Behind the scenes, host Seth Meyers makes sure guests are welcomed with dressing rooms and a greenroom of uncommon style
In the minds of many people, television dressing rooms are the stuff of fantasy: oases of glamour amid the chaos of filming, places to relax and refuel in style. So it might disappoint them to learn that nowadays such chambers are often little more than closet-size coves outfitted with bland furnishings and fluorescent lighting. Refreshingly, such is not the case on the set of NBC’s new Late Night with Seth Meyers. When the funnyman was tapped to host the show, he made it a priority to introduce some panache to its backstage spaces at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York.
The idea was born out of conversations Meyers had with his sister-in-law and longtime friend, Ariel Ashe, of the Manhattan design firm Ashe + Leandro. “I myself do not have a smart visual sense, but I am smart enough to turn to people who do,” says the comedian, who spent 13 years at Saturday Night Live, filmed just down the hall. He tasked Ashe and her creative partner, architect Reinaldo Leandro, with conceiving his personal suite as well as four dressing rooms for the show’s band members—among them SNL alumnus Fred Armisen—and celebrity guests; he also had the designers revamp the greenroom and kitchen.
For Ashe, the job signified a homecoming of sorts. Fifteen years ago she got her start interning for SNL’s set department. “I’ve been designing homes for Seth ever since we met,” says Ashe, whose younger sister, Alexi (a lawyer), married Meyers last September. “At the beginning of this project I put together a presentation and sent it to him and the show’s producers. They all said, ‘Looks great!’ He’s the best client you can have.”
Meyers describes their professional relationship in different if no less complimentary terms. “Ariel and I have a long history of her rescuing me from bad decisions,” he says. “She has a way of making a place feel modern but with throwback touches.”
Whereas the Late Night stage strikes an Art Deco tone, with its illuminated proscenium arch reminiscent of the Chrysler Building’s iconic crown, the backstage spaces (carved out of former storage areas) are at once midcentury in style and contemporary in spirit. New concrete floors were poured, replacing a patchwork of shabby linoleum, and drop ceilings were removed to add air and height. In lieu of the building’s standard fluorescent panels, Ashe and Leandro chose an eclectic range of light fixtures: Sculptural sconces by Los Angeles artisan Jason Koharik now mingle with cork ceiling lamps by London designer Benjamin Hubert.
The furniture, meanwhile, is a mix of vintage finds and bespoke pieces. Among the latter are cocktail tables and mirrors by Robert Pluhowski, a woodworker based in Hoboken, New Jersey, who also helped camouflage some of the dressing rooms’ less aesthetically pleasing necessities. Sinks are set into laminate-top walnut vanities while mini-refrigerators slide snugly beneath minimalist side tables, also walnut. Ashe and Leandro gave each room its own identity: Custom-made sofas in the style of vintage Dunbar are covered in different fabrics, and every space has a distinct wall treatment.
The goal, says the duo, was to devise a scheme that would stand up to backstage antics but also brim with personality—or as Leandro puts it, “be comfortable but special.” Adds Ashe, “You’re about to go on TV. You should feel like you’re in an important space.” (“No one has stormed out yet,” jokes Meyers.)
Standing in these storied halls, in rooms now handsomely furnished, the message is clear: It’s showtime.
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