I was a little awestruck when I approached SoHo’s 11Howard, the newly opened Aby Rosen hotel in NY. There was still a downtown street corner with edge to it? I had thought 9/11 safety requirements and Carrie Bradshaw admirers had replaced ‘divy yet authentic’ with those ‘living-the-celebrity-life-they-so-deserved.’ But what did I know? I did not live here anymore or visit much, which just goes to show things can change in a New York minute.
That familiar New York intensity, “Pull up to the curb more. Keys!” just did not exist with 11Howard’s hotel staff. Instead I was met with casual-calm. “How was your drive?” the valet asked as I gave him my keys and wondered if I knew him, he was that friendly. A “Welcome in” from the doorman instantly dissolved the tension that driving over the Triboro and through the city had caused (the FDR was backed up and I will never call it the RFK.) Check in was swift and efficient at reception which equaled one 30” round table with two tablets and the swapping of my luggage for a key card. So hygge.
I rode the elevator with brass elements and subtle 60’s vibe up to my floor and when the doors opened I was surprised again. Was I back in Copenhagen? Lamps artfully displayed to create soothing pools of light, raw and natural textiles were used for beds and windows, a striking yet soothing color palette with minimalist furniture. The effect was very Danish which made sense after learning that architect Adna Andrie was hired as the Creative Director at 11Howard and she had paired up with Danish interior design firm SPACE Copenhagen in creating the hotel’s look. So hygge.
I also learned from a recent Paper Magazine interview with Aby Rosen that the differentiating factors he saw from other NYC boutique hotels for 11Howard were respectful staff and to be socially conscious. Rosen has collaborated with Global Poverty Project, Feed, Groundswell, Concious Commerce, and Thrive Market to align his hotel guests with an opportunity to give back. 11Howard gives a chance for the high to contribute to the low. So hygge.
Hygge (“heu-gah”) is a Danish word that is hard to define and one that I recently studied in Copenhagen. It took me several architectural tours, Danish lifestyle lectures, museum visits, design show room visits, and a day picking the brain of architect Bo Christiansen of Scale Denmark to understand hygge. Hygge exists when the design needs of a space are created in a pragmatic, sophisticated and efficient way while the social and psychological needs of the people occupying it are also met. A direct result from a social democratic society that takes care of it’s people ‘as one,’ hygge allows for the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming so you can take pleasure in the gentle, soothing things surrounding you.
“A more hygge-focused culture could contribute not just to happier individuals and families but also to more caring communities and a happier society as a whole.” explains Dr. Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness.”*
If it was hygge they were trying to create through the design and service at 11Howard, it was an outlet to defy conformity that was felt in The Blonde, the hotel’s bar. Antiqued mirrors, brass woodland creatures, gold velvet upholstery – all of this was inspiring me to do something wild like, oh I don’t know, wear a black thong with teal heels and bend over the back of their sofa. Time for the library.
11Howard also has a library where collaborative and creative ‘think tank’ meetings are held for area businesses. It’s also where you can just relax with a cup of tea. “Don’t you see why we must hire him as creative head?” the executive exclaimed as I passed by. And while I had no idea what they were talking about I knew why they chose this space to talk about it, Anda Andrei.
Cheers and Enjoy,