Monarck   |  Duvet



Monarck, Denver
A “steakhouse without the food.”

Royal tones and tufted leather make Monarck fit for Denver's princes.

By Daphne Carr

What’s the deal with Denver? In the past decade, clubbing in the mile-high city has gone from the rarified to the everyday. Dozens of successful nightlife venues from the fancy ultra-lounge to the big bangin’ party have drawn a steady stream of DJs, promoters and dance music aficionados to think maybe there is intelligent nightlife between the two coasts.
Impresario Francois Safieddine and his Lotus Entertainment Group are in no small way responsible for this shift. Since 1994, Safieddine – whose careful attention to detail has gotten him “banned from the drafting table,” according to his interior designer – masterminded six independent nightclubs in Denver. It was a good time to start an empire. “In the early ‘90s, the city was giving tax credits to businesses to develop downtown. Now we have three major sports fields, an endless number of luxury lofts going up and tons of restaurants and bars,” said Safieddine. “Our current mayor [John Hickenlooper] used to own a few restaurants downtown, so he knows what we need to keep the balance of entertainment, residential and business. It works.”
Safieddine’s first club, now closed, was the Purple Martini. Successful elements of the space – like a custom color palette and long, narrow spaces encouraging natural mingling – exist in many of his successive projects. Lotus/Karma (2005 Club World Award nominee for Best New Club) is the one-two punch of big nightclub, and bottle service lounge nestled snugly within. Blue 67 is a jazzy martini lounge, and Mynt recently underwent a remix to become a mojito bar, the feminine next door neighbor to the Group’s newest: Monarck, another bold step forward in the Lotus Entertainment Group portfolio. It’s a lounge for “everybody else.”

The pink-rock bar top.

Symbolically Solid
Safieddine defines the untapped group that Monarck pursues as “a mature crowd, not traditional clubgoers,” downtown, professional, and dominantly male. And to attract them, he “wanted a mix of the traditional and the high-tech” in his 3,000-square-foot space.
Enter Jeff Elliot, president of Jeffrey P. Elliot Interior Design, who has been designing clubs for Safieddine since graduating from the Interior Design Institute of Denver in 1994. “When we did Lotus, it was high impact, like Vegas, but I added this Asian theme to give it a personality,” he said. “[Monarck] is a different market – it’s like a steakhouse without the food. What attracts those types of people?”
Elliot had never designed for such a demo before, but settled on strong, masculine features in warm, enveloping colors and symbolically solid materials like dark wood, stone and leather. “I was really wracking my brain about it, but then I said, ‘If I think too hard, I will be over-thinking the whole thing,’ which is how we ended up with the Chesterfield sofas and Williamsburg chandeliers.”
“In essence, it’s a little more junky, a little more ‘what people want.’ Like the pink river rock slab bar top. We were walking around looking at things and, well, everybody and his brother is doing onyx. Francois said ‘Look at that weird stuff,’ and we ended up going with it.”
How does a savvy nightclub designer enter the mindset of a young buck only beginning to see beyond plastic beer logos and pool tables as obvious signs of a successful evening out? “That’s a good question,” said Elliot, who says that he gets his own inspiration by devouring design mags. “I have this formula, a simple how-to. The chandeliers might not be my style, but their repeating, and change of scale, definitely is. In doing this, I can deal with elements that aren’t my thing but still feel good about the result.”
One happy accident with the Monarck project was Elliot’s decision to install a library of fake books, bound in papers made to match the interior for the back VIP room. Recessed and framed by brass wall sconces, it’s equal parts austere parlor and haunted house; the perfect nook for beautiful folks to cozy up and chatter about the Brontë sisters. “It’s a huge success, probably for its warmth, its busy quality and because it is unexpected for a club environment,” said Elliot. “I didn’t even plan for it. I just needed something to go in that corner, and I drew the bookshelves into the plans on a whim.”
Safiedenne’s “high-tech” aspect comes in the form of Color Kinetics LED-loaded Plexiglas tables, fabricated by Denver-based A.I.A. Plastics. These work as undulating focal points, while the continuously alternating floor glows purple and blue. Safieddine said that this softness brings in another element, as “girls like color.”

Bit By Bit
No one likes a system too big for its britches, which is why Kostas Kouremenos, entertainment director for Safiedenne’s Lotus Entertainment Group (which manages all four venues), and the man in charge of Monarck’s Speed Of Sound-installed sound rig, characterizes it as, “small, maybe six fills and one cabinet up front, and three subs and six two-ways in the back. All Turbosound.” Lights, installed by REX Lighting? “No moving ones, just the [Color Kinetics] changers.” Two Eiki EIP1 LCD projectors, controlled from the DJ booth by Edirol’s V-4 mixer, toss images onto walls, and eight Sharp Aquos LC-20E1U 20" LCD screens add extra video ambience to the space. For a 3,000-square-footer, that’s still a lot of flash.
“Since I opened my first club, I always bring in advanced products,” said Safieddine. “I mix them with traditional things, things people know. That’s how people in Denver learn to love the new. One thing at
a time.”

2 - Technics SL-1200MK5 turntables
1 - Edirol V-4 video mixer
1 - Pioneer CMX-3000 dual CD player
1 - QSC RMX 850 amplifier
1 - Rane Empath mixer
1 - Turbosound TXD-121 two-way monitor
Amp Rack
2 - Crown Xs900 amplifiers
1 - Crown XLS 202 amplifier
1 - Crown Xs4300 four-channel amplifier
1 - dbx DriveRack 260 digital processor
1 - QSC RMX 2450 amplifier
2 - Turbosound TXD121 two-ways
1 - Turbosound TXD115 subwoofer
4 - Turbosound TXD081 two-ways
4 - Turbosound TXD151 two-ways
2 - Turbosound TXD118 subwoofers
2 - JBL Control 26 ceiling speakers

8 - Sharp Aquos LC-20E1U 20" LCD screens
2 - Eiki EIP1 LCD projectors

Back To Top

Duvet, New York
Beds, yes…but jellyfish, icebergs and one-way glass too.

The new incarnation of this Chelsea space lets elegance reign.

By Chrissi Mark
Photos by Bethany Nauert

Slippers: Not a usual nightlife accessory. But at Duvet, patrons are not only provided with cushy spa shoes for when they’re lounging on 400-thread count sheets stretched over super-sized beds, they’re encouraged to take them home as mementos of their experience. “Someone else might have said no, I’m not going to spend the money on them, which is fine too,” said co-owner Sabina Belkin. “But I just wanted to go a little bit further.”
The newest restaurant/lounge on New York’s busy 21st Street, Duvet is all about going that extra lap, whether it’s opting for super-soft sheets, installing a jellyfish tank to increase the effect of LED lights or improving on former inhabitant Centro-Fly’s leftover sound system. “There’s one way to do it, and there’s another,” says Belkin, who owns Duvet and a series of Brazilian restaurants with her father, Edward. “I could have put in king-sized [instead of custom-sized] beds. I could have put on regular sheets and thrown on any pillows [instead of goose down]. That would have been easy. But I wanted to give my guests and customers all the amenities I possibly could.”
Through Sabina’s touch, the 20,000-square-foot venue is fully stocked with such bits of intrigue: The extensive LED system; the artist-rendered, kiln-cooked glass bar that looks like an iceberg in the middle of the room; the unisex bathroom with the one-way glass stall doors and view of the wine cellar. Duvet is a veritable highlight reel of cool, clubby details. And since dining and dancing in bed are nothing new in clubland, Duvet needed these unique touches to individuate from other horizontal nightspots.

Tables line the wall for those who prefer watching others in bed.

Happy Accidents (And Merry Jellyfish)
Upon entering Duvet, former patrons of Centro-Fly or Trampps (a ‘90s live venue also in the same space) will recognize the low ceilings, but little else. New eyes tend to focus first on that iceberg bar, in the center of the single, open room. Its glass has so much texture that there are “hot spots and dark spots” when it is LED-illuminated, according to lighting designer and installer Dougie Lazer, principal of XS Lighting & Sound.
One of the bar’s expensive glass pieces “became part of the décor by virtue of an accident,” says interior designer Andres Escobar, of Montreal-based Andres Escobar & Associates. When it shattered after being dropped during installation, Edward Belkin suggested mounting it as artwork. A piece of wood was cut to fit the pieces, painted silver, mounted and backlit behind the bar oasis.

Duvet's glowing iceberg bar and floating pod tables entice high end customers.

Adjacent to the bar is a series of “pod” tables designed and fabricated by Escobar, to give people a place to set down their drinks when the bar is teeming. The pieces are sculpted from fused acrylic, and lit from within. “They look beautiful if the place is not full,” he says, “but they’re quite utilitary when people are in there.”
To the left of the pods is the spread of white sheer-draped dining beds that has been generating press and soaking up morphing LED shades since Duvet made its debut in November. “That’s the coolest spot in the whole place,” says Lazer. “It reminds you of when you were little and you built forts.”
On the other side of the ‘berg, peripheral high-backed sofas and an illuminated mural blur with tables and a sushi bar. Straight ahead is the jellyfish tank, lined with black gravel to absorb the Color Kinetics Color Blast light from above. The effect: The jellyfish literally light up, while their environment remains translucent. “The jellyfish are very soothing and soft and gentle, and go with the bed theme,” Sabina says. “People just stand there for hours looking at them”
Down the stairs behind the tank are the high-fashion restroom, and a private lounge with seven secluded areas, also accessible via a Color Blast-ed glass staircase in the main bed-room.
Inspired by police interrogation rooms with one-way glass portrayed in movies, the bathroom’s titillating mirrored stall doors allow you to look out, without being seen yourself. Escobar says they’re voyeuristic, not vulgar, “but the trick is, the light level in the cubical has to be substantially lower than that on the other side,” he says.
Enter lightguy Lazer with the in-stall solution: Color Kinetic MR16 bulbs, “the old ones I always had a problem with because they weren’t bright enough,” he says. He also focused the exterior wash room lights on a color-changing water fountain sculpture, to keep peeping Toms at bay.

In the unisex bathroom, the center fountain can be seen from out-or inside the one-way stall doors at right.

Flown Sound For Fly Lives
Some things you won’t behold at Duvet are speakers, but like a good sound system or a bad child, they are heard but not seen. “Everything is rigged into the ceiling,” says Steve Mendez of New York-based Subsonics. “We flew the subs, everything, because they wanted a clean view on the floor.”
Still, New Yorkers might recognize some of the boxes: They’re straight from Centro-Fly’s old rig. “Centro-Fly was such a great club for such a long time that [the Belkins] wanted to keep its sound system, because it was like an icon,” says Mendez.
So he modified the equipment and the space around it to create a sound system “based on intelligibility, to achieve a very clear sound for the quality customers that they’re working with,” he says. “It was more of an acoustic design, not like the standard contracting that everybody else is doing on clubs in New York; just bring in speakers off the shelves and put them on the wall and bang, you have a loud sound system. Here we went speaker by speaker.”
With acoustical prediction programs, like Sound Technology’s Spectra Lab, plus the requirements of the designers and architects, Mendez decided on speaker placement, and then tuned the whole system with Smaart. And, he says, the lengthy labor of tuning and retuning a room with so many reflective surfaces was well worth it.
“We had a lot of complaints at the soundcheck actually,” Mendez confesses, “but we put it up to code. We designed every single piece and tuned every single buzz depending on where we located the box.” A proprietary suspension system helps avoid resonances in the structure of the building, to quell complaints from Duvet’s neighbors upstairs and next door (a big reason for the closure of Trampps). Mendez also floated the floors, and used BASWAphon technology to acoustically treat the ceilings as well as the walls.
The background system for the beds surrounding the DJ booth, the center-room bar area system, and the VIP system are integrated on an Allen & Heath 4000 32-channel FOH board, something Centro-Fly never had. “We flat-frequency the room, so the system is ready to play back everything from jazz to rock without any problems, and going through the whole range of electronic music like downtempo, techno, progressive and trance. It’s all based on good acoustic response,” says Mendez. “Now they’re fully equipped to host mid-sized bands and do large performances.”
In the main DJ booth, Mendez and his crew modified a Rane mixer, changing the layout of the circuitry board for cleaner sound. They toyed with the Technics turntables as well, with ground-looping and other “tricks” before running everything into the Final Scratch amp, so any DJ can plug in.
Acoustical treatment? Omnipresent LEDs? 30,000 pairs of super-svelte slippers? Duvet may have the beds, but this lounge isn’t taking fierce NYC competition lying down.

10 - Subsonics custom boxes 
6 - BSS FCS-960 equalizers
6 - Crest Audio Pro 70001 amplifiers
4 - Crest Audio Pro 80001 amplifiers
4 - Crest Audio Pro 90001 amplifiers
4 - Crest Audio Pro 10001 amplifiers
2 - Pioneer CDJ-1000 MK2 digital turntables
2 - Technics 1210 MK2 turntables (modified)
2 - XTA DP226 speaker management systems
1 - Allen & Heath 4000 32-channel mixer
1 - Rane MP44Z mixer (modified)
1 - XTA CSIDD compressor/limiter

8 - DAS Audio Factor 8 speakers
4 - Subsonics custom subwoofers
2 - Pioneer CDJ-100 CD players
2 - Technics 1200 MK2 turntables (modified)
1 - Pioneer DAM300 mixer

8 - DAS Audio Factor 5 speakers

Back To Top
Copyright 2005 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2005 TESTA Communications