALE, USA
An almost four-year-long project The Dalmar, in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale downtown, blurs the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces, drawing on a lexicon of references from South Florida and West Coast mid-century design.
Located in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, The Dalmar, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, offers guests a downtown alternative to the city’s beachside destinations. Canadian design studio DesignAgency worked with the Wurzak Hotel Group to both conceptualise the brand, the interiors, and everything from the signage to guest flip-flops. Together, all these details present a unified vision of the hotel as a topical urban oasis for where business and pleasure travellers can come together with local residents in The Dalmar’s laidback, open-air surroundings.
Standing 25 storeys tall, The Dalmar features 209 stylish guest rooms, including 33 suites, sixth-floor 30-metre infinity pool and five food and beverage concepts including the city’s first skyline rooftop bar, Sparrow, which has incredible views of downtown and Fort Lauderdale’s beaches.
Driving The Dalmar’s distinctive aesthetic, interiors studio DesignAgency took inspiration from the golden age of American travel, drawing on a lexicon of references from South Florida and West Coast mid-century modern design elements, mixed with a contemporary perspective. Allen Chan, Partner and Co-Founder of DesignAgency says, “As the first urban lifestyle hotel in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, The Dalmar is an urban counterpart to conventional Fort Lauderdale beach hotels that channels the character of South Florida as a sunny destination with its heart close to the beach. Our goal was to create a unified vision for the hotel as a topical urban
oasis where business and pleasure travellers can come together with local residents in The Dalmar’s laidback, open-air surroundings. For example, in the public areas, indoor-outdoor connections and sun- washed, pastel hues create a tropical vibe reminiscent of beach-side resorts, while expansive views of the city infuse the hotel with a powerful sense of place.”
Julia Summerville, Design Director, DesignAgency, adds: “We wanted guests to feel transported to a fresh, fun and dynamic space with lots of colours, textures and vibrancy indicative of south Florida and the blossoming Las Olas community. Our goal was to create an aesthetic that was holistic with the architectural inspirations we took from the Case Study Houses, but also introduces some asymmetry to the project that leads the guest to explore. We wanted to be bold in our design choices. Wrapping each architectural volume with a different material felt indicative of the design narrative we wanted to create: bold statements, a balance of cool tones and warm tones, and colourful furniture that was inspired by the ‘golden age of travel’.”
On arrival, guests enter past Rose’s Coffee Bar, where large accordion folding doors blur the interior with an exterior patio whose large living wall, wood-panelled ceiling, patterned floor tiles and bucket chairs take the form of an outdoor room. Warm oak, and deep-blue porcelain geometric tiled walls softly glow from recessed lighting and custom millwork accents. Walnut pantry cupboards display coffee beans, local goods for sale, and potted plants, and a linear white marble bar grounds the composition.
Guests can perch at marble counters with brass details, and sink into the sunshine-yellow mid-century modern style sofa and a pair of turquoise leather lounge chairs from which they can catch glimpses into the Terrace Grill.
The Terrace Grill is a beautiful expanse of high ceilings and generous floorspace, soaked in marine shades from deep naval blues on button- backed banquets to aquatic sea greens in two shades on the walls. Its centrepiece is a grand, ‘armoire style’ oak panelled bar, topped with Calcutta marble and backed by smoked mirrors and display shelving. Bespoke lighting gives the space an elegant grandeur, where crystalline chandeliers hang above the bar and art deco style orbs are dotted throughout. There’s a clash of contemporary here, too. The odd unfinished concrete column and exposed pipework, spot-lighting, and clean marble surfaces bring the space bang up to date. Materials have been selected for their ability to mellow with age including oak panelling, turquoise and navy seating in leather and velvet upholstery, matched with dark oak and luminous marble tables framed with antique bronze. A large wrap around veranda with bold patterned tiles and copious potted plants captures the essence of modern classicism, mixed with a cosy familiarity that invites long afternoons of sipping rose. Guests relax into oversized armchairs while light breezes wash from the patio through this warm and welcoming milieu.
On the sixth floor, the main reception and amenity level is an airy space enlivened by a large mixed media and neon painting by Canadian artist Thrush Holmes, emerald quartzite walls and spectacular ocean views. After checking in at the sculptural white marble reception counters, guests are drawn to the lobby bar, which mixes an array of tropical style references – such as terrazzo floors flecked with mother of pearl, and white concrete breeze block walls. Potted plants and palms blur the boundaries between interior and exterior. A variety of seating options cater to an array of different social gatherings, while also delighting guests with their overlapping materials and playful patterns. A luminous pink onyx bar backed by a custom-designed stained-glass mural sparkles in the sunlight. Circling the lobby bar, a landscaped pool deck is lined with copious daybeds, a few private cabanas, and a breezy blue marble pool bar.
In contrast, the guest rooms are very muted in tone, bathed in calming but sumptuous gold-hued champagnes. On first appearance, the design is not over-complicated, but it is beautifully composed, putting the guest immediately at ease. The guest rooms give off just the right amount of residential feel, whilst still being decadent; defined by their clean-lined simplicity, earthy tones and neutral finishes including natural woods and marble bathrooms, wood furnishings with ocean-blue or amber leather upholstery, and custom brass lamps and tables with grey marble tops. It’s the sort of space one could imagine recreating at home for a truly zen-like retreat in which to barricade yourself away from the outside world.
The design turns progressively sophisticated on the rise through the building to The Sparrow, now the city’s highest rooftop bar and restaurant, on the 25th floor. Here, DesignAgency worked with New York and Los Angeles-based bar management and consulting company the Proprietors LLC to develop a concept that transports guests into a 1970s retro-inspired space filled with rich jewel-tones highlighted by gold detailing. The high, industrious ceilings have been painted in dark hues and lighting has been lowered around the bar area to reduce the height and vastness of the space, making it feel more intimate. Neon accents create a soft glow, while the dense seating clusters set the scene for luxurious and comfortable gatherings. Beyond the immediate bar area, the Sparrow Bar leads on to a sort of tropical lounge area, where brightly-coloured furniture is given a soothing glow with low-level ambient lighting and more foliage than you can shake a stick at.
“For Sparrow, Wurzak Hotel Group wanted to create something very special and not yet on the scene in south Florida,” says Allen Chan, “so they engaged Death and Co. out of NYC to craft a truly original concept for the rooftop venue. We collaborated with a local artist, Amauri Torezan, to create a geometric and playful mural on the rooftop that wraps around the architectural skin. It was a daring feat, but we love the outcome. We intensified the colours surrounding this element to ensure it was complementary to the interior colour scheme at Sparrow.”
Julia Summerville says, “We were obsessed with ensuring each detail was executed to its best ability and the overall team was critical in ensuring the large format marble slabs, breeze block, brass inlays in the terrazzo, and patterning of each feature tile was installed as we intended. We specified fabrics and finishes from all over Europe and North America, so ensuring each item was coordinated on time and within budget was a challenge but ultimately a reward for us when we were able to implement our overall creative vision.”
It’s safe to say The Dalmar is reinvigorating downtown Fort Lauderdale with an array of hospitality experiences. From its F&B offerings to clean cut pool areas bathed in Floridian sunshine and The Sparrow, with birds-eye views of Fort Lauderdale and the ocean beyond, this hotel is a celebration of its own situation and as such, evokes a wonderful sense of joie de vivre.
INTERIOR DESIGN: DesignAgency
SUPPLIERS: Tiles: Design & Direct Source, Cle Tile, StoneTile, Sustainable Materials, Deco-Tile, Emser Tile marble: Opustone Wood flooring: StoneTile Leather: CTL Leather Wallpaper: Kingdom Home Wallpaper, House of Hackney Wallpaper, Black Crow Studios Wallpaper, NewWall Wallcovering, Koroseal Wallpaper, Flock Wallcovering, Carnegie Wallcovering Concertex Mirror: Manor Mirror Tambour: Surfacing Solution Floor finishes and baseboards: Johnsonite Fabrics/leather: Valley Forge Fabrics, Carnegie Fabrics, CTL Leather, Kravet Contract, Sunbrella, Theo Décor, Architex, Moore & Giles, Kingdom Home, P Kaufmann Contract, Comersan Fabrics, Primavera, Trican Corporation Fabrics, Brentano Fabrics, Maxwell Fabrics, Panaz, Opuzen, Master Fabrics, Pollack, Robert Allen, Donghia, Perennials, Designtex Drapery: PKaufmann Contract Miscellaneous: Caesarstone, Dyson, Hufcor Partitions, Bobrick, Teleadapt Power Hub, Metro Power & Light, Dormakaba Artwork: Farmboy Fine Arts, Amauri Torezan Art, Thrush Holmes, Artworx Consultants Guest room millwork: Fleetwood Fine Furniture & D’Style Rugs: Loloey Mirrors: Majestic Mirrors Corridor carpet: Signature Hospitality Custom lighting: Genesis Lighting, Chelsom Lighting, Preciosa Lighting Plumbing fixtures: Jaclo, Delta, Kohler Public area millwork: ALX RAW FF&E: J. Alexander Collection, Eric Trine, Old Town Fiberglass, Majestic Mirror, Design Within Reach, Lobster’s Day, Tropitone, Poggessi USA, Restoration Hardware, Flos, Rejuvenation, Retro Print Revival, Sika Design, Modernica, Ligne Roset, Kettal, Jay Scotts Company, Innit Designs, Industry West, Visual Comfort, Designform, France & Son, Fanimation, Eye of the Day Garden, Serralunga, Crate & Barrel Green living wall (ground floor): SuitePlants.com Ballroom carpet: Crossley Axminster Terrazzo: Artistic Surfaces Stained glass at 6th floor bar: Pacific Glass Millwork in Sparrow: Allegheny Millwork Lighting in Sparrow: Preciosa Lighting, Secto Design, Rich Brilliant Willing, Contardi Neon: Rite Lite Signs