Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

December 27, 2008

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas - The Designers

Posted by Hunter

Thousands of pieces - furniture, hand-woven carpets, wall coverings, chandeliers and everything else that makes up a Las Vegas resort - were all custom-picked and either built or acquired for Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, the latest creation from a team that's been working with Steve Wynn for almost three decades.

Keep reading after the jump for more.

Encore re-unites designer Roger Thomas and architect DeRuyter Butler with outside consultants like Todd-Avery Lenahan and Lifescapes International - the team that created Wynn Las Vegas. Also in the mix is Jerry Beale who will be taking over for Roger Thomas when he leaves Wynn Design and Development mid-2009. Beale came to Wynn D&D earlier this year from Wilson and Associates, the firm notable for such projects as the Mansion at MGM Grand.

Lenahan, who also worked on several parts of Wynn Las Vegas, was responsible for Encore's room design, along with its spa areas. Thomas described him as 'the best designer working in hospitality today' and after sampling his portfolio of worldwide projects, it's easy to see why.

As we toured Encore with chief interior designer Roger Thomas, hours before it's official opening, our group of eight was treated to fascinating anecdotes about many of the little touches - the flourishes that help make a Wynn property what it is. I noted that when Thomas described his role in the process, he referred to himself as an 'author' of the resort's experiences, rather than a designer.

As usual, no expense was spared at Encore - glass is Venetian, marble from Italy and natural light is everywhere. The butterfly motif is a prominent part of the resort's design language - Thomas has loved them since his childhood.

Cenedese Chandeliers

Lenahan's Spa Lobby

Landscape Architecture by Lifescapes

Encore Resort Room by Todd-Avery Lenahan

Some of my favorite touches - both fun and beautiful things I noticed while touring the resort:

• The Wynn Diamond - 231 carets, on display most evenings at Wynn and Company Jewelers inside the Encore Esplanade.
• Botero Steak - The 'floating bar' directly inside the main entrance of the restaurant.
• Tower Suites Porte Cochere - Statue of the 'Four Mermaids'.
• Lobby Bar Sculpture of Daphne - Inspired by mythology, Thomas had this piece custom made for this space.
• Wazuzu Crystal Dragon - With the head itself weighing 800 pounds, this thing is massive and gorgeous.
• High Limit Bar Sitting Area - Nestled between Baccarat and high limit slots, a quiet place to sit and relax while still only steps from the gaming floor.

These are just a few of my favorite bits - with just over 24 hours on the Encore side of the building, I have a lot more soaking up to do, even after the detailed information from our tour.


Read archived comments (33 so far)
December 27, 2008 3:36 PM Posted by Brian Fey

I love the look of Botero, but somehow I must have missed the "floating bar" If you have a picture of it, please post a link.

December 27, 2008 3:38 PM Posted by Hunter

I don't but I will get one in a couple of weeks if I don't see one by then. It's a bar on the ceiling - kinda neat.

December 28, 2008 1:21 AM Posted by Mike E

I could be wrong, but beyond lattice and butterfly motives, I have seen Daphne (or a human figure in the same shape as that statue that appears in the Lobby Bar) on door handles and a few other spots that I can't quite remember.

December 29, 2008 5:52 PM Posted by Tom M.

I had never heard of Erik Wunstell until I did a general search for Encore in google. I clicked on his website and came across an incredible photo essay of Encore. This guy lives in Las Vegas and apparently likes photographing the city. I have heard all the rants and raves about how awesome Encore is but this guys photos really show it. The color really pops. Check it out!! Hunter, have you ever heard of this guy::

December 29, 2008 6:11 PM Posted by Hunter

Actually, yes I have. He was taking photos of Wynn Las Vegas back before it opened as well.

Never met him and haven't seen the site in awhile but I am familiar with his work.

December 29, 2008 8:59 PM Posted by mike_ch

His contrast is really hot. On my CRT screen it looks bizarrely bad. It's one thing to use Photoshop for good, it's another use Photoshop that makes the picture look like a cartoon.

I've never heard of the guy but while his photos of the Strip in the 70s are great to see, his web design almost gives me a headache. That and his "Sexual Vegas" page made me laugh: photos from porn sites (at least he credited them, though) with photos of the Strip and hotel towers placed in-between the smut. Talk about "architecture porn!"

December 30, 2008 1:03 AM Posted by steve_c

No offense, but... yuck! Erik's site just pisses me off. While it is fun to look at all the vintage Vegas photos (most of which I can only assume were lifted from Webshots or Flickr and edited to the extreme in photo shop...) ...the site just gives me a headache! I happened to look on it yesterday (I used to visit once in a while before the redesign earlier this year) and was shocked at how much stuff was just copied and posted from other Vegas sites. Most of the text under various photos is incorrect with whats being shown, while all of the photos are just plain awful (and as mike_ch said "it looks bizarrely bad" - bizarre being the key term....) Sorry for my rant, but it annoys me when people cannot come up with something original and tasteful.... perhaps that's why I've being coming here for about two years now.

Thanks again Hunter and everyone else for making this my most frequented Vegas site.... it is truly unique.

December 30, 2008 1:12 AM Posted by steve_c

oops.... I should have read the rest of Mike's post before I posted my "critique" of that site....

Anyways, did anyone else get the 3 comped nights at Encore for the week leading up to the formal grand-opening? I'll be staying in a "standard" resort room at Encore the 18th-23rd of January for less than $300 (about $140ish for the two nights not comped). We've never stayed at Wynn but are Red Card members, so we were a little shocked to be paying less for a room at ENCORE than we usually pay at TI for the petite suite - guess that is the economy for you.

December 30, 2008 5:17 PM Posted by chuckmonster

That's "over saturation" and I presume it's done to keep content thieves from lifting photos. i prefer equally leveled pix w/o burn in au natural. Easily, the best of the bunch are Mark D's photos (which are posted variously on SkyscraperPage & VTaT.) Mad lens craft.

December 30, 2008 9:30 PM Posted by steve_c

Would have to agree with Chuck... Mark D is a godsend when it comes to Vegas photos.

December 30, 2008 9:35 PM Posted by Hunter

Mark has been kind enough to allow me to publish some of his photos, which are always great.

December 31, 2008 8:53 AM Posted by DON


December 31, 2008 9:34 AM Posted by Hunter

Also, take a look at William Beem's photos, which are for sale:

December 31, 2008 9:43 AM Posted by Tom M.

I thought the Encore photos looked great on my laptop screen. If that is oversaturation, then it looked ok on my screen. He also took some pictures that showed views of the resort that I had not seen in other photos. I agree that his overall web design is a real mess, but there are many good photos, especially of old vegas, in that site.

I am curious if someone can get pictures or video online somewhere of Switch in action or various shots of the different walls etc.

December 31, 2008 9:47 AM Posted by Hunter

I will shoot some in two weeks if they don't show up before then.

December 31, 2008 9:15 PM Posted by Erik

I saw these remarks on Google.

Jeez , you guys! Please quit dogging me with your harsh and cruel criticism. If you hate my stuff so much please don't visit my lame website.

I only have a junky -crummy 2 megapixel camera,
a slow-motion computer from 1993, some piece-of-junk $9.95 image-editing software from 1998 and a $10 a month budget, and have to write Basic HTML cuz I can't afford any page-making software.

Yet, you guys act like I don't belong on the internet...and if it was up to you I truly believe you would vote me right off of it.

You're all giants and I'm a midget. Does that make you feel better? I'm just a hick-clod who ended up stuck in Vegas with nothing better to do than shoot pictures.

You could at least credit my composition, cuz it's better than most. But all you have to say is that my site "pisses you off"?!....or act like I'm some moronic idiot that doesn't know how to create anything "original"?

As for my Sexual Vegas page. I made that in order to get some porn-producers off my back by showing them that I think glamor photos are better than porn. There is no pornography on that spite of the money that could be made doing that.

As for my Old Vegas stuff. I simply like history and like trying to make some sense of it. If you know more about it, please make a website and show it. I'm no expert - nor claim to be one. I just read a lot and listened to over 50,000 taxi-customers tell me what they knew. Errors and all. And I'd never be so rude as to tell anyone they were wrong....even when they'd say the Bellagio cost $10 billion to build... or that Bugsy built Caesars. Why embarrass a guy trying to impress his girlfriend with his knowledge of Vegas?

One thing I know for sure...after 8 years of driving a cab, is that EVERYONE considers himself to be an expert on Vegas.

For every put-down you make, there is a very logical explanation behind why my site is the way it is.

I won't be back here or read any responses or flames. But if even one of you wants me to shut-down my website....just e-mail me a 100 word reason why I should do it.

Thanks for listening...and for maybe reading between the lines. Should poverty keep someone from expressing themselves?

My website is a Local Guide to city services. It shows post office locations and late night food delivery services and all kinds of useful stuff that other (less critical) people appreciate.

Should I shut that down because my website gives YOU "a headache"? Or should I make my website all text and have no one be able to find it on Google?

Or should I just continue to do what I'm doing in spite of your intense hatred of my Mickey-Mouse website.

Go get angry at something else and please quit razzing me. I'm just a dumb-jerk with a camera.

December 31, 2008 9:19 PM Posted by Hunter


I can't speak directly for the folks with the comments but I honestly don't think they meant anything personal, though I can see how it might have seemed that way.

If you want to take some regular, monthly photos for this site, I'll send you a new camera.

Reach me at editor AT ratevegas DOT com and we'll talk about the details.


December 31, 2008 9:39 PM Posted by mike_ch

Erik: I think a site of old Vegas stuff is great to see, actually. I think we all get nostalgic for a place here and there, and there's a lot of stuff I missed that I'd like to see. If you have any photos of old Luxor or Treasure Island in particular, I'd like to see them no matter how they look. Not many pictures of that stuff are available online!

Don't take it too hard, I'm pretty sure nobody here actually thinks of themselves as giants.

December 31, 2008 10:07 PM Posted by John H.

Well, there was one person. But "He Who Stern Not Be Named" hasn't posted in at least a year now.

Speaking of the old Vegas photos, I have to agree with Mike. I have spent quite a bit of time lately roaming the internet for pictures, in particular, of the Mirage circa 1992/3/4. For some reason, I really want to see what it looked like at the, more or less, apex of its theme. I want to see those canopies again. I want to see pictures of Renoir, which I have had a devil of a time trying to find.

In addition to those, I've really wanted to find pictures of the Bellagio of 1998. I would love to see pictures of Sam's, Allegro, and some of the other establishments that have been replaced by examples of "Trendy."

And, honestly, to top it off, I would love to see a picture of the Black Spot Grille and Treasure Island again. I remember eating at that spot once upon a dream, but I can barely even remember what it looks like. In fact, I can't really remember any of the restaurants that have been shuttered for more examples of "Trendy." Actually, I don't think I've ever seen pictures of Madame Changs, the Terrace Cafe, or the original Buffet. God, I would love to see pictures of those gone-but-not-forgotten spots.

December 31, 2008 10:35 PM Posted by Hunter

Actually, I may be able to help with some of those requests.

I think I have photos of Sam's, Allegro, Renoir and maybe the Black Spot Grille. I had dinner at the Black Spot the day after my 21st birthday.

I was just thinking of Madame Chang's the last time I was in town as I was thinking about Isla and what came before it. Trippy. I never ate at Chang's.

The original TI buffet was not very good and was pretty small. Dishes ain't great but it is an improvement.

I will make a point of digging through my older photos that are not online to see what I have.

December 31, 2008 11:20 PM Posted by John H.

Hunter, I was never able to try Chang's either. However, was it you that told me that Chang's was at one time the resort's main registration desk? Or was that Francesco's (or PIZZERIA francesco's, as it is now being referred to)?

December 31, 2008 11:26 PM Posted by Hunter

The original registration is where Francesco's is now, yeah... I can't believe it got downgraded to a pizza joint. That's a crime.

January 1, 2009 7:40 PM Posted by John

I honestly think the walls of the back chamber of Society are the best part of this whole resort.

Yes, that is a moose head.

January 10, 2009 12:54 PM Posted by detroit1051

I've spent some time studying the Wynn Magazine which features Encore. I know nothing about carpet, but the quality of the carpeting in the suites, public areas and casino is evident. Brian, you're an expert on such matters; are all the carpets custom weave jobs specifically for Wynn? How many extra runs are made for future use? I know I heard once that Steve had enough extra made for Picasso at Bellagio to re-do the room five times.
It's clear that there was no strict budget for the wall coverings, carpet and chandeliers. An amazing property.

January 10, 2009 4:48 PM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit: Sent you an email regarding a secret about the Encore casino carpet. It's not quite as one-of-a-kind as you think.

January 10, 2009 7:08 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, thanks. That story made me LOL.

January 10, 2009 8:40 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Mike, Maybe you should copy me on that carpet email, and i'll tell you how much of what you sent his is fact vs fiction IMO. I don't know much about anything, but I do know carpet, inside, and out, and upside down. I'm a 2nd generation carpet man. I've spent the last 19 years of my life doing it for a full time career, and before that, I grew up and was around it, all of my life, so I've been involved in carpet my entire 36 year life. I'm curious to see this email, and what you know about the carpet there.

January 10, 2009 9:52 PM Posted by detroit1051

Brits are always fascinated with Las Vegas. The UK's Sunday Times has a lengthy story on Steve Wynn and Encore. The writer is rather flamboyant in his descriptions. It's a very interesting read. Note Steve's comment about Elad's Plaza property across the street.

January 11, 2009 8:00 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Pretty much all the carpets in Encore are custom. Now some are more custom than others. For example, the room carpet in the main Resort Rooms, is more than likely a standard carpet, but I'm sure the color was custom dyed just for their use. Moving on to the corridors and main public areas. These carpets are custom as well. In some cases the patterns could have been picked from a collection owned by the manufacture, but each color can be chosen by the customer. Carpet not unlike, other industries has come to the computer age. So many of these patterns can be re-scaled to adjust the size of the pattern up and down. Now you can design a pattern completely from scratch, but the cost will rise, and the time to take it will increase. Now in the case of Encore, I can assure you the patterns in the casino, and guest room corridors are 100% custom in both pattern and color. I'd say the carpet in Sinatra's is 100% custom as well. Lastly, moving on to how much extra is ordered. In the case of the guest rooms, I'm sure they order several extra rolls, to replace rooms as needed if case of major damage, or stains that can't be cleaned. The same holds true for the main casino and corridors, they will order several extra rolls to patch and replace and repair areas as needed. But they don't order enough to replace the entire project by any means, they would just order a few extra rolls. And in closing, there are minimum requirements on custom orders. These pertain not only to the entire order, but to each individual carpet with-in the order itself. For example, a mill won't make a custom carpet and pattern if you need 50 yards. The cost and time to design, color, and set up the machine is only possible for large quantities. But as we all know, for Wynn money is no object, so to speak. As a rule a hotel would not order enough carpet to replace a place like Picasso's even once. However in the case of Wynn, I would guess it happened like this... Wynn wanted a 100% custom pattern and color selection for Picasso's, but the place only takes 50 yards, but the mill requires a run of 250 yards for custom runs. So Wynn orders the 250 yards to get what he wants, lays 50 yards, and has enough left in storage to replace the place 4 more times. Like I say, this is not the norm, but Wynn gets what Wynn wants, and though it comes at a price, I'm sure this is exactly what he did. Places like Wynn Resorts and the like, buy so much carpet, they buy direct from any mill they want. We own a wholesale carpet company that sells carpet in all 50 states, we sell millions of dollars of carpeting each year, but I can almost guarantee you, that Wynn Resorts buys more carpet each year, for all of their properties than I even sell. That's kind of sad, when I really think about it, but that's life. :)

In closing, since we don't talk carpet this much, and in this kind of detail... I'll point out, that the quality of carpet in the Wynn shopping esplanade, is a fraction of the quality which he used in the ones at Bellagio. Now this may have simply came down to time, or an simple oversight, but when Wynn said in various interviews that no selection he ever made at Wynn came down to price, i had to wonder if that was really true. Because what's in Wynn is a fraction of the cost of the ones used in Bellagio.

January 11, 2009 10:32 PM Posted by detroit1051

Brian, is this the carpet in Bellagio's shopping area you're alluding to?
Even to an amateur like me, it looked like it was the best carpet in the world. It withstood many cleanings, but eventually, it got washed out looking. Is it still there, or did MGM replace it?

January 12, 2009 2:45 AM Posted by mike_ch

The Bellagio Esplenade carpeting is often faded or dirty and I have been calling for MGM Mirage to replace it for a while now in StripWalks. It's simply overuse. A chunk of it down a side hall near an employee doorway and some restrooms is still pretty vibrant and in good shape, mostly because it's not in the main drag.

As for what Brian quotes Wynn as saying, I think it's a little of columns A & B. I don't think he's chosen lesser quality products based on price, I think he's changed the vision to not use the same kind of materials throughout as he did at Bellagio. Like I said before, when he built Wynn he did have some shareholder money but he was largely funding it with his own dollars (and Okada's.) I don't think he skipped on anything he wanted, on the other hand I don't think he necessarily wanted so much if he was footing the bill.

January 12, 2009 9:09 AM Posted by Brian Fey

Detroit - Yes, that's the carpet I was talking about. Its a hand made wool carpeting, which probably came from somewhere in Asia, more than likely where labor is cheap, but even still its handmade and takes forever to make. It cost me in the range of $15-30 per sq foot on average. What they used at Wynn, is just the same base carpet that was used in the entire main casino and other areas, with just a different pattern. These are wool axminster carpets which are woven on a loom, and are much faster and cheaper to produce than a handmade product obviously. In many cases, on these carpets, they will also make them out of a blend of wool and nylon combined to keep the cost lower, as wool is the most expensive fiber used in broadloom carpeting.

I'm sure this is all VERY INTERESTING to each and every one of you. :-)

January 17, 2009 10:02 AM Posted by Lee

Ya, I too am liking the casino and such - but my friends wanted to see Switch in Action - that Vid shows some of it I saw above but is kinda sloppily done and does not show all the scenes or the pics - I heard the pictures change too?