The Cherokee at Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort - CODAworx

The Cherokee at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort

Submitted by BLUR Workshop

Client: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Dreamcatcher Hotels

Location: Cherokee, NC, United States

Completion date: 2021

Project Team

Interior Design

Debbie Wong

BLUR Workshop

Art Consultant

Sally Faulkner

Faulkner and Locke

Artist Rock Sculptor

Carl Peverall

Glass Light Sculpture Feature

Preciosa Lighting

Sculptural GFRG Ceiling

Armstrong Ceilings


Galina Juliana Coada


The Cherokee at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort celebrates the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who are notable for their strong heritage and historical journey. We wanted to pay homage by designing an environment that showcases their story in an intriguing and beautiful way. The hotel expansion tower and convention center consists of 725 guest rooms which include 74 suites; two of which are 800 square feet exclusive hospitality suites. The grand lobby was designed to illustrate the EBCI’s story by featuring a large, intricate glass chandelier that is suspended over a massive rock sculpture, crafted by a local artisan. Taking cues from the natural landscape of the surrounding area, the hotel was designed with a soft earthy color palette and strategic lighting to transform the space into something that was reflective of the EBCI’s culture, history, and Tribal narrative. The expansion also includes 32,000 square feet of ballroom space and another 32,000 square feet of exhibit hall space equipped to cater to various sporting tournaments and events. The hotel also features a renowned celebrity chef restaurant.


The goal was to create a space that provided a visual storytelling experience to share the Tribal stories of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. We wanted to put emphasis on the history and stories of the tribe with a bespoke curation of artwork which made it imperative to have commissioned artwork throughout. The Cherokee story “How the Earth was Made” is showcased in the lobby to illustrate the Tribal origin. That along with supplemental stories in other public spaces, for instance the “Water Spider,” allowed us to develop a more in-depth overall experience for the guest to feel intrigued and curious as they explored. Every artistic feature represented an important detail of the stories and allowed us to celebrate and embrace what was important to the Tribe. Everything had to seamlessly work with one another to keep the storytelling authentic and consistent.


Starting with the massive rock sculpture (earth) from the Tribal story, we collaborated with local artisan, Carl Peverall, that explored the local area to find large boulders that he felt spoke to each other. He used them as counterweights to each other and carved out areas to create our vision. The story included birds that were sent out to explore the earth. We commissioned a large sweeping abstract light fixture with Preciosa that had 136 custom hand-blown glass pieces shaped like birds hovering over the sculpture. Then we introduce the story of the Water Spider, transforming the 32,000 SF ballroom into another visual art moment with a custom GFRG ceiling design. We created the illusion of the water spider with Armstrong Ceilings by strategically placing lights to rake across the sculptural ceiling, providing depth and dimensionality. The process started with a 3D model studying every angle and how the light hit each crevice. We reviewed shop drawings and mock ups to finalize 80 panels to create this illusion of a spider cascading over the space. Art comes in many forms and mediums. We were honored to get the opportunity to showcase how art can go beyond a blank canvas.