Redesign Evokes History and Change: The Lobby at The Darwin Hotel

In December 2022, Hospitality Ventures Management Group added the 111-room Darwin Hotel to its portfolio and oversaw a complete rebranding and renovation of the former independent hotel. Along with eight individually themed suites, the hotel features a unique lobby that commemorates Atlanta’s culture, featuring art, crafts, and locally roasted coffee and pastry. “We hope to showcase the best of what Atlanta has to offer,” owner Navin Patel says. “This hotel is a love letter to our ever-changing city and pays homage to its history.” The redesign and name of The Darwin Hotel (after the famed evolutionary biologist) symbolize the transformation of the locale. “The neighborhood has seen significant change, and this theme is carried throughout the property,” remarks Billie Potticary Thorne, principal, C+TC Design Studio, who worked on the project. Thorne gives several examples of implementing the theme: “Behind the front desk, there are paper airplanes, exemplifying that a small change from something simple like a piece of paper can create something incredible. On the bar face, we chose oval tile as a reference to a time capsule and the changing of time. And you’ll see hourglasses throughout the lobby.” C+TC Design Studio also took measures to keep the design both stylish and cost-effective. “We used a limited amount of millwork to create very targeted and intentional areas in the property, which helped to keep the project on budget,” Thorne explains. Lastly, in keeping with the evolution theme, the lobby is not a static creation: “We’ve intentionally created areas to be blank canvases, but nothing feels empty. The space is designed to have additional layers added throughout time and allow for continued change.”

1A Meaningful Mural

American politician and civil rights activist John Robert Lewis “is an icon for many reasons, particularly for all the change he brought forth,” says Billie Potticary Thorne, principal, C+TC Design Studio. “The owner’s vision of a mural was realized on the large blank wall at the entry, creating the first impression of a symbol of hope, optimism, and positive change.”

2Showcasing Atlanta Artists

The work of up-and-coming local artists is displayed on a pegboard, which “creates an easy way to change out art as new artists come along,” Thorne explains. “There are also cubbies in the lobby that are designed for artists to display their work.”

3Mix off Seating Options

Seating variety supports different guest experiences. Thorne says, “There is relaxing lounge seating, and we included dining tables for casual seating where you can work from your laptop while you enjoy a coffee. We also included director’s chairs as a nod to Atlanta’s booming film industry, and we also have a communal table for large parties.”

4Musical Nostalgia

Music is a big part of Atlanta’s history and culture, and the hotel even includes an Audiophile Room. Accordingly, the lobby’s central cabinets feature stacks of cassette tapes. “There’s music in the cassette tapes from the 1940s and up; it creates a really fun and nostalgic visual,” says Thorne.

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George Seli is the editor of LODGING.