Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014 | 10:30 p.m.
Robin Leach has finished his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, and many of our Strip personalities again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin enjoys the final birthday week of his working vacation with his family, we continue today with our popular guest columns. Here is Vincent Celano, designer of several Las Vegas restaurants including Buddy V’s Ristorante, Carlo’s Bakery and Mercadito at Red Rock Resort.
When I was young, I was always enthralled by the architecture around me — the neighborhoods, the culture and the people. I decided to pursue my passion for design at New York’s Pratt Institute and then gained experience at firms at which I was impressed with their work. After learning from the best, it just seemed like the natural next step to launch my own design studio and have a solid team working with me to work with all of the clients.
I’m extremely proud of the work we have done and the team I am fortunate to work with at Celano Design Studio. I have designed for internationally acclaimed hotels, nightclubs and restaurants and have worked with brands like Mercadito Hospitality, Buddy V’s Ristorante and Carlo’s Bakery.
My relationship with Las Vegas started about 10 years ago when the city was rapidly evolving; there were new expansions and projects popping up everywhere. The timing happened to coincide while I was working with high-profile design firms specializing in nightlife and hospitality, and I was able to get involved at a really opportune time.
We’re now seeing the same trend again with Las Vegas reinventing itself, and my firm has taken on projects in collaboration with local architects like building new attractions at The Linq Promenade and renovating Station Casino properties such as Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch.
Designing in Las Vegas is unique in that we must constantly adjust to the design budgets in the market and overall economy, yet still maintain the creativity and wow factor that Las Vegas requires. The demographics of the city are so multifaceted, and we have to be mindful in terms of catering to everybody based on location, concept and price point.
At that same token, our team has a lot of fun designing in Las Vegas. The city has such personality, and we’re able to play off that theme and really get creative with spaces. My good friend Buddy Valastro asked me to work with local architect of record Troy Moser and design his restaurant and new bakery in the Venetian-Palazzo, Buddy V’s Ristorante and Carlo’s Bakery. We were able to work within a Las Vegas-size budget and create an authentic experience giving it a streetscape feel with restaurant and bakery combined as part of the design direction.
We designed the restaurant around Buddy’s deep connection to his family and Italian roots and made it feel like you were enjoying Sunday dinner at Buddy’s grandmother’s house. We used rustic wood flooring, whisks for the lights, rolling pins and bundt cakes for decor and family-style tables to achieve the lively yet comfortable vibe of a family gathering in the Valastro home.
Across the hall, we designed his bakery, Carlo’s Bakery, which we took inspiration from Buddy and Hoboken, N.J., and animated it for Las Vegas to respond to how Middle America sees Hoboken — a little more theatrical and hip.
Celano Design Studio also recently working with local architect Klai Juba Wald designed the newly opened Mercadito Red Rock Resort, which we have a long-standing relationship with Alfredo Sandoval and his brothers Felipe and Patricio, who all grew up in Mexico.
We used ropes to partition the booths because it’s an ingredient reminiscent of his country that speaks to the modern interpretation of traditional Mexican art, abstract but not intimidating and shows craft and warmth. We used graffiti art from Ernie Valez, who I went to high school with back east. (We also are currently creating a Mercadito at Green Valley Ranch and in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.)
As a society, we’ve lost a little bit of craft. True craftsmen do not claim to be artists; they just happen to be the very best at their jobs. We seek those people out who have a niche skill with which we can collaborate. My approach to design is not fluffy; I’m an architect and designer, not a decorator.
I’m always back and forth to Las Vegas; we’re working on Green Valley Ranch and Red Rock Resort in conjunction with KGA for Mercadito Hospitality Group, a high-profile local residential project with Marc Lemoine Architects and Pearl’s Porch at The Linq Promenade with KJWA for The Lore Group out of L.A., who we also are working on a New Rock and Reilly’s at the new Renaissance Hotel in NYC.
I always enjoy working in Las Vegas, and I’m proud to call this amazing city my second home.
Be sure to check out our other guest columnists today, Crystals chief Farid Matraki and First Friday’s Charles Ressler. On Monday, we’ll meet up with Cosmopolitan Entertainment Director Fedor Banuchi and Eric Brashear of Shoot.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.
With top accommodations, first-rate entertainment, high-end shopping and a slew of acclaimed chefs, the Palazzo has positioned itself as one of the most luxurious resorts on the Strip.
More than 3,000 all-suite rooms start at 740 square feet and are decorated in a modern, yet classic, Italian style. Each room features a sleeping area, with a king or two queens, and a sunken living room area with floor to ceiling windows.
A cathedral ceiling tops the Palazzo casino, while a second 80-foot dome brings natural light to the property's lobby. The 105,000 square foot casino features more than 2,000 slots and 80 table games but lacks the stale smell of cigarettes, as the property is LEED certified with smoking off limits in most of the Palazzo — including 50 percent of the casino floor.
Dining at the Palazzo is among the best of the Strip, starting with Wolfgang Puck's CUT. Chef Simon To serves up authentic Chinese cuisine at Zine, while Sushisamba combines Brazilian and Peruvian flavors with Japanese techniques. At LAVO, club-goers can dine on Mediterranean dishes before heading upstairs to the bath house-inspired nightclub.