Four designers tell Kathryn Tully about their favourite hotels around the world, why they stay there, and assess when a hotel's approach to art and design succeeds or fails.
PHILIP TREACY, milliner
When I was asked if I would like to be design director of The G hotel in Galway, my first thought was absolutely not! I had never worked on a hotel before but, of course, a hat designer can design other things. Design is about taste.
Now the hotel is finished, some of the details are very 'mine'. The concierge desk is like a miniature amphitheatre. It's a shape I made, like ones I make hats from, and then enlarged to 15 feet high. It's a kind of shell. People look at other hotels, come back to the designer and say, 'But they have it in the Four Seasons.' And my response would be, 'Well, then I don't want it'.
I took the same approach to art for the hotel. I bought neon art saying, 'This Must Be The Place'. I also saw that a 1950s Irving Penn Vogue cover was coming to auction, estimated at £15,000. I went with my friend Isabella Blow and £50,000 later, got it, but I thought a few beautiful things would be better than oceans of junk.
JIMMIE KARLSSON of furniture designers Jimmie Martin Ltd
I'm always a sucker for Philippe Starck hotels. I find him hard to beat from a design perspective. I know he has been around for a long time, but our work is all about breaking boundaries and he excels at that. All of his hotels are so cool. Some people say that they are bored of the boutique hotel look, but hey, I'm not.
It was great that The Surrey in New York commissioned us, because it is quite a traditional hotel and they had the guts to put furniture of ours in there with graffiti all over it. It shows how in-your-face pieces can still work in a very classic environment and retain that luxury feel about them.
We also do interior design work, which is not necessarily the same as the Jimmie Martin style, but definitely pushes the boundaries more than you would see in an average hotel. I find that most hotels do tend to play it too safe, especially the big brands.
ROD WINTERROWD, interior designer
Home for me in London is Claridges. While retaining the classically Deco splendor, they have cleverly redone rooms with a more modern spin. Certain rooms and suites have been revitalised with neutral palettes and clean lines, but the beautiful antiques remain. The Bar - The Fumoir - is handsome, deadly chic, hip and young, but still of the period, as is the restaurant. The eclectic mixing of old and new produces a fluid, authentic and tranquil result.
Too often great properties are destroyed by bad design that bears no relationship to what the building was or what it is. There is certainly a place for properties by Ian Schrager and Andre Balazs, the inventive and talented owners of fun, whimsical, minimally designed hotels, but this ubiquitous approach is now a global prototype for new and renovated hotels.
The limited imaginations that think this concept is 'de rigueur' lack an appreciation of what great hotel experiences once were. Not everyone wants to stay in a white ice cube.
ANNE PASTERNAK, president and artistic director of Creative Time
I tend to be very loyal. I stay in The Standard Hotels wherever I go and I did this even before Creative Time partnered with them to curate art programmes for the hotels. They are luxurious, at the right price, yet very hip. The Standard's Andre Balazs has such a fierce creative vision and arts professionals really respect him.
I also love Ritz-Carlton Hotels. I think they were the first in the US to put emerging artists in their hotels. Now that is much more common, but at the time it was a real breakthrough. Some of the artists they feature are very well known, but some are completely new. You would not have thought that a traditional brand like Ritz-Carlton would take this approach, but I love how they combine the traditional and the contemporary.
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