Turning Japanese


US: New York based architect David Rockwell, has completed work on the US flagship Yotel, inspired by Japanese capsule hotels and the airline experience. Situated in Manhattan’s theatre district on 42nd Street and 10th Avenue, the 669-room urban hotel is designed by Rockwell Group and UK-based design firm Softroom.

To transform the exterior of the building into a beacon for the hotel, Rockwell Group added dimensional pre-cast concrete surfacing lit with LEDs to the façade, based on the Yotel lozenge logo. The portal is made of backlit frosted glass. The 18-floor venue is covered in its brand colours of purple, blue, beige and green.

The target audience is on-the-go world travellers who are coming to New York for a short stay, who want to be in the middle of the action.


“Rockwell Group, in collaboration with Softroom, took the existing DNA from the previous Yotel properties and then channelled them into the New York location. This property is very different from the others since it is in a city centre, so the whole layout is different, and there is a much larger assortment of programme areas,” said Rockwell.

“We wanted to create a trendy, central, maximum efficiency hotel with great outdoor and indoor public spaces in the heart of New York.” The lobby is streamlined and futuristic with a warm bamboo canopy covering the robotic baggage drop-off and electronic check-in kiosks.

The luggage robot is the central feature of the space, a theatrically lit machine whose inner-workings are exposed to create a mechanical performance for guests as it loads their belongings. On the 4th floor is a 105-seat restaurant inspired by the Japanese dojo, and a small gym.

It has a 20,000 square foot outdoor terrace lounge, the largest in Manhattan. This space is landscaped with bamboo trees, private cabanas and VIP area. ‘The Yotel brand itself, including the design, is based on the concept of Japanese capsule hotels and the luxury airline experience: modern, maximum efficiency, state-of-the-art, small scale,” said Rockwell.

“The lobby is important because it is the first experience people will have of the hotel. The technology and design is meant to be modern, user-friendly, and efficient. The Yobot adds excitement to the luggage handling. The message is this is a 21st centuryt hotel that speaks to today’s tech savvy customers.

“The guest rooms are bright, clean, modern, and cutting edge. The bed transforms into a lounging position at the touch of a button, a techno wall houses the TV and storage components, and a modern bathroom is wrapped in glass, located on the window wall. Because the rooms are compact, we made them highly efficient, tech-savvy, bright and modern.

To make the 10×17 cabins feel more spacious, we put the bathroom on the window wall, and wrapped them in glass. This lets light stream into the room, while also making the space seem larger and flowing. When not sleeping, the bed transforms into a lounging position, leaving more space for guests to move around,” he added.

Current projects include the W Paris-Opéra, new Imagination Playground products, a furniture collection with Moroso and a fabric collection with Jim Thompson, Hyatt’s first Andaz Wailea resort in Hawaii, a Nobu Hotel in Las Vegas, the Juana Manso mixed-use complex in Buenos Aires, and a Nobu restaurant in Doha.

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