Ace Hotel got its start in 1999 when Alex Calderwood and HIS FRIENDs renovated an old halfway house in Seattle, transforming it into a small hotel. By absorbing the cultural heritage of surrounding communities and collaborating with various artists and brands, Ace Hotel creates its own collection of hotels, each possessing their own look and feel. Ace HOTEL has not only helped to revive neighborhoods, but it has also breathed new life into the entire hotel industry.
Welcome to the 29th issue of B.
Recently, I read something impressive in a book by Professor Eunguk Seo. In the book, he compares “valuable lives” and “happy lives,” and in contrast to what we’re all taught from childhood, he says a valuable life is not the same things as a happy life. He begins by pointing out that the value of one’s life is often decided by other people’s measures. This means that your life is more influenced by other people’s opinions than what you really like and want to do, so even if you believed your life was valuable, it was probably not happy. The writer offers a rational basis to back up his ideas: research findings that show people with happy experiences and positive attitudes are more likely to be socially successful and establish positive relationships than those who frequently get praised.
This goes the same for the brands that B has covered. Those brands have all been rooted in the lifestyles of their creators, not the opinions of others, and the pure enjoyment and happiness the makers get from their brands have helped those brands grow. It’s no exaggeration to say that the brand makers’ pure enthusiasm for the lifestyles they have chosen has served as the foundation and identity of their businesses. But for some people, the unique styles of management these brands exhibit might not be so well-received, just because they are different from what is typical.
This month, we introduce Ace Hotel, a brand with origins in Seattle that now has branches in a number of other cities and countries. What sets Ace Hotel apart from the other hotels of the world, big and small, is the unique sensibility and vibe that its customers love so much. What I remembered the most from my first visit to Ace Hotel New York was the lobby. The lobby was crowded with people on laptops, and while I couldn’t tell who were the hotel guests and who weren’t, they were all completely focused on what they were doing, like in a library. This immediately changed the preconception I had of hotel lobbies all being neat, well-organized spaces.
Most hotels with exceptionally strong identities, or so-called boutique hotels, generally seem focused on being small-scale and high-fashion. But Ace Hotel did not follow the conventional standard for luxury. They aimed to create a comfortable and relaxing space for people sensitive to culture and trends—and this was what made Ace Hotel special. Instead of occupying popular, highly visible locations, they have chosen less-developed neighborhoods as the sites for hotels that reflect the local communities they are situated in. Ace Hotel incorporates the local vibe and culture of those neighborhoods into its own identity, and aims to grow alongside its guests. The people of Ace say that they appreciate the value of being humble, quiet, and not too glamorous. And they want Ace Hotel to be a place that people just happen to “discover.”
I researched and tried out many different hotels before choosing one brand to introduce in this issue. What made this choice particularly difficult, however, is that there are a great number of hotels that all reveal unique lifestyle concepts in beautiful ways. In the end, we chose Ace Hotel because behind the brand’s unique individuality lies considerable business acumen. The brand has also built diversity and depth through collaborations with other like-minded brands, and they have made significant steps into the hotel industry—a move that conveys something more than a shared vision amongst a small group of people. In this issue, we will share some of the interesting stories we heard during our meetings with hotel executives and employees, as well as some of what we experienced ourselves at Ace Hotel.
Spending time with your loved ones in a space created by someone who shares the same ideas as you—that is a moment of true happiness. I hope that those sorts of spaces will continue to multiply, and that more and more people will spend time with their loved ones in them. Even if that might not be the “successful” life that people generally refer to, I can say for sure that it will be a happy life.
There are forgotten streets and disconnected spaces. B examines the spaces that had their hidden potential discovered when Ace reached out to them.
24 Ace Points
Ace Hotel’s brand collaborations, seen in the hotel’s spaces and interiors, their products and properties as a whole, represent the cultural codes that Ace tries to embrace. Within each Ace Hotel, the lobby is an essential space that is deeply engaged with the community, drawing people in and expressing a new concept for interaction.
Spaces / Collaborations / Curation / Ambience
Ace Hotel eschews well-known, already saturated districts in favor of forgotten neighborhoods where they then lead the creation of new cultural scenes. Seven locals from four cities of Portland, New York, London, and L.A. discuss the changes they observed after Ace came into their neighborhoods.
60 Ace Maps
Around Ace Hotel properties are many commercial and cultural places that share similar sensibilities and values with Ace Hotel. B takes a look around the hotspots recommended by the Ace Hotel staff in four cities.
70 User Choices
Ace Hotel users from all around the world introduce other hotels that they like. Some of these possess a similar ambience to Ace Hotel, while others have a completely different appeal—but Ace Hotel regulars have found something to appreciate in all of them.
77 B’s Cut
Ace’s collaborations demonstrate most clearly the way the brand engages with local communities. B takes a glance at how Ace Hotel interacts with communities through the local products B found here and there in Ace Hotel properties.
90 Brand Story
Taking inspiration from the playing card, Ace Hotel is unprecedented, unique amongst hotel brands in the way it penetrates deep into cities to interact organically with communities of all sorts.
Before Ace / Atelier Ace / Interview / Dear Alex / Portland / Boutique Hotel History
People coming together in an Ace Hotel. The ultimate goal of Ace is to play a key part in revitalizing local culture and connecting people.
- Suyong Joh
- Editor In Chief
- Taehyuk Choi
- Senior Editor
- Eunsung Park
- Heeyoung Yoo, Yunseong Jang, Bora Nam
- Translation Editor
- Heejean Kim
- Hyunkyung Yoo, Rancy Kim, Seongae Yang, Soonok Hwang
- Copy Editing
- Eugene Larsen-Hallok, Heeyoung Yoo
- Simon Chan
- Intern Editor
- Jaeeun Shin
- Hyeseon Jeong (France), Jeewon Lim (Italy), Mihye Nam (Japan), Nari Park (UK)
- Guest Editors
- Eunah Kim, Hyeyoung Sohn, Jungmin Hwang, Minseok Yoo
- JOH & Company
- Senior Designer
- Younghyun Ok
- Ayoon Jung
- Film Designer
- Onedoe Jung
- Junga Hwang, Juyeon Lee, Minhong Ahn, Rei Moon, Siyoung Song
- Inwook Song, Hyekyung Shin
- Sunyoung Park, Inhyub Kang
- Nohseon Song, Eunyoung Lim
- JOH & Company
- Top Process
- Printed in the Republic of Korea
- 978-89-98415-57-0 03050
- Casa Brutus – 170th issue, Fast Company – 2014 July/August issue
- Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life
- TV Series Portlandia
- This Is Portland: The City You’ve Heard You Should Like