9 Design Lessons from Panama City's American Trade Hotel
Step inside the American Trade Hotel!
Tucked in Panama City's historic Casco Viejo district, the American Trade Hotel gets top marks for its design, the result of a collaboration between Atelier Ace (the creative force behind the Ace Hotels), Panama City-based Conservatorio (a real estate developer committed to the preservation of Casco Viejo), and L.A.-based Commune Design. Here, we're highlighting the ten design lessons you'll want to bring home from this overwhelmingly Instagram-able hotel, plus the products you'll need to pull it off!
Pictured here, the killer interior courtyard, complete with graphic tile, stylish umbrellas, and benches outfitted in chic white-and-black cabana stripes and red-hot upholstery.
Calling in the Top Brass is a smart move.
There are myriad reasons to love this little entry in the lobby: the dramatic lacquered black trim, the door’s geometric cut-outs, and the slab of polished marble that turns the doormat concept on its head. But check out the brass accents: The sconce-pendant hybrids and the traditional footed door pulls deliver a just-right dose of retro glamour.
Patterned tiles deliver style in spades.
When it comes to giving floors personality and character, more is more. Pretty patterned tiles blanket the floors throughout the hotel, ranging in style from artful and Moroccan to graphic and modern. In the lobby, scrolled, rattan-backed rockers highlight the curves of the quatrefoil shapes on the tiles underfoot, while a colorful star side table plays up the tile pattern’s Moroccan influences. The tiles’ saturated, ocean-happy hues hold their own against the light that floods the space for a floor that’s got major staying power, in style and substance.
Classic, meet contemporary.
Wake up dark woods and traditional shapes by pairing them with sleek forms in zippy hues. Just outside the hotel dining room, six modern, X-base chairs in a splashy aqua loosen up a rich wooden trestle table and a pair of studded leather end chairs, making the polished pieces feel a little more playful and inviting.
Mixing materials + textures = design gold.
Using a mix of textures, materials, and patterns is what makes a space sing. In the hotel dining room, curved wooden table bases are topped with tinny metal, and mod wooden chairs are treated to supple leather seats and straw-wrapped backs for a collected, curated look that’s devastatingly hip and assuredly homey. The banquette keeps it fresh, too, pairing pretty tropical print cushions with a velvety neutral cushion.
Use 3-dimensional art to awaken white walls.
In the dining room, a trio of one-of-a-kind cotton weavings by Mexico-raised, L.A.-based artist Tanya Aguiñiga next-levels the wall space above the banquette. The woven art brings depth and dimension to the wall without overwhelming the room with more pattern or color, plus they reinforce the rhythm of the three banquette cushions hanging below. The organic cotton is a nice complement to the room’s more buttoned-up elements, too, like the high-shine black trim on the walls that flank the dining nook.
High-impact hues make architectural elements shine.
A brilliant blue-green wakes up the built-in and bar of the hotel’s Café Unido, transforming the quick-stop coffee-and-pastry spot into an unexpected jewel. And bonus points for the paint’s glossy finish, which reflects the light that floods the narrow space. The other “wow” factor at play here? Texture on texture. The whitewashed wooden ceiling and the cane paneling on the built-in warm up the glossy bar and floor tiles.
Tropical prints go with everything.
And you can use them anywhere. This dynamite throwback pattern works well in the courtyard-side library because it appears on a tailored, rolled-arm sofa that feels right at home with the room’s more traditional elements, like the woven oriental rug and the handsome brass lights. A bamboo floor lamp teases out just a hint of the tropical print’s breezier side, while sturdy wooden pieces, like the straight-lined coffee table, keep the print anchored to the library’s old-school vibes.
A good night’s sleep calls for simplicity.
While the hotel’s common areas pull out all the pattern-happy stops, the guest rooms play it cool with crisp white bedding, ivory curtains, and creamy shiplap. Warm wood floors and paneled wainscot, plus moody blue throw pillows, invite a serenity that lulls you to sleep as gently as a straight-off-the-ocean breeze. Glossy black trim and a mod metal sconce in a sharp leafy green add a handsome, industrial punch.
You can never have too much greenery.
Don’t underestimate the transformative powers of well-placed greenery. Case in point: Large split-leaf philodendrons and a “gallery wall” of small ferns, all potted in warm white vessels, turn the concrete walls and steps outside the hotel’s jazz club, Danilo’s, into a greenhouse oasis that feels lush and warm. Can’t have a wall of ferns in your own home? Fiddle leaf fig trees work similar wonders for rooms that need a tropical pick-me-up.
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This handmade beauty adds texture to a wall in one fell swoop. It's constructed from cotton rope on a wooden dowel and is the ultimate bohemian wall art.
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Woven fibers from the leaves of rush-like plant combine with pieces of abaca for this unique look. The white and black subtle stripes up the cool factor.
Lay It Down
A ceramic tile made to look like cement, this fun find is the most impactful way to add color, pattern, and personality into a space. Whether it's a courtyard, kitchen, or bathroom, these tiles bring the wow-factor when they are underfoot.
With a top made from charcoal gray lavastone and a base from engineered wood, this table is nothing short of good-looking.
Shine a Light
Hang two or three of these metal and glass beauties over a dining table or kitchen island for a glamorous look.
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Fiddle leaf fig plants are notoriously easy to take care of, and they lend a tropical feel to any room.
Classic hex tile in a soft white is always a timeless choice for a beach house bathroom or kitchen.
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This groovy chromed steel chair is painted white for an even cooler aesthetic.
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Antique brass and salt-blasted glass combine for an elegant sconce perfect for a covered patio.
In the Shade
We love a classic patio umbrella, and a modern shade of gray ups the cool factor of its design.
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More tile, please! An eye-catching pattern is kept subtle when done in black, gray, and white.
Brass hardware in a streamlined style gives doors a modern look!
Shade of Blue
Midnight indigo is a color we're always crushing on, and it's no different with this sweet lumbar pillow. Up the ante in a bedroom with this gracing the bed.
Take a Seat
Talk about a style statement--this stunning settee in palm leaf fabric is fulfilling all of our tropical seating dreams.
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This deep teal hue in large doses is a statement-maker. Use it in a high gloss finish for an extra pop.
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Two's a party, three's a crowd, and we're happy about it--this porcelain and leather trio is the cutest way around to bring a plant (or three) into a space.
This happy chair is crafted from resin, making it acceptable for indoor or outdoor use, and the adorable shade of aqua is an instant mood-lifter.
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This leafy green fabric would look sweet on a banquette in a dining area or breakfast nook.
An elegant rocker is a smart addition to a porch or sunroom. This cane back and seat woven from rattan are married nicely to a wooden frame finished in black.
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A bamboo floor lamp is a stylish way to shed some light, and we're particularly fond of this base's sweet shape.
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Crushed limestone gives these planters a unique look, and we're partial to grouping the varying heights together for a more layered look.
An industrial wall sconce is a nice alternative to the typical bedroom sconce, and this shade of army green is a great contrast to dreamy whites of bedding.
Constructed from reclaimed wood, this sturdy dining table seats a group comfortably, just in time for your next dinner party.
This handmade vase in soothing shades of blue and aqua is the ideal beachy vessel for holding your next arrangement.