The American Trade Hotel is located in the 340-year-old Casco Viejo district in Panama City and is the result of a collaboration between design superstars – the hip LA design firm Commune, the architect Hildegard Vasquez von Hache Uve (Panama’s leading historical restoration company) and the Ace hotel group. The name of the hotel is a nod to its origins as the national headquarters for various American and foreign companies when it was built in 1917. When the group found the room, it was basically an envelope filled with crouching gang members.
Since opening in 2013, it has become one of the most sought-after places to stay in Central America. The redesigned room combined the original five-story stucco building with two neighboring houses. In the face, the entire project was a combination of different styles, time periods and cultures. This eclectic mix results in a feeling of effortless luxury. The modern Bertoia side chairs from the middle of the century by Knoll are located in the lobby bar and courtyard, leather furniture by designer Jamey Garza in the central courtyard and weaving mills by LA designer Tanya Aguiniga in the hotel’s own restaurant. Even the floorboards have a story – they were handcrafted from sunken logs recovered from the Panama Canal.
However, you don’t necessarily need a trip to Panama to bring tropical luxuries into your life. Read on for tips from our designers on how to bring a little South American luxury into your home.
American Trade Hotel reception area
Roman Alonso of the commune said the inspiration for the hotel’s lobby was “a bit of New Orleans meets old Havana in a 1930s noir movie frequented by international reporters and correspondents”. The lighting comes from Atelier de Troupe.
American Trade Hotel seating area
The leather seats, tile floors, and jute carpets give the American Trade Hotel an airy tropical elegance that makes you feel like you’ve stepped on the set of a Humphrey Bogart movie. Much of the hotel furniture is made from reclaimed hardwood and designed by Commune in collaboration with local craftsmen in Nicaragua.
Floor details – Moroccan floor tiles
You can mimic the look of the tile floor throughout the American Trade Hotel without the hefty renovation costs by looking for a rug that mimics the pattern of a tile floor like this Plum & Bow rug.
Bring in nature
The abundance of indoor plants and trees makes the American Trade Hotel feel like in a tropical paradise. You can create that South American vibe in the home by mimicking the look with indoor trees in white planters.
Hospitality dining design
The tables and chairs in the hotel restaurant were designed by Commune and then handcrafted in Nicaragua. The weavings come from Tanya Aguiniga and the wall lights from Remains. The architect Hildegard Vasquez from Have Uve designed the tiles throughout the hotel.
Wall texture – fringed wall hanging
Textile weaving is an updated version of the 70s design trend and is a popular way to add a little texture to a room. One of our most popular textile designers is artist Justine Ashbee from Native Line. Justine lives between Seattle, Washington, and the UK, where she combines geometric shapes with shimmering metal threads to create her woven artwork.
Textile Accents – Palm Leaf Throw Pillow
Most of the furniture in the American Trade Hotel is pretty quiet – leather, jute, brown, and black. For a little more tropical flair, the Commune team brought tropical print fabrics with them. You can do the same at home with this jungle leaf pillow hand-printed in Australia.
Uterine chair made of leather
Much of the leather furniture in the hotel was designed by Garza Marfa, a man and woman design duo in Marfa, Texas. This round chair is made of saddle leather. The base can be powder coated in a variety of colors.
Luxury hotel room design
Community designers took inspiration from the building’s colonial roots. The design decisions in the American Trade Hotel underline the building’s origins as a center of culture and trade.
Minimalist wall lamp
Many hotels use wall lights to save valuable space on the bedside table. The American Trade Hotel uses wall lights with a particularly long range like this Workstead wall light above tables. It’s a great way to provide ceiling lighting even if you don’t have a ceiling mount.