The remodel of the restaurant and bar at Hotel Monteleone, in New Orleans historic French quarter, was a very exciting project that I worked on last year with Lindsay Broad, where we work together at Puccini Group, a restaurant design firm based in San Francisco. Hotel Monteleone is a Literary and Historic landmark. The hotel has been open since before the 1930′s and has been written about in novels from authors like Hemingway,  Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and many more. Every inch of the hotel has a different story, a historic moment all of its own that you can just feel as you walk through the space.

The carousel in the bar is existing and has been there for over 70 years. It is one of the most romantic and unique things to experience while visiting New Orleans. The carousel even slowly spins completing a full circle once every 15 minutes.

After spending a few days in New Orleans, Lindsay and I wanted to commission art that would speak to the mystery and golden age of the hotel. We were inspired by the Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans and wanted to put our own spin on it. We fell in love with the last image shown above, from a Vogue Portugal editorial, photographed on an old carousel. This shoot inspired our palette and accessories for the whole restaurant and bar. In order to bring the space to life we found artifacts and accessories used by the authors and follies who may have once stayed at the hotel.

After weeks of research we uncovered portraits photographed by Alfred Cheney Johnston of Ziegfeld Follies from the 1920′s. This is when all our ideas began to fall in place for the missing art pieces. We then commissioned Latvian bead artist Binka Rigava, who we discovered on etsy, to create something that had never been done before (at least not to my knowledge). We had the original photos blown up, printed on canvas, by HG Arts, and shipped half way around the world, where Binka then began her magic. She used Austrian Swarovski crystals and pearls to hand bead all three photographs, each standing at 3 to 4 feet tall.

The finished art was then strategically placed in the Carousel Bar so that the lights on the carousel canopy would make the beads slowly sparkly as it spun by. This brings a life to the photographs that gives guests a glimmer into the past of these seductive follies and leaves them wanting more.

This was one of the most unique and exciting art pieces I have ever had done for any of my projects. If you are ever in New Orleans, please take a moment to spend some time in the restaurant or bar. At night the bar’s lounge is filled with live jazz music, dancing and a little touch of magic you cant experience anywhere else.

If you are obsessed with Binka like I am, you can buy custom made clothing accessories from her etsy shop, here or you can follow her inspiration blog, here.

What do you think of the art, I would love to hear? Leave your comments below!

-Ashley