Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 107

A view of the 160 Leroy residential
project in Manhattan's West Village

The lobby bar at the New York EDITION, designed in
collaboration with Rockwell Group

After graduating from law school at
St. John's University in New York, you
and your business partner, the late
Steve Rubell, who you met during
school at Syracuse University, opened
Enchanted Gardens in Queens. After
that came Studio 54 in 1977, which
immediately became a celebrity haunt.
Did you have any inkling it was going
to become the phenomenon it was?
We wanted to do the best club in the world. It
was a very young industry at that time so there
was one lighting guy, one sound guy, and they
were told by all the other nightclub guys at
the time not to work with us. All the clubs for
straight people were pick up places, and the gay
clubs were all for serious dancing. Every week
there was a new ultimate nightclub opening up
but for people who looked like vampires during
the day.
Because these typical nightclub people
couldn't work with us, we were forced to go
out of the industry. That was a seminal event.
It gave us the impetus. We worked with really
brilliant people. The place was a spectacle and
just took off.

The idea of the velvet rope didn't really
exist in the same way before Studio 54.
Was that a strategy or an accident?
It was a strategy. Part of it was we were in the
middle of Times Square and we wanted to keep
the street people out. We also tried to exercise
the same judgment one does at home; you sit
somebody talkative next to somebody not so
talkative so it's a good dinner party. It's okay
to do that in a private domain. When you do
it in a public venue, it's politically incorrect.
People got pissed off. But we were trying to get
a good mix. It was an impulsive, quick decision
so a lot of mistakes happened, but it was the
idea of creating diversity-not just a bunch of
rich people, but also a hairdresser in jeans and
no shirt dancing with a fancy woman with
diamonds and a gown. It creates an energy.

I know with each individual project,
there's one thing that resonates with
you, something that made it worth it.

Is there a moment there you hold onto?
I haven't talked about it for 30 years; I'm just
now feeling comfortable. I am doing a book
on it and a movie. The night we opened, I left
after the night turned the corner and Steve
stayed later-we used to say I left too early,
Steve stayed too late. I got a phone call first
thing in the morning that we were on the cover
of the New York Post, which is unheard of for a
nightclub.

After that you opened Palladium in
1985 in New York, designed by Arata
Isozaki. Bringing in an interesting
designer for a project is almost
mandatory now, but at that time it
wasn't. How did the process go?
Dealing with someone that lives thousands of
miles away was very difficult. Andrée Putman
[who designed Morgans] had never done a hotel
before and Isozaki had never done a nightclub.
But I had seen his work, and it resonated with
me. I called him up-it was the middle of the
night in Tokyo-and asked him if he wanted
to do it. I thought a nightclub was more about
architecture than anything else because it
really has no product other than the space you
create. He sent me two models within a week
or two.
Studio 54 cost $400,000. The budget [for
Palladium] was $3 million, and it wound up
costing $10 million. I didn't really want to do
Studio 54's
dance floor

The London EDITION lobby,
designed in collaboration
with Yabu Pushelberg

it; Steve wanted to do it more. I agreed because
we were building our first hotel, and it would be
good to have money coming in. But it wasn't the
same thrill for me even though it was a bigger
achievement technology wise.

I assume the scene had changed a bit.
The scene was different, but people always want
to socialize, always want to dance. You have
to find the right medium. A great nightclub
can always work because we're social beings.
And even more so because of everyone on the
internet now-people crave more than ever
that limited time of socializing, which is why
community offices and living are happening.

Back then there were 5-Star hotels
and budget hotels. There wasn't this
hybrid of lifestyle. Was that something
you always wanted to do or did the
opportunity breed the idea?
There's story one and story two. Story two is
when we sold Studio 54, the guy couldn't pay
the promissory notes, and we traded for his
interest in a hotel. But the real thing is the
hotel is a hospitality business, and it is a logical
progression. If you're in the nightclub business,
the bar business, the restaurant business, or the
hotel business, it's all the same kind of goals-
there is a connection. But I also got sucked
into the competition going on between Donald
Trump and Harry Helmsley. Trump was
opening the Grand Hyatt, and Helmsley was
opening the Palace [both in New York]. They
were playing up the older titan versus the new
titan of real estate, and I got sucked into that
thinking we could do something better.

After working with Putman for Morgans,
you started a long relationship with
Philippe Starck as your main designer.
How did you find him?

Roy Halston, Bianca Jagger, and
Andy Warhol at a Studio 54 New
Year's Eve party

Just like Isozaki, I saw his work published.
It was a French brassiere reinvented with
bathrooms that nobody knew how to use. I
thought a guy like that could rethink a hotel.
He and I got along very, very well. He was
iconoclastic and undisciplined. He had no
formal training but was brilliant. The stuff we

hospitalitydesign.com November 2016

107


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Hospitality Design - November 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - November 2016

Hospitality Design - November 2016
Contents
Online TOC
From the Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Memoir
Places Tel Aviv
Places Jason’s Picks
5 Questions for John Mcdonald
Products
Profile Jono Pandolfi
Lighting
Seating
Wallcoverings
The New Icons
Ad Index
Back Space
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Hospitality Design - November 2016
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Cover2
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 1
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 2
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 3
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 4
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 5
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 6
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 7
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 8
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 9
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 10
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 11
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 12
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Contents
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 14
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 15
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 16
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Online TOC
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 18
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 19
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 20
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 21
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - From the Editor
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 23
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 24
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 25
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - From the Guest Editor
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 27
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 28
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 29
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 30
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 31
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 32
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 33
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 34
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Perspectives
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 36
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 37
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 38
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Memoir
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 40
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 41
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 42
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 43
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 44
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Places Tel Aviv
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 46
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 47
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 48
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 49
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 50
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 51
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 52
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Places Jason’s Picks
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 54
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 55
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 56
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 57
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 58
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 59
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 60
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 61
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 62
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 63
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 64
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 65
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 66
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 67
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 5 Questions for John Mcdonald
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 69
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 70
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 71
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 72
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 73
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 74
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Products
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 76
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 77
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 78
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Profile Jono Pandolfi
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 80
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 81
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 82
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Lighting
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 84
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 85
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 86
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 87
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 88
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 89
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 90
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Seating
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 92
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 93
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 94
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 95
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 96
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 97
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 98
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Wallcoverings
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 100
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 101
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 102
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 103
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 104
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - The New Icons
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 106
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 107
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 108
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 109
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 110
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 111
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Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 139
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 140
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 141
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Ad Index
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 143
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Back Space
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Cover3
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Cover4
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