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6 6 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 7 GLAMOUR IN THE DESERT in as well. The space is located directly below the hotel's signature top-floor steakhouse, Cielo, and directly above a floor of VIP suites, putting extensive demolition out of the question. "There wasn't much construction involved. We didn't have the time, for one thing, and because we were sand- wiched between a high-end restaurant and guest suites, demoing things like the tiles on the walls and columns would have been a big, loud mess," Us- senko says. "We did demo the tile floors throughout and much of the bar, but for the most part, my approach was to cre- ate everything I wanted on top of what was already there." Starting with James' vision, Us- senko set out to marry modern luxury and tribal heritage in a way that would honor both. "Because Morongo is an Indian hotel and casino, John wanted to tap into the character of something that is really important, which is the culture and history of the tribal drums," he says. "So he created the theme and a canvas for the concept and basically stood at the bar one day and said that he wanted it to be glamorous, dazzling, exquisite and a list of 20 other adjectives. Then he told me to run with it." Materials First, Then Design Mindful of the schedule, Ussenko ap- proached the project with a materials- first strategy, researching not just what he'd like to use to bring The Drum Room to life but which finishes he could realistically source and which custom craftspeople could deliver on the proj- ect's tight timeline. All of the furniture and millwork would have to be custom designed and crafted, as would the carpet, the centerpiece light fixture and the decora- tive drumheads that carry the concept's theme. The red agate that would add an earthy yet swanky glow to the bar and column faces would have to be shipped in and fabricated. And significant struc- tural reinforcements in the ceiling would be required to accommodate Ussenko's vision for big, glamorous light fixtures. On top of those challenges, every piece of the puzzle would have to be of a size and shape that would fit in the hotel's freight elevator. "I spent the first week creating a materials list of what I wanted to apply to the space and making calls to figure out where I could get them and whether or not I could get them fast enough," Ussenko says. "With the exception of the red agate, which I found from a supplier in Israel, I was able to source everything here in California and rely on some great vendors and craftsmen that I've used in other projects." Project Team Concept development: John James and Team Morongo Design: Kenneth Ussenko Design General contractor: Jeffrey Wilhelm, Sage Mountain Construction Co. Millwork/carpentry/stonework: David M. Collings, Collings Interiors LLC Custom furniture: David Bina, Deco Home Custom center chandelier and drums: Gabriel Corona, Corona Concepts Custom carpeting: Donovan Johnson, The Finishing Touch Additional chandeliers and sconces: Stephanie Roberson, RH Contract Wall wraps and signage: Todd Gibb, Boss Printing LLC Custom tables: Bill Sankey, Gatehouse Living Currently operating as a VIP lounge and private-event space, The Drum Room accommodates parties of up to 120 guests. It may open to the public for occasional special events featuring celebrity guest drummers.