Fast Company

Keeping it Cool

Mari Balestrazzi

Vice President of Design
Morgans Hotel Group

Mari Balestrazzi, the former director of design at Aero Studios and St. Regis, now leads the design team at Morgans Hotel Group.

"We're in growth mode, looking to extend the ethos established by Ian Schrager. The first two designers he worked with were Andrée Putman and Philippe Starck, and neither had ever designed a hotel. One of the company's original ideas was hotel as theater. It's this whole notion of risk taking and creating environments that are unexpected.

Design is paramount, and we take risks. It's integral to who we are. What 'unexpected' means in today's marketplace is different from what it meant 20 years ago, and that's the challenge. In some cases, our properties needed rehabilitation or at least some maintenance.

One designer we're working with is Marcel Wanders, who has such a unique, humorous but intelligent approach. We're doing the Mondrian South Beach and Mondrian Las Vegas with him. His sense of theater and larger-than-life perspective are going to give us something phenomenal. Guests have come to expect the next level of luxury, and it's our guests who will measure our success."

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