The St. Jane Hotel, formerly the Hard Rock Hotel, recently installed an art deco-inspired illustration spanning nearly 25 feet across the Carbon & Carbide building’s front facade. The artist collaboration marks the first of renovated hotel which plans to open in June.
A Chicago-based illustrator, Morgan Ramberg, created the bold-patterned art which incorporates elements from the 1929 landmark building at 230 N Michigan Avenue. The design will be used on key cards and giveaways, but the large installation won’t be permanently displayed on the exterior.
Ramberg’s illustrations draw from Scandinavian art and are usually packed with color, so the project for St. Jane was a new experiment.
Big illustration I did for @stjanehotel now on view in windows of the super beautiful Carbide and Carbon building in Chicago. This has been my #1 favorite building in the city since I can remember, so basically a dream project. Big Thanks to art direction from @phenomenon. Check it out if you're downtown! #aparium #stjanehotel #phenomenon #illustration #carbideandcarbonbuilding #chicago #patterndesign
“Creating the illustration was an intense process. The biggest challenge was striking the right balance between formal and playful. Mixing the bold deco patterns with the grayscale tones accomplished some of that, as well as adding in distinctive characters that referenced St. Jane and Chicago,” Ramberg wrote in an email.
“So for this illustration, I relied a lot on my experience as a pattern maker, using shape and geometry to create interest,” she added.
A lot of the inspiration for the piece came from the building itself—the entryway, elevators and exterior all had great patterns, she said. Throughout the space, styles range from simple to ornate which provided Ramberg with a lot of ideas. She worked on translating those physical elements into a work of art that expressed the new spirit of the hotel.
The hotel is named after Jane Addams, a Chicago activist and one of the founders of Hull House which opened in 1889. She was famous for developing innovative social, educational and artistic programs. You can find Addams in the illustration holding a young girl near the lower middle of the piece.
“I love how fluid the final effect is, and how it encourages the viewer to keep scanning, or to look more closely,” she said.
In the illustration, you might spot the chef or a pair of baguettes—those elements tie back into the restaurant at St. Jane which will serve French cuisine.
- Historic Carbide & Carbon Building repositioning as St. Jane Hotel [Curbed Chicago]