Situated in Marfa – a remote West Texas town with a thriving arts community – this contemporary boutique hotel in fact stands on the same site as the original Hotel Saint George of 1886.
The current of creative activity that underpins this unlikely location began in the ’70s, when the famed minimalist artist Donald Judd began to purchase properties in Marfa for the installation of his work, as well as that of his contemporaries.
Under Judd, a 340 acre disused army base became a museum for the permanent installation of large-scale works – a site which still exists today as The Chinati Foundation.
Judd’s creative endeavour set a precedent in Marfa, and even following his death in 1994 artists and galleries continue to make their home here.
To ignore this unusual creative backdrop would have been a missed opportunity for HKS, and indeed the design team has drawn inspiration both from the minimalist art the town is famed for and the austere beauty of the surrounding desert plains for Hotel Saint George’s interior.
Some of the site’s existing structure was able to be salvaged and – when combined with industrial materials such as the concrete floors, cold rolled steel and reclaimed brick, marble and wood from local sites – it sets a simple, unpretentious tone for the hotel’s interior spaces.
This simple, yet sophisticated style is punctuated by vintage and custom furniture pieces from both high and humble origins and – perhaps most importantly –a world-class art collection befitting of Marfa’s special artistic spirit.
The site’s original columns and dark, lustrous steel-clad core provide the perfect canvas for retro furnishings and industrial-style centrepieces in the hotel lobby. Local fabricator SILLA has crafted a mahogany and steel reception desk which stretches the length of the lobby space, according to a bespoke design from HKS.
Classic Alvar Aalto lounge chairs are arranged in groups to encourage a casual and comfortable living room atmosphere, in which guests and locals can connect and relax.
Marfa Book Company – an independent bookstore nationally-acclaimed for its diverse array of art, literature and design tomes – has returned to its original 1996 site, and is now part of the hotel’s lobby. This unconventional shop and gift space features bookshelves and fixtures crafted by local artisans from repurposed raw materials.
Elsewhere, the hotel’s eclectic destination restaurant, LaVenture, serves up rustic, American-style cuisine with French and Italian influences. The dining area and bar space pays homage to years past with vintage rugs, repurposed brick and wood from dismantled local buildings, and marble from the hotel’s former façade.
The furnishings here convey classic sophistication, with chairs designed by Mies van der Rohe used as a reference to the Bauhaus style admired by Donald Judd.
The 55 guest rooms and suites, meanwhile, have been designed in an understated, streamlined fashion, with hints of industrial flair and a considered balance of materials and textures.
Accentuating the platform bed is a felt-lined wall inset with a recessed mirror which spans the length of space. Bespoke open closets, complete with metal frames and wooden shelves, house amenities and personal items, while expansive glazing looks across the landscape’s plateau to the 2350m high Chinati Peak of the mountains beyond.
Distressed leather and lustrous steel elements have been paired with softer touches, like the sheepskin rugs and white cotton bedding – all accented by contemporary paintings from Texan artist, Mark Flood.