Design in the last few years has been enjoying it’s own bubble, as the mega-rich hovered up $50,000 tables and million-dollar chaise lounges. Not any more. And as a symbol of that gilded age, the newly opened Mondrian South Beach, with interiors by Marcel Wanders, is hard to top.
The official unveiling of the hotel/condo development occured last month at Art Basel, one of the world’s signature contemporary art fairs. That was doubly appropriate: The fair not only seemed to mark the popping of the contemporary-art bubble, but it all went down on Miami Beach, one of the epicenters for easy mortgage credit and condo flipping. In fact, the Mondrian was intended to be a real-life, fairy-tail folly. The dream’s over, but we’ve still got the Mondrian to prove it all actually happened.
Wanders created the dream-like atmosphere by leaning heavily on quirkly juxtapositions of scale: Interior columns that look like the enormous legs of a Victorian dining table; huge pendant lights that subtly evoke single lightbulbs; and bell enclosures for chandeliers that evoke a medieval belfry:
One of Marcel Wander’s trademarks was his use of over-the-top, baroque patterns, which you can see in the hotel’s signature staircase and its room decorations. At first his use of pattern seemed witty and arch—a stylistic a backlash against the grim minimalism of the 1980s and 1990s. But now, it’s worth remembering that, in times from the Baroque to the Gilded Age, an obsession with decorative flourishes has presaged an economic busts or political revolutions.