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