Ghislaine Viñas Co-Designs Andra Hem, an Atypical B&B
If you can survive the 2-hour line to get into Andra Hem, Philadelphia’s chicest new night spot, you’re in for a rather delicious cocktail. The recipe: An ounce of hotel, a teaspoon of art, a twist of bar, a shot of lounge. Shake vigorously! Pour over ice and garnish with honey from the rooftop bee farm. Who is the crafty mixologist behind this spirited typological concoction? Why, it’s New York designer Ghislaine Viñas, teaming with her longtime friend and client/muse, art collector and dealer Paige West. The creative partners in crime have collaborated on too-many-to-count endeavors over just as many years. “Paige and I have been working together forever,” Viñas happily affirms. “One day we’re gonna be little old ladies, still designing projects.”
Let’s hope so! Each joint effort gets more intriguing. This 7,700-square-foot, four-story property, for instance, encompasses an intimate bilevel bar and, above, two one-bedroom floor-through suites. Although Andra Hem is the pair’s first full-on hospitality venture, the typology is not entirely without precedent: West makes an art form of giving her houseguests the hotel treatment. “It’s how Paige hosts friends and family,” Viñas notes of the Philadelphia native. “There’s always a minibar in the guest bedroom, a signature cocktail, branded towels, and things like that. It’s what spins her wheels.”
Envisioning the Design of Andra Hem, a Bar With Guest Suites Above
West initially purchased the Rittenhouse Square site, a quaint but derelict former apartment building with a ground-floor restaurant, intending to convert it into an exhibition space, but ultimately realized it was too small to house the program she’d envisioned. She secured another spot in the city for that purpose and hatched the idea to use this edifice as a kind of artsy micro B&B—albeit with booze instead of breakfast—maybe for rental, maybe just for use by acquaintances (so far, it’s been only the latter). In search of a strong concept, designer and client dove into Philly history, and discovered that Swedes were among the first settlers. Honoring that Scandinavian heritage made sense on a personal level, too, given that West is of Danish ancestry.
The venue’s name came first: “Andra hem means second home in Swedish,” Viñas explains. “It sounded like a lady’s name, so we conceived this as her residence.” The duo embarked on a tour of Stockholm for inspiration, but ultimately decided to be more irreverent than culturally slavish. “It’s not supposed to be a Swedish establishment at all,” Viñas emphasizes. “If you come here expecting traditional Swedish food, you’re going to be disappointed! It’s more about ripping off ingredients and classics and creating something new.”
Artful Accents and Custom Designs Create an Inviting Interior
That goes for the décor as well, starting with the artwork that hangs behind the ground-floor bar, an 1800’s portrait from West’s private collection that lacked provenance so had minimal market value. The two had the canvas doctored with a layer of painted-on iconography—a bee, flowers, stylized waves—by Mark Mulroney, another frequent collaborator. (His quirkily surrealist murals also embellish the bar’s restrooms.) That retro-meets-futurist mashup encapsulates the entire project. “We juxtaposed a very traditional Swedish architecture layer with these wacky elements that tie into the overall narrative,” Viñas explains. Firmly in the trad column is the custom wall paneling, a concentric-square relief pattern based on one they’d encountered in an ancient Stockholm restaurant. In the wacky column, meanwhile, is Kim Alsbrooks’s framed miniature portraits painted on crushed beer cans. Lying somewhere in between classic and wack-tastic are David Trubridge’s swirly bentwood pendant globe upstairs, which call to mind barber poles or maybe sinister hard candy. “I get butterflies when I see those lights,” Viñas says. “Something about them ties back to a childhood memory I can’t quite place. I have a very beautiful emotional connection to these.”
The two floors of the bar are a pas de deux of similarity and difference. Viñas used the same furniture, paneling, and floral wallpaper on both levels, but altered the color palette (peacock-blue downstairs, mustard-and-black upstairs). She performed the same sleight of hand in the stacked suites, which share an identical layout and furniture plan but feature different fabrics—all bowl-you-over botanicals by mid-century Swedish icon Josef Frank. The trippy DayGlo-toned linen tenting the fourth-floor suite’s bedroom is Viñas’s favorite. “I could just stare at it all day; it’s so vibrant and exquisite.”
The riot of color and pattern that unifies the petite property is both a constant in Vinas’s work yet something of a departure. “I love when things clash, especially in small rooms,” she says. “Here, I really pushed for things to live together that shouldn’t, which was hard for me to do, because my design is so much about control.” It was worth it, she adds. “I loved being pushed outside my comfort zone.” All in the interest of putting guests into theirs, of course.
A Closer Look at the Colorful Cocktail Bar
Inside the Guest Suites at Andra Hem
- 57st. design
- beautiful bed company
- benjamin moore & co.
- Blu Dot
- bold lighting
- coil + drift
- david trubridge
- design public group
- designtex; hbf textiles
- established & sons
- flavor paper
- georgia lacey interiors
- Ghislaine Viñas
- grout 360
- harmony contract furniture
- hospitality design
- Hotel Design
- imagine tile
- Jason Varney
- Jen Renzi
- joss & main
- kjartan oskarsson studio
- ligne roset
- lumen 8
- p.e. guerin
- restaurant design
- signs visual industries
- Stokes Architecture + Design
- svenskt tenn
- through 1stdibs
- west collection
- Wolf Gordon
Chet Architecture and Ghislaine Viñas Celebrate the Past With This Striking Staircase
2021 Best of Year winner for Staircase. An adventurous spirit is nowhere more evident than in the monolithic, sculptural spiral staircase linking the second floor and the converted attic designed by Chet Architecture and…
This Vibrant Burger Bar Offers a Fresh Take on the Retro Diner, Catering to Digital Natives
Catering to digital natives who favor bite-size content and burgers, SLDR, by New York studio Bluarch, offers a fresh take on the retro diner
Ghislaine Viñas Creates a Calm Yet Vibrant Getaway in Palm Beach, Florida
Ghislaine Viñas creates a calm yet vibrant Palm Beach, Florida, getaway that celebrates the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean.
Gensler and MaRS Design a Community-Minded Office Building in Denver
Block 162, an office tower in Denver designed by Gensler and MaRS, features a perfect balance of art, amenities, and Rocky Mountain vibes.
Acro Suites, a Clifftop Resort, Wows in Crete
Afoi Orfanaki and CMH Architecture make the most of a precipitous clifftop site for Acro Suites, a resort near Agia Pelagia on the island of Crete.
A Pediatric Cancer Center in Spain Brings the Outdoors In
For this pediatric cancer center design, nature motifs in murals and interactive installations craft a kid-friendly healthcare environment.