There are gay bars, gay nightclubs, and even gay cruises, so why not gay hotels? Such was the thinking of Brian Gorman, who recently opened the Miami branch of the first (openly) gay hotel chain. Called Lords, the new outpost is a renovated 1930s deco house done up by the New York-based design studio BHDM in bright yellows and aquamarines, midcentury-modern-inspired furniture, and patches of glitz and glam.
Gorman didn't jump into the venture blindly. Having worked under real estate powerhouse Michael Shvo, he understood the importance of creating a strong product for a particular audience and did his market research, commissioning a survey of 20,000 gay Americans in his target cities (New York, L.A., Vegas, Miami, and San Francisco). Of those surveyed, more than 75% said that they would choose to stay at a gay property. "From there," Gorman says, "we did a lot in creating a brand that would – yes, focus on that demographic – but it's really about making anyone feel comfortable. You know, so many products in the boutique world are about "We're so cool that, like, if you want to walk into the lobby, you have to put on the sunglasses, instead of taking them off. What I wanted was a place where people would come and automatically be disarmed by the design."
Given the splashes of beach-y yellows and aquas, guests might still be tempted to leave the shades on, but the hotel does capture what Gorman calls the "golden age of fun" and the outdoor-indoor feel of Miami. "It was supposed to be something spirited, happy, playful but definitely well designed that a discerning gay audience would appreciate, and something different than they've seen before," says Dan Mazzarini, who designed the 54-room hotel with his partner, Brian Humphrey. That "something different" includes unexpected touches like a glittery gold bar and a giant fake polar bear in the lobby, which has become a kind of mascot for the hotel.
Gorman plans roll out more properties tailored to various cities across the United States — quickly. Lords South Beach took a head-spinning four months from beginning to end, and Gorman anticipates a similar timeline going forward. "I think more time makes for an overdesigned, overthought product, whereas what we did was from the gut."
Republished with permission from Co.Design/FastCompany.com. Authored by Belinda Lanks. Photos via Co.Design.