As guests approach the new Hotel Zena in Washington DC, they are met by seven-story tall female warriors on the building’s exterior. Sixty original works of art celebrate female empowerment and gender equality in a collection curated to inspire and ignite conversation. “A light just went off inside of me,” says Andrea Dawson Sheehan, Owner and Art Director of Dawson Design Associates, the firm responsible for the hotel’s interior architecture and design. “I think it’s time we do more than just a pretty face of a hotel…People are really hungry to be treated with content that is challenging, that is authentic, that is memorable. Hotel Zena is a celebration of women, an appreciation of the struggle that has been enduring forever in our history, from every culture, from every part of the world. We felt we could provide an environment to get people talking,” Dawson explains.
The message is artfully woven throughout every aspect of the hotel’s design from the Greek goddess images in guestrooms to the “Wall of Honor” featuring 221 sketches of feminist heroes and iconoclasts spanning 2,000+ years. The hotel lobby is host to a stunning portrait gallery honoring 11 women who’ve fought for gender equality including a wall-sized image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – made entirely of 20,000 painted tampons. A 20′ long curved wall in the restaurant adorned with 12,000 protest buttons commemorates the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. A dramatic hanging installation of painted folding chairs honors Representative Shirley Chisholm’s advice as the first Black woman elected to Congress, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
As a woman-owned procurement firm, Bray Whaler could not be more pleased to have been involved in the project from its inception. “It is an honor to work for a client who allows a brilliant designer to realize her vision in a way that is not only topical and provocative, but inspiring and beautiful, “says Elisa Whaler, President & CEO. Ronnie Bray, EVP & Principal in charge of the project for Bray Whaler adds, “This is a perfect example of design as a meaningful point of difference. It takes vision, courage and a significant investment to carry this off. We could not be more pleased for Dawson Design Associates, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust and Viceroy Hotels & Resorts. They have raised the bar in a socially relevant way. Bravissimo!