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Return to 1962 at the TWA Hotel

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

Already heralded as one of the most anticipated hotel openings this year, and maybe even the decade, the new TWA Hotel is a remarkable salute to the golden era of air travel. Housed in the former TWA terminal at JFK airport in New York, the property pays tribute to the 1960's design aesthetic by staying true to that era, all thanks to some incredible design.

This month we are speaking with two individuals intimately involved in the creation of this fantastic project, to learn what it’s like celebrating that era, recreating an iconic mid century design aesthetic, and uncovering the unique challenges of meshing today’s standards with the look of yesteryear.

Interview with Sara Duffy, Senior Interiors Associate

Stonehill Taylor

How do you incorporate new technology into a vintage design? The whole concept was inspired by the year 1962, when the original TWA terminal made its debut, so there were numerous elements we focused on to bring technology to a vintage aesthetic. I think the most interesting thing is that every room has a 1950’s Western Electric 500 rotary phone retrofitted with modern technology. Of course, we also wanted to make sure it was easy to plug in electronics with outlets at the bed, desk, minibar and bathroom.

What were the pros and cons of using the original structure of the terminal? Our original scope was the guestrooms, which are housed in two new structures. The challenge we faced was making the guestroom design stand on its own, while still letting the Saarinen building be the real star. As designers, being associated with an Eero Saarinen building is awesome and overwhelming. We felt honored to be a part of this.

How did you turn an empty shell of a plane into the Connie cocktail lounge? How did you find the seating? We were so excited when Tyler Morse [MCR Development] asked us to design the inside of the Connie. Our edict was that it had to be 1962 but feel luxurious and give guests a taste of what travel was like in the golden age. We sourced 12 original Connie seats, and we had them upholstered with fabrics reminiscent of that era. Then we designed banquettes that line either side of the plane paired with small tulip tables, giving the space a more cocktail lounge feel. Fun fact, The Connie (or Constellation jet) has a navigator’s station with a window in the ceiling where the pilots could look at stars and direct the flight team.