While walking the Hawaiian streets of Honolulu, it’s almost impossible to avoid the connection that Oahu's South Shore holds with its midcentury past. Along with many original structures still standing tall in this tropical metropolis, a number of new efforts have created establishments that recall the glory days of midcentury Waikiki.
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One such example is The Laylow, a 250-room hotel on Kuhio Avenue that’s inspired by the elegance of the 1960s jet-setter lifestyle. Housed in a building that was originally built to be the Coral Reef Hotel in 1969, it’s now Marriott’s latest property in their Autograph Collection—and opened its doors in March 2017.
With its 15 floors, The Laylow stands above Kuhio Avenue in Honolulu’s Waikiki neighborhood on the South Shore of Oahu. The cantilevered awning in the front of the hotel is made out of ipe wood and was designed by Kansas City-based design firm DLR Group. As it wraps around above the bar, the material changes to sapele wood. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
For the Portland-based creative agency that’s responsible for the project, OMFGCO, it actually started out as a breezy assignment that included creating the hotel’s name, brand, and story. However, the project quickly expanded to be much more than that—including the task of creating everything from the concept and branding, to the interior design of the rooms and public spaces. Needless to say, it quickly became the biggest project they’ve ever taken on.
The welcoming, tropical lobby is located on the second floor, providing a place for guests to enter peacefully away from the hustle and bustle of the street. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
The midcentury building, which had been turned into the Aqua Wave Waikiki in 2006, was in need of an extensive renovation. Rockbridge, the hotel developer and new owner, reached out to OMFGCO to help. "They were a great partner and green-lighted many complicated ideas in order to make the vision come to life," says Fritz Mesenbrink, co-founder and creative director of OMFGCO. Although many of the main structural elements of the building are still in-line with the original layout, the new second-floor lobby underwent a major update, including the addition of an outdoor lanai, bar, and pool area.
Standing behind the reception desk is a lighthearted installation designed by the OMFGCO Art Department. It features 70 vintage dashboard hula nodders. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
The final result celebrates the era in which the building originated and the Hawaiian modern architecture that was taking hold at the time, including the iconic works of Vladimir Ossipoff. They created 14 types of rooms and a full selection of custom furniture for the suites and public spaces, which include a lobby, concierge, bar, restaurant, coffee shop, retail shop, and pool deck.
Throughout the hotel, the designers sourced a mix of new, custom, and vintage furnishings. The outdoor spaces include furniture by Kettal, custom cabanas, and lounge chairs inspired by the Locus Solus collection. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
With projects like the Ace Hotel and Stumptown Coffee Roasters under their belt, OMFGCO collaborated with San Francisco-based designer John Randolph of Randolph Designs—who is known for his work on multiple Aesop stores—to get the job done. The result is a complete design vision that tells the story of a modern, urban Hawaiian landscape that luckily refuses to let go of its past.
The bar is lined with vintage stools by Arthur Umanoff, which OMFGCO sourced from all over the world via 1stdibs, Pamono, Etsy, and more. Fritz Mesenbrink of OMFGCO tells us, "It was challenging to get that many of his stools in the same place, but we got them, and had them all restored beautifully." Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
The property includes a saltwater swimming pool with a bamboo-shaded sun deck. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
The guest rooms feature original designs by OMFGCO and Randolph Designs, one of which is a custom midcentury-inspired wall unit that acts as both a media cabinet and space divider. OMFGCO created a custom modern floral print that can be found on the bedroom walls—which also appears on custom pool towels that were created in collaboration with Slowtide. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
The rooms also include custom lounge chairs, tables, spring pole lamps, and rattan chairs. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
Artist Michael Paulus spent a week creating hand-painted floral murals in the restroom vestibule and elevator cabs. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
One of the custom installations by the OMFGCO Art Department includes a Hideout sign made with modified cocktail umbrellas. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
Along with serving creative craft cocktails from the bar, the Hideout restaurant offers Pacific Rim and American comfort food. Jewelry designer Anna Korte of AK Studio made this custom curtain specifically for the project. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
The Hideout coffee shop serves brews all day long from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Here, it's being served on the Marmoreal countertops. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
Shown here are a few of the details dreamed up by OMFGCO, including custom paper cups that are served at the coffee shop and the modern floral pattern they created for the guest room walls. Photo by Andrew Rizer
OMFGCO created a custom tile to cover the tables on the Hideout lanai. Photo courtesy of OMFGCO
The on-site store sells a mix of different goods, some of which have been custom-made for the hotel, including hats by Kiriko, beach towels and hats with the hotel’s wallpaper pattern, and ukuleles that can be found in each guest room.
Courtesy of OMFGCO
Waikiki Beach is about a 10-minute walk from The Laylow. Room rates start at $269 per night.