Each year we gather a select handful of our favourite people spanning the different disciplines covered by Wallpaper* to judge ten categories of our annual Design Awards in association with Jaguar. And counting down the days to the event itself, we thought it wise to give you a little insight into the minds and achievements of the characters casting the all-important votes…
Day one: André Balazs
This Hungarian-born, New York-based hotelier knows a thing or two about luxury accommodation. Indeed if we were tasked with living in a hotel for the rest of our days you can be sure Balazs’ locations would dominate our shortlist.
Balazs discovered his skill for creating venues in the late Eighties, when he co-launched the conceptual nightclubs Area and MK in New York. Instantly hitting upon the successful formula of targeting the design of each to the specific social tribe he sought to harness it wasn’t long before he moved onto bigger projects.
But woe betide anybody who accuses Balazs of sticking to a formula. The handful of world-renowned hotels he‘s subsequently helmed are landmark destinations precisely because they are so eclectically tailored to the physicality of each individual location and space.
From the louche decadence of LA’s Chateau Marmont to the minimalist loft-style of New York’s Mercer, the buzzing urban vibe of The Standard in Los Angeles to the breezy seaside feel of Shelter Island’s Sunset Beach, Balazs has a knack of nailing what people want from each location. Harnessing tastemakers and trendsetters in throngs, his success as a hotelier has accrued him celebrity status in the design world.
The latest development has seen Balazs turn his hand to residential property to similarly impressive effect. All 53 of Richard Gluckman’s One Kenmare Square apartments sold before the interiors were even installed while Jean Nouvel’s 40 Mercer Residents lured the French starchitect to work in the states for the first time. Word on the street is that Balazs himself is planning to hop across the Atlantic to London for his next project.