As We See It

Local design firm mobs up an El Cortez room

The Big Sleep” designed by Tina Enard of Reno-based Urban Design Studio and the winner of the Design a Suite contest at the El Cortez in Las Vegas Thursday, February 3, 2011.
Photo: Leila Navidi

When your hotel’s former owners include a roster of colorful mob bosses like Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, ignoring the past is practically sinful. And so El Cortez executives embraced their property’s history on February 3, selecting a design reflective of the 70-year-old hotel-casino’s mobster roots for its newest accommodations.

Panorama: El Cortez Design-a-Suite contest: The Big Sleep

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By Justin M. Bowen

El Cortez: Competing to Redesign History, Part 3


See 360-degree panoramas of the other finalists
The Rec Room
El Contempo
From the archive
El Cortez aims at younger downtown crowd with revamped suites (02/02/11)
A Suite Deal: El Cortez redesign, on a budget (11/29/10)

Urban Design Studio’s “Big Sleep” suite took the top honor last week in a six-month-long Design-A-Suite competition that challenged four Nevada-licensed design teams to each revamp a 600-square-foot room at the hotel for about $20,000. The winning Reno-based design firm will get to expand its design to six more suites at the El Cortez over the next few months.

Tina Enard, lead designer and owner of Urban Design Studio, said her team’s goal was to merge contemporary elements with old Vegas charm to create “the perfect blend between crime and charisma.”

“We love it. It’s comfortable and it’s fun,” Enard says. “It doesn’t just look like your typical hotel room, and that’s something we always try to do—bring a little entertainment in. It’s got that Old Vegas vibe, which is what this hotel is all about.”

Nearly every piece in the suite was carefully selected by Enard and her team to represent elements of Las Vegas. An all-white sofa accented with colorful pillows is meant to evoke the bright lights of the Strip, and the gray and black striped carpet is suggestive of a mobster’s pinstripe suit. Across the room, an oversized yellow wingback chair behind a glass desk is where the big boss might sit, Enard says. A tumbleweed lamp and faux crocodile skull sit next to a wall-sized mural of a desert full of secrets.

“It’s a really weird mixture,” Enard acknowledges of the suite’s decor, which also includes a bowl of bullet casings. The low-budget accent would feel odd in any other Las Vegas hotel room, but the bullets fit naturally with the suite’s modern mob den vibe. Now all that’s missing is a tray of cannoli.

Steal their style

El Cortez Suite Winner

1. Mount a mural Turning your favorite cityscape or landscape into a wall mural can not only spruce up some dull stucco, but also give depth to a space. You can order photo murals online from companies like American Imaging and Artistic Homeowner for as little as $6 per square foot. The murals come in panels and can be installed by anyone with a steady hand.

2. Add some ammo art Enard picked up empty bullet casings from a Las Vegas shooting range to add a final mob touch to the room. Stop by a local shooting range and ask for a bag of your own, as long as they know its for art’s sake.

3. Pump up the color Add pops of color to all-white bedding or furniture with brightly colored pillows or throws. Save money by covering your old throw pillows with new fabrics. Local stores like Home Fabrics have hundreds of patterns to choose from.

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