Ace Hotel is an American hotel brand with hotels in Miami, New York, Beverly Hills and Palm Springs. Each hotel has a different identity, based on their location. The locations are carefully chosen and within the industry Ace Hotels have become known as a catalyst for gentrification. Often the choice of location reflects a certain 'civic responsibility'.

Ace Hotel's Shoreditch,London, project was a highly sought after commission and was pitched for by many architects and interior practices. However Ace chose to work with Universal Design Studios, a practice new to hotel design yet one that lived and breathed the characteristics of Shoreditch.

Jason Holley, director at Universal Design Studios explains the theory behind the design. The aim was to create an ambience of staying in a friend's flat. This atmosphere was identified as feelings of familiarity, individuality and relaxation and which was then conveyed through the layout, furnishings and decoration.

Firstly the standard rooms hold so much more than a bed and an awkward armchair. Looking at one example (all the rooms follow a different template), you can see how furniture breaks up the room into a sleeping and living space. There is a built in large double bed with an adjacent bookcase separating the bed from a large 'L-shaped' sofa and round table, meaning the space is in a format that can really be lived in.

The furniture is also by no means under designed in its own right. The furniture used is a similar mixture used in homes, an eclectic mix of old and new. Wherever possible, the pieces are sourced from independent suppliers in Shoreditch. For example, the quilt on the bed was designed and made just around the corner and as a result it is a beautiful unique piece for the hotel but importantly it allows the locals to feel a part of this large addition to their 'village'.

The final touches in the room grant the hotel its Shoreditch persona, rather than the usual factory prints Universal Design Studios have reproduced a working wall, complete with pin board and shelf which doubles as decoration. A box stuffed full of sweets and pot noodle is another quirky reminder of home within this expansive hotel.

The communal areas carry on the moody colour palette and raw materials juxtaposed with features like an old bike, and photo booth. These additions work as art sculptures and relax the atmosphere. The furniture is carefully chosen and cleverly zoned into different areas – there is a large communal table and several softer spaces with a sofa, coffee table and armchairs. Around the corner is a bar and DJ set up. All these aspects contribute to the flexible laid-back appeal of this large space.

Overall the result is a very sensitive design that means that even on the rainy Tuesday morning Barnebys visited the hotel there was not a single seat to be had in the extensive living areas! It is hugely popular with tourists and locals as it seamlessly holds upmarket parties, work functions and a morning coffee break. The success of what is essentially a corporate hotel is from the ownership the local people have taken upon it.

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