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Mister H

The "behind the scenes" aesthetic of the Mondrian SoHo's Mister H lounge reveals a hot spot for locally-sourced design

by Karen Day in Design on 01 March 2011

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In sharp contrast to the Mondrian SoHo's pronounced "La Belle et la Bête" theme is the hotel's swanky bar and lounge, Mister H. While the rest of the Benjamin Noriega Ortiz-designed, 270-room hotel lends itself to French trim, Mister H has a decidedly Chinatown glow, with a "behind the scenes" ambiance conceived by Armin Amiri—the man behind exclusive NYC hot spots like Socialista and Bungalow 8.

The buzz surrounding Mister H would imply it's merely the latest place for models and celebs to stylishly sip a cocktail, but design nerds and die-hard New Yorkers also have reason to pay visit. Director of Design for Morgans Hotel Group, Heather Maloney explains the bar is actually a display of local creativity, with most of the materials and props sourced from around New York, beginning with the "this is not a brothel" neon sign. Created by Chinatown lighting specialist Let There Be Neon, the sign is a recreation of a small metal plaque adorning the exterior of a now-defunct brothel in the neighborhood. Maloney says she found the image while doing a Google search for things relating to brothels, and it spawned the bar's overall design aesthetic.

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The local groove continues throughout the petite space, with a teal and white checkerboard floor, a DJ booth and the front of the bar all hand painted by F.W. Schmitz out of Long Island. Large, second-hand authentic Persian rugs were obtained from Paul De Beer, a retired Dutch engineer living on the Upper East Side. Reportedly flying to Iran twice a year to find the vintage carpets, De Beer sells his stock on Craiglist.

The design team also commissioned original paintings by NYC-based artist Gregory de la Haba, which combine Chinese astrology's "Year of the Rabbit" with an "Alice In Wonderland" whimsy.

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Hanging behind the gauze curtains on the wall opposing the bar is another Let There Be Neon sign, written in Chinese and translating to "Happy Drunk Love." Maloney explains they chose these three words because they wanted to maintain a relaxed atmosphere but also "wanted to say something upbeat that reflected that Chinatown flavor."

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Hanging in each of the two bathrooms are gorgeous chandeliers Maloney found on Etsy, which are handcrafted by Studio Jota out of the Bronx. She says she chose them for their muted tones, explaining it's hard to find a chandelier that doesn't use a lot crystal. The beaded fixtures illuminate the intricately patterned, hand-screened wallpaper by Brooklyn's Flavor Paper studio. The two styles—"Sassy Toile" and "Celestial Dragon"—are in custom colors chosen by the collaborative Mister H design team.

Behind a beaded curtain by Spanish brand Daisy Cake is a tucked away (and most likely VIP) area, that hosts a long cushioned couch and walls bedecked with original photos of classic film noir stars, sourced around eBay and housed in an assortment of random frames.

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The lounge is accented by shiny red lanterns designed by NYC-based couture lighting specialist Abyu, which mimic the shape of the quintessential hat worn by working men in China. Adding to the "love nest" feeling is a beautiful bird cage from Barreveld International, an upstate New York outfit that sells vintage pieces to the retail industry.

While many establishments keep their sources a secret, Maloney explains the Morgans Hotel Group likes to promote and show appreciation for people who do their job well and deserve recognition. Mister H officially opens today, and will will be open regularly Tuesday through Saturday from 10pm to 4am.

Rooms at the new Mondrian SoHo hotel start at $309 per night for a Superior room and can be booked online. See more images of Mister H in the gallery below. Images by Karen Day.

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