The Peninsula Chicago first opened its doors in January of 2001. Throughout its distinguished tenure in the heart of downtown Chicago, the award-winning hotel has continued to set the standard for luxury and excellence. The property has always been intent on evolving and enhancing the guest experience in all aspects. As the exclusive provider of the floral installations and décor for The Peninsula Chicago, KEHOE DESIGNS is grateful for the trust they have bestowed on us to bring their creative vision to life over the past two decades. Here is a look at some highlights.
Design Challenge Accepted
Among the many divisions we have at KEHOE DESIGNS we have a department called Weeklies. This production division handles clients such as The Peninsula Chicago. These accounts require ongoing weekly care and attention. In addition, bringing warmth and life to the finest hotels, private residences, corporate offices, and retail environments with our unique floral creations.
In 2010 Lala Rojas was hired to head up the Weeklies division. One of her first assignments was to meet with The Peninsula client, Greg Hyder. The hotel was in need of something new. Something that would set the iconic, luxury property apart from all other Peninsula properties. The design concept had to be fresh and innovative — incorporating new colors and featuring unexpected elements. And they were pressed for time! Inspired by the warm color palette of The Peninsula interiors that featured hues of coral, yellow, and lime green — Lala quickly took stock of available inventory. She swiftly generated a concept that resulted in a stunning, contemporary design that appeared as if the arrangement was suspended in mid-air. When Hyder was later asked for feedback on how Lala had done, he exclaimed, “She rocks!”. And the rest is history.
Holidays on Ice – Rooftop Ice That Is
Our Weeklies go beyond the floral creations. We know life’s biggest moments are important to celebrate, and The Peninsula Chicago believes the same. A design installation that stands out for Rojas is when KEHOE DESIGNS was tasked with creating an outdoor skating rink on the roof of The Peninsula during the holiday season. “It was so exciting. I felt like I was part of the internal Peninsula team”, recalls Rojas. “We brainstormed on-site as we contemplated how we might activate the rooftop.”
In the end, groves of holiday trees dotted the perimeter of the outdoor footprint. Lush, seasonal greenery was studded with ornaments and faux floras such as amaryllis and poinsettia. Oversized pinecones treated with glitter and snow added to the whimsical setting. Gorgeously-wrapped gifts, finished with hand-fashioned bows, were clustered about. And gobo’s provided the dynamic effect of snowflakes dancing around on the walls lining the skating rink, making for one magical experience. Featuring The Peninsula, check out, CHRISTMAS IN CHICAGO: KEHOE DESIGNS HOLIDAY MAGIC.
Chinese New Year, In Full Bloom
One of Rojas’s favorite holidays at The Peninsula is Chinese New Year. The first time she produced the annual installation, Rojas visited Chinatown to experience how to properly celebrate and visually understand this festive celebration. There she saw storefronts and restaurants decorated with Chinese lanterns, decorative fans, paper umbrellas, and cherry blossoms. Inspired by her cultural excursion — Rojas began designing a lush composition for the festive occasion in shades of red, coral, and hot pink.
For the main lobby of the hotel, she built a 10’ tall tree using branches of plum blossoms. She then incorporated Chinese lanterns, and a flurry of traditional, red envelopes used to gift money as a symbol for good fortune in the new year. Other areas of the hotel were decorated as well with real boxwood, branches of faux orange blossoms, and accents of bamboo that had been hand-painted gold. It all proved to be an impressive backdrop for the performance of the iconic, Lion dancers that performs annually at the property.
Client “WOW” Moment
2018 was the “WOW” moment. In 2016 the five-star Peninsula Chicago underwent a massive renovation, but in 2018 it was the celebration of the grand reopening of the luxury hotel property, and at that time introducing the new rooftop hot spot, Z Bar. The party debuted a shift of the interior color palette from warm colors to cool. New décor mixed metallic colors with grey and incorporated natural elements such as marble and slate. The client wanted to connect with guests staying at the iconic property via all touchpoints. Including florals. Rojas rose to the occasion with a final installation that was anchored by a table laden with a collection of oversized metal vases which spewed out onto the surrounding floor.
Shades of fuchsia, purple and lavender were chosen to compliment the colors of the new interior. And a variety of orchids, Dutch Tulips, Phalaenopsis, and Hydrangea were used to bring the color palette to life. The end result was striking and on point. In turn, the client was simply delighted. And while Rojas and the team were on-site servicing the living arrangement, they would see guests lining up to take selfies near the creative installation. Many of the guests were curious about the composition and expressed how beautiful the installation was. In the end, the floral design had become quite the topic of conversation for anyone passing through the hotel’s lobby.
Inspiration Leads to Exploration
An exciting offshoot of KEHOE DESIGNS’s long-standing relationship with The Peninsula Chicago is the “Florist for a Day” classes offered by the hotel. Here, guests of The Peninsula can participate in “bespoke programmes” taught by the very creatives who produce the gorgeous floral installations on-premise. Participants in the class are first given a tour of KEHOE DESIGNS to inspire creativity. Then, hands-on instruction is provided in the curation of actual floral arrangements that would be featured as part of the weekly installation at the hotel. Class attendees are then invited to view their artistry being showcased on the award-winning property the following week. Making for a full-circle, fully-immersive experience.
Congratulations to The Peninsula Chicago on 20 years of excellence, and here’s to enjoying 20 more years of creative partnership!
Whether designing a bride’s personalized bouquet, an intimate dinner party, a custom design for interiors/installations, or a large-scale benefit our purpose is the same — to inspire and elevate meaningful celebrations for our clients.
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