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Porcelain Books, Lenticular Art and Coin Sculptures? Toto, We’re Not in a Hotel Lobby Anymore

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  Site Where: 120 E. Delaware Place [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60611
April 12, 2012 at 4:42 PM | by | ()

Ever since the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago rebranded and reopened its lobby and resto space this February, the new restaurant Allium has been getting a lot of buzz. We stopped by to see it out for ourselves and venturing out of the elevator, were stopped by something else: the gorgeous entry that felt every bit a private art collector’s gallery.

Dramatically, big paintings hung across the walls from each other, coin-melded sculptures called from the corners, flower arrangements brightened a table in the center. Had we taken a wrong turn? Where was the front desk? The concierge? Was this even the lobby?

Turns out we were right where we were suppose to be, right in the Four Seasons new hotel lobby, which is suppose to be every bit about art. We spied the registration desk and concierge to the right and more spacious, art-filled rooms flowing beyond it and very much like a museum, only more posh and comfortable.

In all, there are more than 100 pieces or art spread across the entire lobby and restaurant -- sculptures, paintings, objects, photos and replicated works, each inspired in some way by Chicago. There’s the copper wind sculpture by Robert Sanabria called “Viento” (Spanish for “wind”), large sculptures made of welded coins (included a woman’s coin torso made of 2,000 coins in all), large oil paintings sitting under the perfect light, replicated works by Warhol, Matisse, Picasso and Julian Opie (Opie’s interactive, lenticular works – “Jeremy Walking in Coat” and “Sian Walking” -- will walk with you as you pass by).

Our favorite, though, might be the curious and sleek white porcelain books stacked in modern bookcases. Kicking back in the comfy chairs and couches, we loved the look of these deliberately fake books and the way they made us think about this as an artistic experience. Should we feel as though we’re in a library or a gallery? Is it about the things books suggest as décor or the books themselves? Totally rad to have these kinds of deep thoughts in a hotel lobby.

Oh yeah, and there’s Allium, which has been stealing all of the attention since the reopening. Previously, the stuffier Seasons was the only restaurant at the Four Seasons Chicago, but that space has since become a ballroom and Allium has staked its own cozier claim in a space that spills out into the lobby. Honestly, it’s hard to say exactly where the lobby ends and Allium begins as the artful vibe and cushy furnishings extend right into the restaurant and bar.

All of that attention on Allium has been less so for the look and feel, and far more for chef Kevin Hickey’s savory, locally-inspired grub, including his famously delicious, all-house-made hotdogs and pull-apart bacon buns. In addition to American Whiskeys and Chicago-inspired cocktails, the bar also serves only Midwestern brews on tap and by the bottle. Bummer that it costs $7 no matter if you throw back a Sprecher Hefe Weizen or Pabst, but the upside might be in making simple, local choices. You will, after all, be preoccupied and perplexed by those curiously curated safari-like photos right there in the bar.

Allium is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, with a brunch menu offered on Sunday. Room rates at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago are also currently starting at $449 per night.

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