L’Observatoire International together with Bedrock developers, Gachot Studios and Kraemer Design Group embarked on a colossal urban revitalization project in downtown Detroit to create the Shinola Hotel. The sprawling 5 building complex was reimagined and transformed into an 8 floor, 130-room hotel with 16,000 square feet of food & beverage with retail space, reconstituting the historic district of Merchant Row as a gathering place for commerce and recreation.

L’Observatoire International responded with a lighting design that accentuates the historic essence of the site while unifying the five intersecting bodies of the property. The result was a curated and bespoke environment that speaks to the culture of the Shinola brand.

At night, the hotel entrance is defined by an opalescent light box giving a sense of depth and place while soft gradients of light wash across the main terracotta façade, revealing the nuances of each historic layer of the hotel. The original 1920’s Singer and T.B. Rayle & Co. buildings connect with an annex via a sky bridge and pedestrian alleyway where lighting emphasizes transitional spaces, creating a play between the domestic and industrial.

The interior lighting design, done in collaboration with Gachot Studios, was key in defining the Shinola character and its place in Detroit. Custom and deco-inspired fixtures with grand architectural coves reveal the heritage of the space while the handmade imbue a local character and evolution into the contemporary. Passageways punctuated with copper wall sconces cast light down mirrored feature walls while accent downlights and diffused ceiling lights alternate at entryways, conveying a sense of movement and dynamism. Integrated and soft low-level lighting create a sense of intimacy where varied light levels impart a layer of complexity, creating a collage of unique environments inside the hotel.

Throughout public spaces, custom wall sconces emphasize scale where low-level steplights and decorative fixtures establish areas for connection and points of intrigue.

At the beer hall, an intimate atmosphere is created by a grid of low tailored industrial pendants and are complimented by glowing custom sconces. The mood deepens at the restaurant and evening bar where warm diffused lights with integrated fixtures at mirrored panels create the illusion of greater depth. Inside private dining areas a constellation of lights layered with an adjustable pulley system of pendants provide a customizable setting further personalizing the guest experience. 

L’Observatoire International implemented a lighting design for the Shinola Hotel that bridged old and new, creating a space synonymous with the brand and enlivening the historic character of downtown Detroit.  This network of spaces creates a dynamic atmosphere that encourages cross-pollination between local communities and travelers alike, transforming the industrial into the novel marking a new step for the Shinola brand.

Interior Designer

Gachot Studios



Date Completed



Project Leader

Natalia Priwin


Billy WongCarrie Chang

Bipin Rao

Christopher Marta

Joy Younan

Photo Credit

Shinola Detroit

Nicole Franzen