DO IT AGAIN

CAN THE NEW PUB­LIC HO­TEL DO FOR HOS­PI­TAL­ITY WHAT STU­DIO 54 DID FOR NIGHTLIFE? IAN SCHRAGER, FOUNDER OF BOTH, SAYS “YES.”

Gotham - - Space - BY OUSSAMA ZAHR

Tell us a lit­tle bit of the thought process be­hind the Pub­lic ho­tel. I saw a void in the mar­ket­place. Ev­ery­thing changes. Fash­ion changes, cul­ture changes, art changes, cars we drive change, even the kitchen ap­pli­ances we use change. And for some rea­son ho­tels haven’t. In ad­di­tion to that, the def­i­ni­tion of luxury has changed. I don’t think it’s about sta­tus and pres­tige, or how much some­thing costs. I think it’s re­ally about how it makes you feel. What did Jean-ge­orges Von­gerichten, some­one so as­so­ci­ated with fine din­ing, think about the luxury-for-all con­cept and how that might re­late to his restau­rant for the ho­tel? He loves it. He thinks it’s a great idea. The ho­tel and the restau­rant are not dumbed down. We’re not ap­peal­ing to the low­est—we’re ap­peal­ing to the high­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor. I was struck by the ho­tel’s pub­lic spa­ces. They’re so pro­nounced and beau­ti­fully de­signed—al­most like a mul­ti­story club. Was that a part of the think­ing as well—the idea of what a pub­lic space could be? It just made sense to do a pub­lic space that was a mi­cro­cosm of the best New York City had to of­fer. We were try­ing to make a ho­tel more than just a place to sleep. If you wanted to go to the best restau­rant, the best bar, the best club, to see the best en­ter­tain­ment, or the best cul­tural events, it just

made sense [to have it] right down­stairs—never hav­ing to leave. It’s al­most like a so­cial and com­mu­nity-cen­ter space. In your new cof­fee-table book about Stu­dio 54 (Riz­zoli, $75), you men­tion your fear that the club was so big it would look empty if there weren’t enough peo­ple. Are you still dogged by those fears? Of course. I’m al­ways afraid that I’m go­ing to throw a party and no one is go­ing to come. I was then, and I still am. That’s what makes me so re­lent­less, I sup­pose. It’s not easy to make the It spot. How do you do it? You have to cre­ate magic. If you ask me how you do that, I couldn’t tell you. I think it’s just a ques­tion of mas­ter­ing all the de­tails. Put it

“I’M AL­WAYS AFRAID THAT I’M GO­ING TO THROW A PARTY AND NO ONE IS GO­ING TO COME. THAT’S WHAT MAKES ME SO RE­LENT­LESS, I SUP­POSE.”— IAN SCHRAGER

all to­gether. When you do that, the alchemy hap­pens, and peo­ple re­spond to it. There’s no map. It’s done very in­tu­itively. Is it about pleas­ing oth­ers or pleas­ing your­self? Well, hon­estly, I think any cre­ative per­son knows things that they them­selves like and then they’re al­ways amazed that other peo­ple also like them. I think prob­a­bly the great fash­ion de­sign­ers do the clothes they love. The great film di­rec­tors do the kind of movies they like. That’s the way to be true to your­self. You hap­pen to be lucky if what you’re do­ing is also some­thing that res­onates with lots of peo­ple. Did writ­ing the Stu­dio book make you nos­tal­gic, or would you choose a dif­fer­ent ad­jec­tive? I’m not a re­ally nos­tal­gic per­son. I more loved putting it into con­text and kind of try­ing to ex­plain why it’s be­come such a phe­nom­e­non and why it con­tin­ues to mes­mer­ize peo­ple. Still, was there one mem­ory that just grabbed you by the heart and wouldn’t let go? I re­mem­ber the first night we opened. I had left, I was ex­hausted. The whole place had been built in six weeks. Steve [Rubell, the club’s co­founder] called me up early the next morn­ing—he was just get­ting in—telling me that we were on the front page of the New York Post. That’s one of the fond mem­o­ries. You left when it was go­ing well, but you didn’t re­al­ize it was go­ing to be as big as it was. Right. How could you? It’s been about two months since the Pub­lic ho­tel opened. Is it too soon to say it’s a suc­cess? If it was Stu­dio, I’d be go­ing home now. 215 Chrystie St., 212-7356000; pub­li­cho­tels.com .

Leg­endary hote­lier Ian Schrager (ƭƨʃ ƥƞɵƭ) wants to rede­fine the con­cept of luxury with the new Pub­lic ho­tel. ƚƛƨưƞ: Schrager likens the ho­tel’s guest rooms, de­signed by Her­zog & de Meu­ron, to cab­ins on a yacht. ƭƨʃ ƫƣơơƭ: He de­scribes the ho­tel’s...

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