The new Canopy Memphis recently debuted in the city’s historic downtown steps from Beale Street with a design that embraces the cultural legacy of its locale. Tracey Sawyer, founder and CEO of Sawyer & Company, the interior design team behind the Canopy Memphis, says the overall design approach for each of the group’s projects “begins with a thorough analysis of the local environment, history, and culture” to create a sense of place. For the Canopy Memphis, the team created an overarching theme—“Steel and Smoke at the Delta”—that ties in the city’s rich history in the arts, its impact on the broader American culture, and historic developments in transportation, including the age of steamboats navigating the Mississippi River, the rise of Route 61 (the “Blues Highway”), and construction of steel bridges, all of which, Sawyer explains, “helped establish Memphis as an important cultural crossroads that brought people from around the region together to share creative ideas.” Throughout the property’s 174 guestrooms and common areas, the team implemented design details that align with this theme—“from the bedroom lighting mimicking music studio microphones to steel structures and metallic finishes in the common areas that echo the area’s major infrastructure,” Sawyer describes. “The variety of unique spaces within the Canopy Memphis allowed us to weave a robust narrative throughout the property, which we think appropriately reflects the vibrant spirit of Memphis, the cultural currency created around the corner on the legendary Beale Street, and a bright future for the city as it moves into a new era.”
“The color scheme is influenced by the metallic details in the city, ‘smoke and steel,’ and combined with flourishes seen on vintage automobiles—poppy, lacquered colors that create lively accents to the darker metals,” Sawyer describes. “The nod to classic autos complements the darker tones of the public spaces while making for an interesting play against the lighter tones found in the guestrooms.”
Details and finishes on furniture reference the staging of a recording studio. “The upholstered bed bases and headboard panels are offset by deep blue vinyl accents, and tobacco-colored leather-look vinyl chairs sit beneath an ebonized wooden desk frame. Wall sconces recall microphones, and car seat details are layered in the seating throughout,” Sawyer notes.
For the guestroom headboards, a signature of Hilton’s Canopy brand, the design team again drew inspiration from elements commonly seen in recording studios. “Natural materials like woven cane absorb and contain sound and were used in the early days of studio recording. In the guestrooms, they add a complement of organic luxury juxtaposed with metallic finishes and elements,” Sawyer says.
“The in-room art was inspired by album covers, musical instruments, and classic cars—all symbolic of Memphis’ heritage,” Sawyer says. “With such an impressive history of music and car culture in the city, these elements help to reinforce a sense of time and place even within the most intimate of environments within the hotel.”