In Soho, A Glam Scandinavian Retreat Rises on the Footprint of an Old Holiday Inn

The first thing you notice when you enter the lobby of 11 Howard — the new lushly designed hotel rising on the footprint of an old Holiday Inn in New York’s Soho — is nothing. There’s a conspicuous absence of a front desk; there are no shelves full of decorative books for guests to peruse; there’s not even a chandelier.

That’s because Anda Andrei — 11 Howard’s creative director and the former right-hand woman to Ian Schrager — asked for a Calder sculpture in its stead. An outsized table offers iPads where guests can check themselves in. A conversation-pit-cum-sculpture-garden in one corner brings to mind the waiting room of a doctor’s office fit for Greek gods. The one concession to a visitor’s more touristy instincts might be the gift shop, Studio Oliver Gustav’s first US outpost. Copenhagen-based Gustav is an art director and designer with an impeccable eye; sculptural pieces from Faye Toogood and Peter Bauhuis are at one with the moody atelier, perfumed with a custom-blend Mad Et Len fragrance.

The space is at once overwhelming in its refined austerity and a welcome respite from the clamor of nearby Canal Street. Upstairs, the more human-scale “library” features furniture from Rick Owens mingling with high-end antiques, an Apparatus chandelier presiding elegantly over a long dining table and a Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph gracing the back wall. Taking cues from residential design, Andrei and Danish firm Space Copenhagen worked in shades of gray, blush, and blue to craft 221 guest rooms that intimate their appeal rather than shouting it. Furniture and lighting designed in Denmark in collaboration with brands like Gubi and &Tradition mingle with custom rose throws by Italy’s Society and thoughtful ceramic sculptures by the artist Katie Yang. Brass and marble make welcome if expected appearances throughout, complementing the designer’s muted palette and reserved Scandinavian aesthetic.

“It’s the way we dress, it’s the way we live,” says Andrei of the elevated mix of simple materials used throughout the interior. “There is something about the honesty of these materials that ultimately, even used, they might look better than new. It’s not all distressed and it’s not all polished — it’s a balance.” And that balance gives Scandinavian design a firm foothold in New York, with 11 Howard serving as the first real outpost for an unapologetically cozy minimalism that makes no concessions to rusticity and refuses to fetishize Italian mid-century design. Staycation, anyone?

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