Da Vinci Lifestyle

Tate Gunnerson • Photography by Simon Brown •
November 26, 2019

When designing the 86-room, LEED Gold-certified Crosby Street Hotel in Manhattan’s buzzy SoHo neighborhood, Kit Kemp, founder and creative director of Firmdale Hotels, leaned into the neighborhood’s creative energy, making art a focal point. “I love this idea of a salon where people get together and talk about art,” she says.

In front of the hotel, a 12-foot-long bronze cat sculpture by Colombian artist Fernando Botero greets guests, setting the stage for the whimsical interiors. Crisp, white walls and warm hardwood flooring dress the lobby, fostering a gallery-like backdrop for Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s 10-foot-tall sculpture made of metal letters connected in the shape of a human head—one of several pieces on display.

The neutral milieu gives way to an explosion of color in the brasserie, where vibrant, plastic 1950s-era pendants seem to float over the bar, and the banquettes and chairs are covered in colorful hues. On the walls, pieces by artists such as Joe Fan commingle with African Fante asafo flags, including one that depicts a flying rhino. “He’s an endangered species, so I thought there was something quite wonderful about putting wings on the rhino,” Kemp says.

Outfitted with crushed raspberry and blue wallcoverings, many of the suites are just as lively, with traditional furnishings accented by more contemporary elements, such as a white wire chandelier in the shape of a traditional Venetian one over an old wooden dining table and upholstered chairs. “[The mix] makes it a lot more fun,” Kemp says.

That formula is echoed in the Meadow suite, which sports steel-framed doors and windows that open to a serene courtyard, a true respite from SoHo’s hustle and bustle. Inside, a paisley-patterned linen wallcovering juxtaposes a modern rug designed by Kemp, who admits to favoring maximalism. “It’s nice to have an interior where you’re still seeing things on the second or third time around,” she says.

Artwork by Anselm Kiefer sits behind an organic bench in the lobby

The Crosby Bar’s walls are upholstered in Kemp’s playful One Way fabric

Colorful lights mark the Crosby Bar’s dining room

Plants envelop a dining table in the courtyard

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