Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Last month, New York City’s Flower District gained a new hotel—the latest location for Martiott’s Moxy Hotels, Moxy NYC Chelsea. The new space immediately gained attention, but soon after, it was The Fleur Room that opened on the 35th floor that no one could keep quiet about. Presented collaboratively by Tao Group and Rockwell Group, the space presents special guests with 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline, a copper-clad bar, floral décor by Putnam & Putnam, a stellar cocktail list (cue an immediate order of Fleur of the Valley), and a massive, can’t-miss disco ball to dance under. In the warmer months, visitors can enjoy the real kicker—the lounge’s glass walls descending for an open-air fête.
To celebrate its opening, Whitewall spoke with its Creative Director, Angelo Bianchi, whose role ranges from overseeing the ambience to executing the event programming, and more.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us a bit about your background leading up to this project? What drove you to be in hospitality and nightlife industry?
ANGELO BIANCHI: I’ve been a New Yorker all my life. I grew up on Staten Island, which isn’t exactly Montmarte or even the East Village. What it lacked in culture, it made up for in the view of the skyline, which served as a beacon of hope and opportunity to me. As soon as I could, at age 17, I moved into the city.
Immediately, I became fascinated with the vitality of New York City’s club and bar scene. I was studying Film at NYU, working on a novel and spending my nights having adventures with heroes and icons. Finally, I was having my own stories, instead of reading about others. Having a day job just wasn’t in the cards for me; I had read One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest one too many times. Fortunately, I was out so often that I was offered a job as a doorman because I knew who everyone was— and to be paid to be shaping the party and having fun seemed too good to be true.
Around this time, I found myself working with Paul Sevigny at Sway, and later I helped him open The Beatrice Inn. The Beatrice was a generation’s Studio 54—the last great club of the underground and avant garde, the perfect blend of all aspects of culture. Anyone who had made it past the door has a story to tell and has probably told it many times. After The Beatrice was closed by an irate West Village community that didn’t want a nightly parade of paparazzi and several hundred very fashionable people staggering around their block, I was able to choose who I could work with as a result of the Beatrice’s success. I was fortunate to work with and for industry innovators that I had always admired and respected, like Sean McPherson, Noah Tepperberg, and most recently for Aby Rosen as a Creative Director of The Blond.
WW: Tell us a bit about the The Fleur Room. What can guests expect?
AB: The Fleur Room is a fantasy experience. The views are unrivaled and truly jaw dropping—a “wow” moment if there ever was one. It’s the perfect place to start or end your night. It opens at dusk and having a cocktail and watching the sun set over all of downtown Manhattan and both rivers is truly spectacular. From the Freedom Tower to both rivers, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, when the sun goes down, the lights of the Manhattan skyline hit The Fleur Room like something out of Blade Runner. The space transforms as the high-rises light up and the music evolves with the mood. It has a little bit for everyone, no matter the mood—an atmospheric happy hour for a comfortable time with friends, a sophisticated late-night hang or the ultimate party spot.
WW: Tell us a bit about your role in its creation and curation.
AB: The space had already been designed by Rockwell Group when I joined the project. I was really enamored by what they created and the full spectacle of the room and the view. I knew my mission was that every aspect of the guest experience had to match the splendor of the view and the beautiful design of the space. Each little detail from the moment you walk in, had to feel special. It’s been delightful to find ways to make this possible. One of the most exciting parts of this process has been the development of the food menu with Chef Jason Hall. Inspired by places like the Ritz in Paris, we sought to create a food program that was elevated, and able to appeal to the most discerning New Yorker. Very proud of the menu and the response it has received. In terms of curation, my personal aesthetics and long history of relationships have found their way into the venue in a variety of ways, like the community of DJs that bring a certain feel to the room, and with my circle of friends that feel comfortable and have been coming to enjoy not only a late night party, but also an early evening drinks and food at sunset.
WW: The design of the space includes floor-to-ceiling glass windows, chandeliers, ornate floral décor, a copper-clad bar, and a disco ball that originally belonged to the ’80s Hollywood club Vertigo. Why were these details important to include?
AB: The Fleur Room is situated atop NYC’s iconic flower district. The historical, one-block wide strip has been the centerpiece of our country’s flower industry for over a century, so it was really important to carry those roots through the space’s design and menu. We embraced floral prints in a playful way and reimagined them as fun moments to balance the austerity of our iconic view. That meant 360-degree floor-to-ceiling windows to flood sunlight into the room, as well as retractable, garage-style windows to turn the space into an open-air veranda when its warm enough. It also extends to our menu, both in its design and its offerings. Signature cocktails include the Fleur of the Valley—made with Grey Goose, prosecco, fresh strawberries and basil—and bites include vegetable crudité and crispy sage leaves with fennel sausage.
WW: Previous projects of yours include The Blond and The Beatrice Inn. Tell us a bit about the type of nightlife experience you aim to create.
AB: All memorable venues having something that feels fresh and new. Part of my excitement with The Fleur Room is how incredibly different it is from both of those places. A venue really becomes part of the iconography of a city when it perfectly fits the needs of a time while being slightly ahead of the curve and different from everything else. In my twenty plus years of going out and trying to experience all aspects of what nightlife has to offer, I have never been in a venue that is as high up and up close to a dreamlike skyline of the city. I want for every person who walks in to maintain their feeling of excitement from seeing the view and space, to then feeling like a great night is about to be had because the music, food, service, hospitality and community of people they are surrounded by are exactly what they have been searching for.
WW: Collaboratively, this project is also operated by the TAO Group. What similarities do you share with the group in executing a plan like this? What kind of vision do you share?
AB: The first place after Beatrice Inn that I was involved in was Avenue, created by Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss, partners of Tao group. We have known each other and worked together on and off for the past decade. Tao Group has brought nightlife to levels it had never been previously. From starting at small clubs in the village to evolving into true a global brand on different continents, there are no more experienced and wise operators. At their core, they deliver incredible guest experiences in their venues—I have sought to do the same thing, yet on a smaller and more intimate scale. This space with its view and size, provided the ultimate opportunity for us to come together and combine our worlds and experience to make a unique and special venue.
WW: We recently interviewed Ian Schrager about his legendary Studio 54, and the creation of boutique hotels. This project draws similar executions. Did anything from the past life of clubs and nightlife establishments inspire you for this project?
AB: On a design level, the disco ball that we have in our space was from a club called Vertigo in Los Angeles that was created by the former Doorman of Studio 54. In a Times article from 1986, a review of the club, fearing a picture of the ball looming above a sea of revelers, refers to the venue as L.A.’s first “New York style club.” The disco ball, which is more like a functional art piece, was meant for a room that had a capacity of well over a thousand people. Having this one of a kind mammoth disco ball, which is infused with the spirit of those great venues in the past, in a such a small and intimate space with the skyline of New York City as the background couldn’t be a more fitting inspiration and design element that we are proud to have in the room.
WW: What’s your favorite thing about the new space?
AB: My favorite thing about the space its versatility and ability to serve many different needs. There are few places that come to mind as being an ideal spot to watch the sunset in an elegant and elevated manner or have drinks with friends after work in a luxurious yet comfortable space. Additionally, it’s an ideal spot to get food with friends that’s on the level of the best restaurants and not as formal and stuffy. It’s a perfect place to bring a date after dinner and then it becomes a wild dance party. It’s an operator’s dream to be able to cater to all of these needs.
WW: What’s your favorite drink on the menu?
AB: I have become a mezcal enthusiast, so the Mariachi Diva is my drink of choice.