Even with a new hotel deal, Philippe Starck is as ‘cuckoo’ as ever.
At nearly 60 years old, bad-boy designer Philippe Starck is finally growing up...sort of. The exuberantly imaginative Frenchman—who has ricocheted from designing hotels from Manhattan’s Hudson to Hong Kong’s Jia to Rio’s Fasano—is settling down with a 15-year deal designing hotels, restaurants and nightclubs exclusively for Los Angeles–based nightlife and real estate impresario Sam Nazarian’s company, SBE. Their first project, the 297-room SLS at Beverly Hills, will open in the fall, followed by the Ritz Plaza in Miami next year and the redesigned Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 2011.
Of course, this isn’t Starck’s first time livening up hotels. He first burst onto that scene designing Ian Schrager’s original Royalton in New York in 1988. His grand statements at other Schrager establishments, such as the Delano in Miami, the Sanderson in London and the Mondrian in Los Angeles, were widely imitated, albeit in diluted form, by the larger chains.
“I need to make a new revolution,” says Starck in his heavily accented English from Las Vegas, where he is meeting to review plans with Nazarian and creative director Theresa Fatino. “Twenty-five years ago, we invented what they call the ‘boutique hotel.’ It was a huge success and everybody copied it. But for me, just to make the hundredth copy of the concept that I invented 25 years ago, I prefer a good sleep.”
Though he is still prone to gimmicks like mounting rows of unicorn heads on the walls, as he did at the Hotel Faena in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a few years ago, the new Starck professes to be more serious. “I try to be intelligent,” he says, though he admits, “I’m still French. I’m still cuckoo. It will always have a twist. I myself am twisted.”
At the SLS at Beverly Hills (which is housed on the former Le Meridien property), visitors will find relatively quiet, classic design—but never fear, Starck still has a little fun at Nazarian’s nearby S Bar, hanging lamps upside down from the ceiling. “We make hotels, nightclubs and restaurants, just to give pleasure,” points out Starck. “And if you want to give pleasure, you need to have pleasure during the process.”
Indeed, he seems happy with his new partner, who envisions the budding hotel chain as a high-design rival to the Four Seasons.
“It took me a year to get Starck on the phone,” says Nazarian, who eventually signed on the designer for his Los Angeles sushi restaurant, Katsuya, before their relationship blossomed into the exclusive contract they now share. (SBE has tied up Starck globally until 2011, and until 2020 in North America, the Caribbean and Mexico, though he can still satisfy his creative urges by designing myriad products from megayachts to bathroom fixtures for other clients.) “What we have done is allow him to dream,” Nazarian says of Starck. “He has a lot of ideas he never had a chance to implement.”
Meanwhile, the two men, known for their outspoken personalities, seem to be getting along well. “Sam is my brother, my soul mate. We never speak about business,” claims Starck. “We don’t discuss if the minimalist trend is better than Baroque or if gray is better than pink. We speak about vision, creativity, respect, poetry, intelligence and elegance.”
The two also see eye-to-eye on incorporating current eco and health trends into their projects.
“We shall not put stupid amenities like some candies, and fill the room so that people eat sugar and become fat,” insists Starck, who will also outfit the rooms with organic bath products and linens.
They will also give guests a chance to reclaim their manners. “I remember the Delano in Miami—people were stealing everything. They were even stealing the sinks,” he recalls. This time around, choice pieces of Starck’s furniture will be available for purchase through Italian manufacturer Cassina. Another bonus will be prioritized access to Nazarian’s popular clubs and restaurants, such as Foxtail, Hyde and Area.
But such cross-promotion—as well as the fact that corporate entity Starwood, the umbrella company that includes the Sheraton, Westin, W and St. Regis hotels, is the managing partner for the day-to-day operations of the SLS at Beverly Hills under its Luxury Collection brand—leads to some skepticism. “The cool kid in the class gets the backing that allows him to have a bigger audience, and the corporate side of things gets the aura of the cool kid being on their team, but I worry what the guest gets out of the relationship,” says Melissa Biggs Bradley, the founder of Indagare.com, a member-based luxury travel Web site. “In a way, it looks like the hotel version of Starck’s Target deal.”
“We are not doing it for money,” insists Starck. “We are here really to find solution to help our tribe to have a better life.”
For such a prodigious personality, the designer lives in a remarkably simple way when he is not flying around the globe in his private jet. In between bursts of intense work, he retreats to his oyster farm near Bordeaux, France, with his fourth wife, Jasmine. There, the couple lives a monastic existence relying solely on solar energy and rainwater.
“I have a sickness of creativity,” says Starck. “But I am not somebody who puts his name on any s--t designed by anybody. If I become bad, or if I see that somebody can do it better than me, I will stop immediately. But today everybody still looks happy with what I do. Why should I stop?”
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty