Long before downtown Nashville was filled with the twang of honky-tonks and the tunes of singer-songwriters, printing presses provided the soundtrack to the neighborhood. Shops like Hatch Show Print – still a local staple – opened in the 1890s to ink everything from newspapers to vaudeville posters.
Soon after, speakeasies cemented the district’s rowdy reputation, with patrons brown-bagging their own liquor to Printer’s Alley’s “mixing bars,” giving birth to a BYOB movement that continued after Prohibition’s repeal.
Printing meets Prohibition at Hotel Indigo Nashville Downtown, which brings the area’s past lives to the forefront of its design with a modern spin from Atlanta-based firm ai3. Lissa Pierce, interior designer and regional manager of property improvements for Hotel Indigo, has the lowdown on details to check out inside the hotel:
The front desk is a nod to letterpress printing.
“The overall design nods to Printer’s Alley and the process of letterpress printing. The beams above the registration desk and the bar are metallic and relate back to the rollers of the printing press. The registration desk pods mimic the style of the printers’ tables.”
White oak panels recall speakeasy design.
“The rift-cut white oak paneling throughout the lobby and restaurant is a nod back to the finish and styling of speakeasies. Ai3 went with a more modern take and a lighter finish to update and modernize the look.”
Nailhead furniture was selected to remind you of a bank.
“Lobby chairs and other furnishing styles give a glimpse into the building’s past as a bank. Even the nailhead details nod back to chairs that would have been in bankers’ offices and the lobby.”
The bar’s décor relates to the area’s BYOB past.
“The decoupage bottles that surround the back bar relate back to the brown-bagging that was done in the Prohibition era. The hotel now gets musicians who play here to sign the bottles; this ties back to when patrons would have to sign the brown bags before placing their liquor in the hidden lockers of speakeasies.”