Made-in-America Design Brand Shinola Launches its First Hotel in Detroit

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By Alia Akkam
Luxury watchmaker Shinola ventures into hospitality with a 129-room property that engages with the local community.

Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit is one of the city’s most iconic roads—purportedly, in 1909 the first mile of concrete highway in the world was built here—rich with automotive milestones and strewn with cultural institutions. Propelling this thoroughfare into a new era is the Shinola Hotel, a partnership between the namesake retailer and local real estate firm Bedrock, operated by Mac&Lo. 

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Awash in blue, the prominent "living room" is not just a social hangout for Shinola Hotel guests, but the downtown Detroit community.

Awash in blue, the prominent "living room" is not just a social hangout for Shinola Hotel guests, but the downtown Detroit community.

Shinola, known for its hand-assembled products spanning bicycles and audio equipment, is a proud Detroit company with a factory devoted to timepieces and leather inside the nearby A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education. Shinola Hotel, designed by New York–based Gachot Studios with architecture by local firm Kraemer Design Group, broadens this handcrafted narrative. 

If they aren’t at the cocktail-fueled Evening Bar, chances are guests are hanging out in the "living room"—at least until the beer hall The Brakeman and fried chicken joint Penny Red are open.

If they aren’t at the cocktail-fueled Evening Bar, chances are guests are hanging out in the "living room"—at least until the beer hall The Brakeman and fried chicken joint Penny Red are open.

A fireplace instills the Shinola Hotel with a sense of coziness and intimacy amid a high-energy atmosphere.

A fireplace instills the Shinola Hotel with a sense of coziness and intimacy amid a high-energy atmosphere.

A motley assortment of contemporary, local and international art curated by the Detroit gallery Library Street Collective enlivens the hotel.

A motley assortment of contemporary, local and international art curated by the Detroit gallery Library Street Collective enlivens the hotel.

"Since establishing the brand in 2011, we always had the vision of designing a space that was an extension of Shinola," says creative director Daniel Caudill. "We wanted people to be able to fully immerse themselves in the sight and smell of Shinola and felt the best way to accomplish this was through a hotel." 

Celebrating the city’s past, Shinola Hotel unites a duo of reimagined historic structures: the circa-1915 T.B. Rayl Co. hardware and sporting goods store, adorned in terra-cotta; and the limestone-clad Singer Building, constructed in 1936 for the Singer Sewing Machine Company. These two classics meld with a trifecta of new annexes. 

Throughout, Gachot Studios aimed for a homey, simple approach to design.

Throughout, Gachot Studios aimed for a homey, simple approach to design.

Oversized windows forge a connection with downtown Detroit.

Oversized windows forge a connection with downtown Detroit.

Shop the Look
Shinola The Runwell Clock
Shinola The Runwell Clock
Inspired by the very first watch we built in Detroit, The Runwell Wall Clock features a white dial with raised Arabic indices and luminous hands all finished in a chrome case. The Runwell features signature Shinola details, including an iconic caseback plate with an individual serial number.
Shinola Sketch Book
Shinola Sketch Book
This American-made, hard linen sketch book is Smyth Sewn and beautifully formulated with a 100lb weight paper. Manufactured in the United States from all US-sourced materials including acid-free paper from sustainably managed American forests. Includes elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket.
Shinola The Canfield 43mm Watch
Shinola The Canfield 43mm Watch
Built using a top loaded case construction, The Canfield’s most distinct feature is its sophisticated open dial viewing area which showcases a refined minute track and slim, diamond-cut hands.

Christine Gachot, partner at Gachot Studios, describes the hotel’s sensibility as home-like, flaunting a simple palette and residential-grade fabrics. "The public spaces have concrete floors with a custom brass inlay, while the walls are done in a softly textured plaster. We tried to be respectful of the original architecture, even recreating the terra-cotta facade detail in a cast-plaster on the events ceiling," she explains. 

The muted guest room palette makes way for white oak subtly trimmed in Shinola blue.

The muted guest room palette makes way for white oak subtly trimmed in Shinola blue.

A cheerful striped blanket is among the custom Shinola features in guest rooms.

A cheerful striped blanket is among the custom Shinola features in guest rooms.

Shinola’s Runwell turntables add a touch of retro intrigue.

Shinola’s Runwell turntables add a touch of retro intrigue.

The animated "living room," the heart of the property for both guests and locals, paves the way to guest rooms. Laid out in over 50 different configurations for a personalized feel, they feature white American oak flooring and wall panelling trimmed in signature Shinola blue. Fittingly, Shinola goods such as Runwell desk clocks, striped alpaca blankets, and leather throw pillows also grace guest rooms. 

Bathrooms incorporate custom glazed tile and Imperial Danby stone quarried in Vermont.

Bathrooms incorporate custom glazed tile and Imperial Danby stone quarried in Vermont.

Gleaming, warm baths feature products inspired by T.B. Rayl’s, one of the building’s previous occupants.

Gleaming, warm baths feature products inspired by T.B. Rayl’s, one of the building’s previous occupants.

An ode to Thomas Parker, one of Detroit’s first black landowners, the restaurant-and retail-lined pedestrian corridor Parker’s Alley attracts crowds with thriving Detroit businesses. Clothing store Good Neighbor and juice bar Drought play nice with global brands like Madewell and Le Labo. Chef Andrew Carmellini of New York’s NoHo Hospitality Group has assembled a disparate collection of food and beverage establishments, including the midcentury-inspired, Italian restaurant San Morello. 

In the restaurant San Morello, a palette of soft brown, white, and blue is amplified by soaring window panels.

In the restaurant San Morello, a palette of soft brown, white, and blue is amplified by soaring window panels.

"We wanted to get people out and walking around downtown Detroit," says Gachot. "Connecting the property to the city in interesting ways will give guests a sense of discovery."

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Related Reading:  Shinola Pairs With Rockwell to Bring Detroit to Tribeca

Project Credits:

Architect: Kraemer Design Group / @thekraemeredge

Interior Design: Gachot Studios / @gachotstudios

Developer: Bedrock