Design pro Ellen Bruss and her team deliver comfort and culture with Denver’s new Hotel Born
By Monica Parpal Stockbridge
When Ellen Bruss and her husband, Mark Falcone, set out to design the Hotel Born, they weren’t lacking in qualification. After all, Bruss has been the name behind the brand development firm Ellen Bruss Designs for nearly 30 years, working for corporate identities creating brand collateral, websites and environmental graphics for local legends like Hammond’s Candies and Marczyk Fine Foods. Falcone owns Continuum Partners, a development firm which was the master developer for the Union Station Redevelopment.
But a hotel? This was their first.
“Born was a personal passion project that combined my three greatest interests,” Bruss says. “Branding, interiors and art.”
Opened in August 2017, Hotel Born (which honors Bruss’ mother’s maiden name) is a welcoming urban- and alpine-inspired refuge in the heart of the city. It lends a look and feel both deluxe and leisurely; affluent and at-home. They hired architect and design firm Semple Brown to design the hotel and its adjacent restaurants, Tavernetta and Citizen Rail.
“Everything is custom,” says Bruss, who with Semple Brown oversaw every fabric, carpet and furniture item.
Indeed, Hotel Born was conceived with European sophistication in mind, but planted firmly in Colorado’s capital city. Just off the lobby is a cozy den with tufted furniture, herringbone wood floors and handwoven rugs beneath a windowpane fireplace. Plenty of reading material in the form of vintage magazines — cut and hardcover-bound, still bearing the book binder’s handwritten notes within — offer page-turning peeks into Bruss’ style inspiration.
In the 160 guest rooms (and 40 suites), contemporary plaid carpet, board-formed concrete walls, floor-to-ceiling windows and knotty pine canopies create a pleasant symbiosis of city and mountain motifs. Snug linens and barn doors lend a cabin-like feel, while miniature graffiti artworks tucked behind the closet coat hangers offer urban Easter eggs for the observant occupant.
An art collector herself and longtime boardmember and donor to the neighboring Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Bruss championed the inclusion of local art — along with MCA Director Adam Lerner, who acted as the hotel’s curator. More than 700 original and limited-edition works produced by 32 local artists (the likes of Ian Fisher and Mark Sink) are permanently located throughout the lobby, hallways, rooms and suites for an elevated and original guest experience. Lerner conceived the idea to affix shelves of small works throughout the corridors, which further enhances the home-like feel. What’s more, all guests’ hotel keys grant free MCA admission for continued artistic discovery outside the hotel’s walls.
After more than three years in the making, Hotel Born is Denver’s latest masterpiece, offering guests both culture and comfort in the Union Station neighborhood.