Ralph Pucci, best known for his expansive gallery for furniture, sculpture, rugs, lighting, photography, illustrations and mannequins, has a new venue for showcasing his eclectic mix. Pucci has signed a deal with LXR Luxury Resorts to transform the Georgetown Inn in Washington into the Hotel Ralph Pucci.
"This is a big leap for me," Pucci said in an exclusive interview about his first hotel venture. "But it's not about being over the top. The scale is not enormous. It's a boutique hotel with five floors, 18 or 19 rooms per floor, and each level will have a different feel."
Pucci is licensing his name to LXR Luxury Resorts and serving as a consulting partner on the project, which will be a complete renovation to the tune of $20 million. It will be a sophisticated, low-key, intimate and artistic mood that Pucci seeks to capture through the use of muted tones, woods, background music by Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald, and, most importantly, the creative contributions of several of those who exhibit in his gallery, which comprises the Penthouse and Gallery Nine showrooms in Manhattan at 44 West 18th Street. He also has a Los Angeles showroom, at 8687 Melrose Avenue.
"The hotel will be elegant, modern and timeless. Quality will be the central theme. Trendiness is not part of this equation," Pucci said.
He began as a manufacturer of mannequins, which of course won't be included in the hotel tableau. Pucci since has evolved into bringing an array of home furnishings and art from Europe and America under one roof like a cultural melting pot. It's a blend of nature-inspired work, modern classics, contemporary, mid-century and minimalist works, and always very high-end.
With Hotel Ralph Pucci, he's taking the same aesthetic and collaborative spirit to another level. While Pucci has set the master plan and design philosophy for the hotel, he's having Pilar Proffitt and Robert Bristow, a husband and wife team for interior design and architecture, create the facade, lobby, public spaces, restaurant, room layouts, the furniture for the public spaces and one floor. Pucci represents Bristow's furniture collection. The hotel, located at 1310 Wisconsin Avenue, is scheduled to open in the fall."We want the architecture to be a quiet backdrop for the beautiful pieces of furniture and fantastic photography that Ralph is assembling. We're not screaming for attention," Bristow said. "In Ralph's showroom, the spacing is very generous. He gives each piece in his showroom all this room to breathe. Ralph treats each piece with enormous respect, and we want to do the same, as best we can, in a boutique hotel setting." Bristow said he'll bring a "warm minimalism" to the project.
Pucci has selected four other furniture designers to create special pieces for a single floor. Jens Risom will provide mid-century modern pieces; there will be modern furniture by Patrick Naggar; pieces by Paul Mattieu, described by Pucci as "sculptural elegance," and classic furniture by Christophe Delcourt. All the furniture will be manufactured at the same workshops that produce the pieces by these designers in Pucci's showroom.
Every floor will have a distinct color palette, and original photographs by Paul Solberg, Antoine Bootz, Gail Leboff, Diego Uchitel and Christopher Makos. The photographers get a floor each to hang their photos, and rooms on all levels will have lighting by David Weeks and rugs by Madeline Weinrib.
Pucci, president of Ralph Pucci International, described his mission as bringing to Georgetown "what's next, new and exciting" from his design stable. "Every aspect of the hotel, from the rooms to the public spaces, will be custom-designed and reflect a new philosophy."
Pucci will also collaborate with Tomer, a men's wear designer, to create hotel uniforms, which will be inspired by the jazz greats of the Fifties, and the lobby will display the works of different young and new artists every four months, who are expected to eventually associate with Pucci.
"Ralph is a true retailer, an artistic retailer," said John Ceriale, chief executive officer of LXR Luxury Resorts, which operates a total of 33 resorts, hotels and spas in the U.S. and the Caribbean, such as the Boca Raton Resort & Club, the El Conquistador in Puerto Rico, the Boulders in Arizona and the London NYC, formerly the Rihga.
LXR, formed in August 2005 by affiliates of Blackstone Real Estate Advisors, has a reputation for forming alliances with famous chefs, architects and designers such as Thierry Despont, Alexandra Champalimaud and David Collins. It was Ceriale's idea to get Pucci for the Georgetown project. The two were previously acquainted after Ceriale made some personal purchases from Pucci's gallery, including pieces by Herve Van Der Straeten, Chris Lehrecke, Jens Risom and David Weeks."This is an unusual project. We are not looking for mass appeal. I've given Ralph an amazing amount of license, I don't want this to be John Ceriale-inspired," said Ceriale. "It's going to be a very artistic environment, for people who love fine things and unusual design."
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