Brooklyn Breaks Away

Custom chandeliers help a hip hotel move beyond its neighborhood’s industrial past

Go big or go home. Or maybe “go big or stay home” is the more apropos tagline for The William Vale Hotel in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. How big? A reservation for the 3,000-sq ft Vale Garden Residence suite begins at $12,000 per night (tax not included). Even if you don’t pony up for the premier suite you won’t get cheated. All 183 rooms in the 21-story hotel feature floor-to-ceiling windows, open-air balconies, and views of New York City and its boroughs.

Architect Albo Liberis strove for a design that would embody the “new Williamsburg.” The interiors were not to be “contrived or thematic,” by borrowing too heavily from the neighborhood’s historic brick warehouses. “The developers and design partners were all aligned,” says Alessandro Munge, principal of Toronto-based interior designer Studio Munge. “The William Vale had to represent a new generation of thinking and showcase the very best Brooklyn had to offer. To infuse the soul and passion Williamsburg is known for, we commissioned highly qualified Brooklyn-based artists, craftsmen and manufacturers. By doing so we challenged and empowered the local community to create history rather than inauthentically attempt to mirror the iconic warehouse surroundings.”

Hoping to break free of the exposed brickwork and distressed timber style that has become mainstream, the designers instead emphasized blond and gray woods and ample use of luminous white marble, with black metal accents in furniture and architectural details providing contrast. Filling out the space are hundreds of pieces of artwork curated from Brooklyn’s art community within the suites, lobby and event spaces.

Local Custom

Also adding a local flourish was Brooklyn’s 2nd Ave. Lighting, which designed custom fixtures for several signature spaces in the hotel. “We envisioned The William Vale as a beacon of creativity, community and progress; a new and memorable staple in Brooklyn. And I believe every guest can feel our intention and dedication through every design detail. The hotel’s custom chandeliers are a perfect example of this,” says Munge.

Guests entering the shimmering white marble lobby are greeted by the massive Isotope Chandelier, measuring 18-ft wide and more than 7-ft tall. The chandelier features an array of transverse steel spars, bridled in various wingspans, with LED strips as the light source. Notes Munge: “The lobby chandelier is abstract and yet linear. Its dynamic form has a way of energizing the space while exciting guests as they come and go.” In Westlight, the rooftop restaurant and bar,black iron, natural stones, warm leathers and sensual velvets cohabitate as a metaphor for Brooklyn’s diversity. The corridor into Westlight was designed as a funnel and a mysterious portal to build anticipation with hints of the discovery to come. A linear pattern livens the wood cladded walls and enhances the dynamic sense of arrival. To boost impact in this long corridor, Studio Munge selected two contrasting shades of warm wood cladded alternately.

Dominating the lounge area is 2nd Ave. Lighting’s 34-ft long Grand Illumina Bola Oblong chandelier, designed with milky orbs that glow among a labyrinth of downlights. With an antique copper finish, the chandelier uses 14 60-W A19 lamps (in the globes) and five 8-W MR16 lamps (for the downlights). “Westlight’s mix of glass and steel took a modern approach in bringing forth the neighborhood’s industrial past,” says Munge. “Spanning across the entire lounge, the chandelier’s brushed metals and glowing orbs evoke an authentic sense of soul.”

Installed at the rooftop bar are 2-ft pendants with an aluminum shade and cutaway profile that reveals a contemporary, industrial-style matte black finish on the exterior and an antique copper-finished interior. A counterbalanced arm suspended from the ceiling support helps deliver ambient illumination from a white glass 60-W A15 incandescent lamp.The final bespoke lighting flourish brings us back to the Vale Garden Residence. Imagined as the ultimate urban retreat, the suite offers 1,320 sq ft of living space across two floors. Bright and airy with sweeping views of Brooklyn and Manhattan, the penthouse connects to a 1,632-sq ft private terrace with an open-air Jacuzzi. The signature lighting piece is an 80-in. wide, 50-in. high chandelier, which blends art deco charm with industrial functionality. The chandelier’s 12 hollow conduits are constructed of structural steel and architectural glass to articulate a chic aesthetic. Connected by rail-styled cable, the fixture uses 24 MR16 LED bulbs.


Written by Paul Tarricone for LD+A Magazine