Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel

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By Paige Alexus / Published by Dwell
While walking the Hawaiian streets of Honolulu, it’s almost impossible to avoid the connection that Oahu's South Shore holds with its midcentury past. Along with many original structures still standing tall in this tropical metropolis, a number of new efforts have created establishments that recall the glory days of midcentury Waikiki.

One such example is The Laylow, a new 250-room hotel on Kuhio Avenue that’s inspired by the elegance of the 1960s jet-setter lifestyle. Housed in a building that was originally built to be the Coral Reef Hotel in 1969, it’s now Marriott’s latest property in their Autograph Collection—and just opened its doors in March 2017. 

Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 1 of 17 - With its 15 floors, The Laylow stands above Kuhio Avenue in Honolulu’s Waikiki neighborhood on the South Shore of Oahu. The cantilevered awning in the front of the hotel is made out of ipe wood and was designed by Kansas City-based design firm DLR Group. As it wraps around above the bar, the material changes to sapele wood. 

With its 15 floors, The Laylow stands above Kuhio Avenue in Honolulu’s Waikiki neighborhood on the South Shore of Oahu. The cantilevered awning in the front of the hotel is made out of ipe wood and was designed by Kansas City-based design firm DLR Group. As it wraps around above the bar, the material changes to sapele wood. 

For the Portland-based creative agency that’s responsible for the entire project, OMFGCO, it actually started out as a breezy assignment that included creating the hotel’s name, brand, and story. However, the project quickly expanded to be much more than that—including the task of creating everything from the concept and branding, to the interior design of the rooms and public spaces. Needless to say, it quickly became the biggest project they’ve ever taken on. 

Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 2 of 17 - The welcoming, tropical lobby is located on the second floor, providing a place for guests to enter peacefully away from the hustle and bustle of the street. 

The welcoming, tropical lobby is located on the second floor, providing a place for guests to enter peacefully away from the hustle and bustle of the street. 

The midcentury building, which had been turned into the Aqua Wave Waikiki in 2006, was in need of an extensive renovation. Rockbridge, the hotel developer and new owner, reached out to OMFGCO to help. "They were a great partner and green-lighted many complicated ideas in order to make the vision come to life," says Fritz Mesenbrink, co-founder and creative director of OMFGCO. Although many of the main structural elements of the building are still in-line with the original layout, the new second-floor lobby level underwent a major update, including the addition of an outdoor lanai, bar, and pool area.

Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 3 of 17 - A 100-foot-long wall of terra-cotta breeze blocks designed by Patricia Urquiola for Mutina surrounds the reception desk and extends into a seating area.

A 100-foot-long wall of terra-cotta breeze blocks designed by Patricia Urquiola for Mutina surrounds the reception desk and extends into a seating area.

Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 4 of 17 - Standing behind the reception desk is a lighthearted installation designed by the OMFGCO Art Department. It features 70 vintage dashboard hula nodders.

Standing behind the reception desk is a lighthearted installation designed by the OMFGCO Art Department. It features 70 vintage dashboard hula nodders.

The final result celebrates the era in which the building originated and the Hawaiian modern architecture that was taking hold at the time, including the iconic works of Vladimir Ossipoff. They created 14 types of rooms and a full selection of custom furniture for the suites and public spaces, which include a lobby, concierge, bar, restaurant, coffee shop, retail shop, and pool deck.

Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 5 of 17 - Throughout the hotel, the designers sourced a mix of new, custom, and vintage furnishings. The outdoor spaces include furniture by Kettal, custom cabanas, and lounge chairs inspired by the Locus Solus collection.

Throughout the hotel, the designers sourced a mix of new, custom, and vintage furnishings. The outdoor spaces include furniture by Kettal, custom cabanas, and lounge chairs inspired by the Locus Solus collection.

With projects like the Ace Hotel and Stumptown Coffee Roasters under their belt, OMFGCO collaborated with San Francisco-based designer John Randolph of Randolph Designs—who is known for his work on multiple Aesop stores—to get the job done. The result is a complete design vision that tells the story of a modern, urban Hawaiian landscape that luckily refuses to let go of its midcentury past. 

Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 6 of 17 - The bar is lined with vintage stools by Arthur Umanoff, which OMFGCO sourced from all over the world via 1stdibs, Pamono, Etsy, and more. Fritz Mesenbrink of OMFGCO tells us, "It was challenging to get that many of his stools in the same place, but we got them, and had them all restored beautifully."

The bar is lined with vintage stools by Arthur Umanoff, which OMFGCO sourced from all over the world via 1stdibs, Pamono, Etsy, and more. Fritz Mesenbrink of OMFGCO tells us, "It was challenging to get that many of his stools in the same place, but we got them, and had them all restored beautifully."


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 7 of 17 - The Hideout bar features a Marmoreal countertop, which consists of an engineered marble that was developed collaboratively between dzek and British designer Max Lamb.

The Hideout bar features a Marmoreal countertop, which consists of an engineered marble that was developed collaboratively between dzek and British designer Max Lamb.


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 8 of 17 - The property includes a saltwater swimming pool with a bamboo-shaded sun deck.

The property includes a saltwater swimming pool with a bamboo-shaded sun deck.


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 9 of 17 - The guest rooms feature original designs by OMFGCO and Randolph Designs, one of which is a custom midcentury-inspired wall unit that acts as both a media cabinet and space divider. OMFGCO created a custom modern floral print that can be found on the bedroom walls—which also appears on custom pool towels that were created in collaboration with Slowtide.

The guest rooms feature original designs by OMFGCO and Randolph Designs, one of which is a custom midcentury-inspired wall unit that acts as both a media cabinet and space divider. OMFGCO created a custom modern floral print that can be found on the bedroom walls—which also appears on custom pool towels that were created in collaboration with Slowtide.


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 10 of 17 - The rooms also include custom lounge chairs, tables, spring pole lamps, and rattan chairs.

The rooms also include custom lounge chairs, tables, spring pole lamps, and rattan chairs.


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 11 of 17 - Artist Michael Paulus spent a week creating hand-painted floral murals in the restroom vestibule and the elevator cabs.

Artist Michael Paulus spent a week creating hand-painted floral murals in the restroom vestibule and the elevator cabs.


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 12 of 17 - One of the custom installations by the OMFGCO Art Department includes a Hideout sign made with modified cocktail umbrellas. 

One of the custom installations by the OMFGCO Art Department includes a Hideout sign made with modified cocktail umbrellas. 


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 13 of 17 - Along with serving creative craft cocktails from the bar, the Hideout restaurant offers Pacific Rim and American comfort food. Jewelry designer Anna Korte of AK Studio made this custom curtain specifically for the project. 

Along with serving creative craft cocktails from the bar, the Hideout restaurant offers Pacific Rim and American comfort food. Jewelry designer Anna Korte of AK Studio made this custom curtain specifically for the project. 


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 14 of 17 - The Hideout coffee shop serves brews all day long from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Here, it's being served on the Marmoreal countertops.

The Hideout coffee shop serves brews all day long from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Here, it's being served on the Marmoreal countertops.


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 15 of 17 - Shown here are a few of the details dreamed up by OMFGCO, including custom paper cups that are served at the coffee shop and the modern floral pattern they created for the guest room walls.

Shown here are a few of the details dreamed up by OMFGCO, including custom paper cups that are served at the coffee shop and the modern floral pattern they created for the guest room walls.


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 16 of 17 - OMFGCO created a custom tile to cover the tables on the Hideout lanai.

OMFGCO created a custom tile to cover the tables on the Hideout lanai.


Waikiki’s Midcentury Revival Continues to Flourish With a New Jet Set-Inspired Hotel - Photo 17 of 17 - The on-site store sells a mix of different goods, some of which have been custom-made for the hotel, including hats by Kiriko, beach towels and hats with the hotel’s wallpaper pattern, and ukuleles that can be found in each guest room.  

The on-site store sells a mix of different goods, some of which have been custom-made for the hotel, including hats by Kiriko, beach towels and hats with the hotel’s wallpaper pattern, and ukuleles that can be found in each guest room.  

Waikiki Beach is about a 10-minute walk from The Laylow. Room rates start at $269 per night.