Pearl Jam is a Seattle institution, so The Edgewater Hotel worked with a local design and architecture firm to build a suite inspired by the iconic band.
The Edgewater Hotel has a long, winding history with musicians, having hosted such legends as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin (twice). In addition to the already existing Beatles Suite, which honors the Fab Four’s own stay in 1964, the hotel recently unveiled (in May 2018) the Pearl Jam Suite, a tribute to the Seattle-grown rock band. We had a chance to talk to Ben Smith, design lead at Mallet Architecture + Design, the firm that The Edgewater collaborated with to bring the suite to life
What sort of connection do you have with the band?
They’re obviously local, but they also recently stayed at the hotel. Our firm has some relationship with members of Pearl Jam, as well as with the Ames Bros, the design group that’s done all their posters and other graphic marketing materials. I also think the band had an understanding of the musical history of the hotel and had a willingness to connect. We never sat down with them, but we worked with their manager at our office and at their studio, and dove into the band’s history, their connection to Seattle, and sort of mined their back catalog of artwork, equipment, posters, books to gain inspiration for the space and use some of their memorabilia, as well.
How did you jump into this project?
We didn’t look anywhere else for inspiration. We didn’t want to reference what another hotel experience would be like. We wanted to create a unique hotel stage that wasn’t informed by the norms of other high-end suites. So, we painted the room jet black, which basically violates every room of hotel room design – but we wanted to create a little portal that you walk into from a regular hotel hallway and just kind of drop you into another world.
How does the suite pay tribute to Pearl Jam?
It was important to the band that the suite not be a shrine to them as members, but more of a catalog of things that the fans would recognize and connect to. One example of that is how we worked with the original photographer who documented a lot of their early shows in Seattle and licensed one of them from Drop in the Park [an iconic show that took place in the city’s Magnuson Park in 1992] and blew it up in the bathroom. It’s a shot from the stage out to the crowd, and you just see all these Seattle fans. So, someone could stay in the suite and actually find themselves in the image.
What other creative things did you do?
We worked with the Ames Bros, one of whom is the brother of Jeff Ament in the band, and created a layout of their original concert posters and turned that into a wallpaper that we used in the suite. Some of those original works are painted and stenciled in there, too – many of their iconic symbols and designs, we created as graffiti and replicated it on the wall. They gave us a library of their original books and vinyl records. There are a lot of tour tickets, reproduced set lists, their scribbled song list for a number of shows in Seattle. There’s a graffiti tribute above the headboard to Mother Love Bone, a precursor band to Pearl Jam.
What’s the furniture in the room like?
We didn’t want to buy spec commercial furniture. We scoured Seattle for reused items and second-hand pieces of furniture, like an old steel workman’s desk and a vintage media console. We used a repurposed roadie case (used to store equipment) for a coffee table. A lot of the lighting is found and repurposed. We also ordered oriental rugs to lay down over the flooring, sort of like a band stage. There’s paneling on the ceiling that’s lined with old-school fabric-covered speaker grills. The room was never meant to be a polished museum piece. It’s meant to be a living thing that felt assembled out of the authentic. There’s even a guitar and a little amp in the corner, so guests could conceivably rock out and keep the other patrons up.