Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Late Arrival at the Delano

Phillipe Starck has built an architectural reputation by designing the hippest, coolest hotels around the world. Almost single-handed, he has refocused the attention of hoteliers on venues that are hyper-contemporary yet chic. His designs are youth-oriented; everyone is a rock star upon entering a Phillipe Starck-designed lobby. 
Grand lobby at the Delano, Miami Beach. 
I have stayed at a few Phillipe Starck properties over the years: the Mondrian in Hollywood, the Paramount in Manhatten.  The overriding esthetic is always light-hearted but sophisticated. One venue, the Delano in Miami Beach,  has been open since the late 1990s, but I have never had the opportunity to see it.  Until last week.
Poolside patio. 
Lounge area. 

Extensively reviewed in the architectural journals when it opened, the Delano has been on my to do list for quite a while. I consider it one of Starck's best. Understated and lavish at the same time, it's architectural success resides in its simplicity.  Sheer fabrics form a diaphanous colonnade that stretches from lobby straight through the ground floor to an outdoor pool. You could be in a Greek temple or in a dream. The processional plan is compelling and elegant. The problem with some buildings is that the architecture can be compelling, but, at times, too compelling. Even Starck sometimes throws too much into a good design. The result is visual and mental clutter.  Not so at the Delano. It is elegantly simple, like a clean mathematical solution to a complex problem.
Pool at the Delano.
The Delano is actually a recycled art deco property. The dramatic makeover does not hide its landmark pedigree, but still stands firmly in the present. This high-wire act of balancing between historicism and innovation has turned out to be a successful formula. The Delano attracts a stream of international celebrities. In essence, the Delano is a stage set for stylish occasions, real or imagined.

I was a late arrival at the Delano, but - like all good design - it passes the test of time.
The historic art deco structure. 
Poolside cabanas.

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