Good design makes a space attractive. Great design evokes an emotional response, one where the visual impact tickles your funny bone. We look at how the latter lives in these Noble House spaces and destinations.
Driftwood as wall cladding? A chandelier made from a tumbleweed? Quilts as hanging art pieces? If you’re looking for interesting interior design ideas, you might want to check out these intriguing spaces that go a step beyond just good design – they are great design.
Vessel Restaurant at Kona Kai Resort [San Diego, CA]
Located at the tip of San Diego’s Shelter Island, Kona Kai Resort & Spa has the harbor on one side and the marina on the other. “You’re surrounded by water, and we wanted to celebrate that,” says Noble House designer Scott Colee, who oversaw the design of the space. Nowhere is that more true than in Vessel Restaurant, where Colee created what he calls “a modern maritime theme,” with driftwood-like wall cladding, minimalist Scandinavian-style furniture, a teal and turquoise palette, and a backlit onyx bar top that glows like a miniature aquarium. A series of screens playing vintage surf videos on a loop are mounted on an accent wall, as well as on all sides of a column punctuating the center of the bar to bring the sea right into the room – as does the wall of windows looking out on the marina.
Seattle Central Library [Seattle, WA]
Located roughly a mile south of The Edgewater Hotel, The Seattle Central Library is a cathedral of the future dedicated to the written word, a modernist interplay of geometric and curvilinear surfaces. Led by Rem Koolhaas of OMA and Joshua Prince-Ramus of LMN Architects, the award-winning design is essentially a series of blocks, each with a specific purpose or function, pushed off-kilter and covered with a skin of glass and what Prince-Ramus calls “stretch metal.” Perhaps its most distinctive feature is the “Books Spiral” – continuous shelving that ascends on a gentle slope up four stories. There’s also an atrium that overlooks Elliott Bay, a “mixing chamber” that houses media, and a “living room” for reading, eating, playing chess, or just getting in out of the rain.
Oxbow Public Market [Napa, CA]
In transforming the former 40,000-square-foot agricultural shed into a public market along the Napa River, Christian von Eckartsberg of BCV Architects “endeavored to pay homage to the scale, simple character, and lines of traditional agricultural building forms,” and to the region’s farming heritage. Within walking distance to both River Terrace Inn and the Napa Valley Wine Train, the now open and airy market space is topped by a vaulted ceiling with exposed steel beams that rise up to a skylight, bars and tables in varying hues of light wood (most of it reclaimed) accented with smooth metal surfaces, and potted trees that reflect the organic, local nature of the purveyors.
Florida Keys Suites at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa [Little Torch Key, FL]
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is a real-life Fantasy Island: You arrive by boat, and as soon as you set foot on dry land, you’re immersed in a place where lush landscapes meet interiors crafted with comfort and softness in mind. Designer Marcie DeLaRosa says the guest suites are “an extension of the romantic experience” meant to embrace you at every turn with bamboo and bold prints, woven sea grass furniture, and washed-out florals. The simple island-style bungalows, with thatched roofs and lots of outdoor access, enclose luxe details: Elegant versions of mosquito netting drape canopy beds, crystal chandeliers hang above deep soaking tubs, and multi-branched bedside lamps look like what Jane Eyre might use to navigate Rochester’s castle.
Sunset Parklet [San Francisco, CA]
“We’re interested in the spaces between things,” says Andrew Dunbar of Interstice Architects, explaining both the firm’s philosophy and its name. Which made them the perfect choice to design one of San Francisco’s many tiny parklets, wedged in the city’s forgotten spaces. They filled a six-foot-wide, 50-foot-long former parking area in the Outer Sunset neighborhood – located eight miles on the other side of the city from Argonaut Hotel and Hotel Zoe – with a structure made of reclaimed local cedar that’s a cross between a contemporary sculpture and an ancient wooden barge. A connected series of 18-inch cedar strips rises and falls to form seating, tables, and planters, as well as places for kids to clamber on, bikers to park their rides, and surfers to rest their boards.
Modern Times Tasting Room’s Lomaland Fermentorium [San Diego, CA]
It takes a deft hand to stay on the right side of kitsch. The Lomaland Fermentorium, a craft brewery in Point Loma, sets the gold standard. Amy Krone, the brewery’s self-titled director of arts and crafts, says she and owner Jacob McKean were going for “super weird.” That kooky DIY feel translates to the 40-foot wall plastered with comic book pages (loners and anti-heroes only) and a chandelier made from LED lights stuffed inside an actual tumbleweed Krone found roaming Morena Boulevard. However, the centerpiece, which has become synonymous with the Fermentorium’s wacky creativity, is a satire on the famous Jeff Koons sculpture depicting Michael Jackson and his beloved Bubbles, the monkey. Here, it’s interpreted in a wall mosaic (also 40 feet tall) that Krone painstakingly papered from – get this – 10,900 Post-It notes.
The Casitas at Gateway Canyons Resort [Gateway, CO]
Gateway Canyons’s adobe-style buildings nestled in greenery feel like a mirage in the middle of red rock mountain desert. The design shines most in the property’s casitas, 1,600-square-foot private homes situated around a series of ponds before unobstructed views of Palisade Peak. In homage to an abandoned mine nearby, designer Suzanne Geibel McCammon covered the walls in copper paint and dripped an oxidizing solution down the surface to create unique free-form patterns; other walls were slathered in a treatment of real clay. Furniture was inspired by antique Peruvian pieces, and hanging quilts come from the private collection of the wife of resort owner John Hendricks – you may know him better from that little cable TV programming he brought to the world: Discovery Channel.