With his vision for The Kindler Hotel, designer Ross Vincent both stepped back in time and into the future. He relied on fine craftsmanship, rich details and bold geometry to bring a roaring 1920s style into a very 21st century space: a new boutique hotel tucked into the heart of the heartland, in Lincoln, NE.
Ross Vincent is principal at the full-service firm Ross Vincent Design, based in Los Angeles. He spent two years designing every aspect of the $20-million hotel project, drawing upon his knowledge of fine furnishings and extensive experience with hospitality clients.
“First and foremost, I was inspired by Ken Kindler, the namesake of the hotel—an artist, a wonderful father and a Nebraska native—his art spoke more than words,” Vincent said. “Copper and metal abstract art, oil paintings and hanging sculptures were my first introduction before even starting the project. The vibe was set from the start with these inspirational designs.”
Lincoln, now coined the “Silicon Prairie” of the Midwest by Microsoft’s CEO, was in need of a luxury hotel with its insurgence of finance, IT and business clientele. To accommodate these discerning guests, Vincent created a glamorous, immersive experience reminiscent of The Great Gatsby.
For the new seven-story hotel, a vertical expansion of a 1905 building, Vincent opted for what he calls a “Modern Deco” design.
“I also toured Omaha and Lincoln to ensure I wasn’t ‘missing anything’ as I worked through my design,” he explained. “I discovered Art Deco designs in moldings, chandeliers and other designs in historic buildings throughout the area. Nick and his wife Brooke (the owners of the hotel) wanted a modern, luxurious L.A. design. I decided to showcase a ‘Modern Deco’ design. The hotel integrates Nebraska elements and modern elements in the design.”
An Elevated Space
Vincent brought together elements from the Art Deco era of the 1920s and 1930s and married them with cutting-edge design from today, creating the new design concept, Modern Deco. He also designed custom furniture for the project, such as seating and headboards, and to ensure guests will sleep in luxury, appointed the rooms with fine hotel linens, bedding and textiles. The mattresses were also custom designed in Beverly Hills, CA.
“Well, to be completely transparent, I was bringing in certain materials and design elements that local professionals didn’t quite know how to install or incorporate. I hired a specialist that could implement the pieces into the design: linear lighting, inset sofits and zero edge entries and linear drains, just to name a few,” Vincent said.
The Kindler’s owners, Nick and Brooke (née Kindler) Castaneda, personally tapped him to design their hotel. They also partnered with hotel management company IDM Hospitality, a specialist in hospitality for smaller cities like Lincoln that are investing in the service economy to meet the demands of the 21st century. With 49 rooms, The Kindler represents the first boutique hotel in Lincoln, according to the company.
Setting the Stage: The Lobby
Fiery copper accents reference the hotel’s namesake, the late Nebraska artist Ken Kindler. Kindler’s work itself is in evidence in the lobby, with the sculptor’s work on display. Inspired by metal wind chimes sculpted by Ken Kindler, Vincent had chandeliers custom-made that reflect a similar design.
Vincent’s unique use of fire features can also be found in the sumptuous Boitano’s Lounge, where guests enjoy a curated cocktail list and a light menu in a posh Modern Deco environment. The lounge is the brainchild of Brian Boitano, Olympic skating champion turned Food Network star.
National and International Art
Vincent paid homage to this family-owned hotel in other ways, too. As a nod to Nick’s mother, a Norwegian skating champion who later coached generations of ice skaters, he used a vintage picture of her skating, and installed a tiled, pixelated version of it as art in a public ladies room of the hotel.
Turning to his connections in the national and international creative world, Vincent commissioned art for the lobby and hotel rooms by fine art photographer Nicole Landau. Translucently layering photographs, Landau’s artwork produces sensual, elegant abstractions. Vincent also hired the decorative painters of design-world darling Londubh Studio, who created an Art Deco butterfly mural for The Kindler.
Throughout the hotel, touches such as bold uses of dark color; wide, custom-stained Italian hardwood floors; decadent wall sconces; and geometric patterns provide a streamlined, Modern Art Deco vibe.