(Ph. courtesy of American Trade Hotel)The Panama Canal is 100 this month—felicidades! To celebrate the momentous occasion while satisfying our all-consuming eye for design, we're taking this week's installment of Monday Design Daydream way down to the point where two oceans meet. At the American Trade Hotel, Ace Hotel's newest outpost in Panama City's UNESCO-designated Casco Viejo neighborhood, global influences come together to form a high-style space that is at once steeped in history and thoroughly modern.
Spread out over a succession of buildings with markedly different aesthetics and heritage, the hotel represents a dynamic stylistic and historical melting pot. The main building's neo-classical façade was designed by renowned architect Leonardo Villanueva Mayer, known for founding the “Bellavistina” style, while an adjoining mansard-roofed building stands as living proof of the French architectural influence that resulted from the European country's prevalence in Panama during the late 19th century.
The design, a collaboration between Atelier Ace, LA-based Commune Design, and Panama-based Hache Uve, is also an amalgam of contrasting elements that come together in surprising harmony. An eclectic mix of influences—ranging from Austrian secessionist to Mexican modernist to Italian postmodern, and of course, tropical colonialism—form interiors that feel airy, contemporary, and homey all at once (think creamy bead board walls, handsome Nicaraguan wood furniture, sinuous rattan rocking chairs, and intricate Moroccan tilework.)
The vibe of the interior courtyards and pool, the design of which was directed by Commune, is inspired by the eclecticism of Marrakesh and the languorous ease of Colombian haciendas—and achieved with a mix of French modern industrial, colonial, and ranch-style furniture that stands in graphic contrast to the lush green of the tropical environs. The rooms feel personal but casually stately, exuding the feel of a perfectly-appointed private home—albeit one with stunning views, including Casco’s sweeping plazas, historic churches, and the birthday subject itself: the Panama Canal.