Philippe Starck’s Starck-iest Hotel Designs

Written by Cody

The best designers are the ones that work on many scales. From the grandest of architectural projects to everyday products that anyone can take home, the greats are known for being able to take their craft across platforms.

Among those portfolios you’ll find many designers taking their talents to hotel interiors, such as Arne Jacobsen’s SAS Royal Copenhagen (now Raddison Blu). If you’re a fan of a particular designer’s work, hotel projects can be a great way to fully immerse yourself inside the designer’s world in a way you may never be able to at home.

“Designer” hotels like this often have a storied history in their custom design, and one could argue that no one paints a design story like contemporary icon Philippe Starck. Here are few Starck spaces that might be worth adding a night or two onto your next vacation itinerary.


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Starck was charged with revitalizing this icon of the Silver Coast to give it a modern edge while respecting is history.

And in a divinely Starck-ian way, he has really nailed this on the head. Described by the designer himself as “Neither cute, nor charming, but chic and cosmopolite,” the space amazingly balances new and old. The designer has captured the warmth and coziness of a casual family holiday home–if your family happened to be a Rothchild or Michelin.

What impresses me the most is the mix of materials and eras that still feels somehow effortless. Starck worked with the historic basque-influenced architecture, introducing a melange of clean line materials and rich textural details. He balances clean, smooth walls with rich, textual African masques and finishes off with the ruched silk lampshades dotting the walls. The end result is a space that feels nostalgic but absolutely of-the-moment.

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If you feel like splurging on your stay, check out the private Apartments. These gorgeous rooms feel like bungalows in the sky. Again that mix of clean white masses mixed with light woods and historical art and decor maintains the sense of history a hotel of this caliber and age deserves while making it truly part of the 21st century.

Le Meurice

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The Le Meurice is another Starck-ian approach to a historic space. This Grand Dame of Paris hotels has been open since 1835, and Starck turned up the surrealism in refreshing the iconic Louis the XVI interiors.

About it, Starck says: “The project aims to explore more deeply, and in all possible ways, the surrealist universe that is the life, the structure and the soul of the Le Meurice. If God is in the details, the devil of surrealism is too.”

The design shows Starck’s sensitivity to the history and importance of the spaces that he works with. There is an extreme reverence that is apparent with the design; his touches are soft and subtle nods to modernism within the rich and heady interiors. The Alain Ducasse restaurant is a perfect example. You almost have to look twice to pick up on the swan chairs, the iconic Starck pleated shades lining the walls, the heavy and clean crystal drop. The pieces are ultra unique but used so subtly that they feel organic to the room. That soft hand continues through the Le Dali Restaurant, which maintains a sense of opulence among the clean-lined space. Hints of the eponymous surrealist can be seen throughout the room, especially in the upholstery and textiles (which were designed by Starck’s daughter Ara).

Mama Shelter

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Mama Shelter hotels and restaurants are a much different project than a refresh of an iconic hotel. Mama Shelter is Philippe Starck, cut free of the constraints of history and a design for a much younger and more urban clientele. The hotel line has several locations, including Paris, Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro, among others.

From Starck: “There are not projects without something very strong behind them; a humanity reason, social reason, or a love reason. A vision. Otherwise no legitimacy exists. We cannot separate Mama Shelter from its genius, simple application of a vision and a story.”

Here we see a darker, more playful concept. With freedom to manipulate the complete spaces you see the whimsical play of modern and antique that Starck is known for.

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This is on full display in the restaurant and pizzeria in Paris. The raw concrete of the building’s structure. The chalkboard-effect ceiling creating an intimate feeling throughout the open space. The dark finishes are offset with spotlighting over a casual spill of tables and mismatched chairs with industrial and historical details.

The Pizzeria continues the same vibe of the restaurant’s, but takes a slightly more casual feel with family style bar height tables. The longer, narrow space is again reinforced through the repetition of the Tom Dixon’s Beat Light Pendants and the étagères crowned with these fantastic eagle sculptures.

The rooms themselves mirror a darker feel with a blend of raw concrete and smooth black walls. The clean spaces are kept from feeling too cold with the addition of chalkboard printed rugs and pops of Starck’s iconic translucent designs. I adore the bedside lamps, which are just construction lights covered with iconic Halloween masks. Genius.

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Hotel Metz

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This is a hotel that will not be open until 2018, and well, it’s not exactly your standard hotel. But this next Starck creation is definitely one to look forward to.

Designed as an artistic statement as part of the complex around the new satellite Centre Pompidou in Metz, the hotel is going to be something truly iconic. Stark describes the design as a response to history and modernism, with its grand villa perched on top of a monochromatic tower. It’s a vision so odd that it really takes a moment to really understand. The design is so clean and so whimsical that it seems to be a mash up of Miyazaki and Blade Runner. In other words, I can’t wait.

About the author



Cody Torgersrud is part of the sales team, which works directly with customers who call and email in. When not remodeling his 1950s bungalow, Cody enjoys refinishing vintage and antique furniture as well as binging on British TV.

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