The guests for whom we designed the Empathy Suite at the Palms Casino Resort are better informed, more exposed to global influence, and undoubtedly more sophisticated about design than previous generations of former Las Vegas 'high roller' guests. They are more aware of the emotional value of craftsmanship, culture, and quality. When they seek luxury, they look for beauty and wonder that reinforces their ability to love the life they live and share it with their friends.
We designed the Empathy Suite to exceed the expectations of this new guest mentality. We kept the language and syntax of our architecture minimal, while emphasizing the meticulously crafted material palette of white veined gray marble, bleached white oak, frosted waterclear glass, cream white leather, and polished stainless steel.
We had almost completed our design when the owners, who are great collectors of art, asked if we would be interested in having artist Damien Hirst involved in the project. We immediately explored with Hirst every opportunity for the intersection of our work and his – including locations for his commissioned art, modifications to the furniture we chose, and superimposition of his motifs on our material palette. We mutually decided to adjust the design to engage with his large-scale commissioned works throughout the suite and to overlay his emblematic motifs - pills, butterflies, spin art, medical waste, diamonds, and skulls - on our material palette and furniture design. Six of his original works are featured, including Winner/Loser (2018) - two bull sharks suspended in formaldehyde in a white tank set into a wall of the entry vestibule to greet guests upon entry, Casino Royal (2018) - a ten panel collection of his butterfly motifs on monochrome gloss-painted canvases, a Medicine Cabinet called Vegas (2018), The Winner Takes It All (2018), and Money (2018).
At the center of the suite, we carved out a double-height core around which all other public and private suite functions revolve. We activated the core with Hirst’s Here for a Good Time, Not a Long Time (2018) comprised of two suspended vitrines that contain preserved marlins. Below the sculpture, Hirst filled our curved glass and metal bar with visible medical waste to contrast with the meticulous ordering of our materials and his objects throughout the suite.
We flanked the core with living, dining, billiards and media/theater areas, each with our architectural materials and custom furniture, drapery, and rug designs "tattoed" by Hirst with his motifs. The outdoor pool that cantilevers out from the double-height veranda adjacent to the bar features Hirst's butterflies as tile inlays and pill motifs as decals on the surrounding glass. In a salt therapy room we designed on the second floor, Hirst carved butterflies and skulls into the back lighted blocks of pink Himalayan salt.
The overall result of our architecture and design along with Hirst's art engages guests in a relationship of space, light, material and art that rewards them with an authentic and lasting experience.