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Ian Schrager Teams Up With Marriott, in a New Waikiki Resort

Ian Schrager new offering is the first in a series of joint ventures with hotel giant Marriott.

No plastic gnomes like the St. Martin’s Lane. No giant Starckian chairs like the Clift. No Schnabels, Harings, or Basquiats on the wall like the Gramercy Park. No billowing white draperies, or hallucinogenic lobbies like the Delano.

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Just a serene oasis, a stone’s throw from the tattoo parlors, fast food joints and “aloha wear” that characterize Waikiki.

The Waikiki property, built from a shell of a 1960s hotel on the property, is the first of a boutique line of hotels called “Edition” that Schrager is doing for Marriott ? the first time he’s paired with a corporate partner. In the next year or so, Schrager will roll out additional Editions in Istanbul, Barcelona, Mexico City, and Bangkok. Each will be designed by a different designer (Patricia Urqiuola is working on the Edition in Barcelona).

While the Marriott will operate the hotels, Schrager has final say over the design, as the collection’s creative director. Each hotel will be different, growing out of the context where it’s located rather than having a unifying aesthetic. The thing that will unite them, Schrager says, is their approach and attitude toward the modern lifestyle.

New York-based interior designers George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, of the firm Yabu Pushelberg, designed the Waikiki property. In a conversation over breakfast near their Soho offices, the designers said Schrager introduced them to his newest concept by inviting them to his own apartment at 41 Bond Street.

“It was very restrained, very pared back,” Pushelberg said. “Schrager told us, ?I want to go back to my roots, like at the Morgans Hotel, where we created something with a limited budget, and limited materials, but with a strong point of view.”

Schrager, says Pushelberg, has always had his finger on the zeitgeist in a way that’s led to innovation before his peers. In this case, Schrager is channeling not just traveler’s fatigue with over-designed spaces and desire for a simpler, more relaxing environment, but the recession-inspired distaste for excess in all forms.

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This is not to say that the spaces aren’t luxe and trend-setting. There will be two pool areas ” one that’s formal and designed to be a ?scene,” and one that’s laid back and relaxed, with more natural vegetation. There will be a nightclub papered in silver, an homage to Andy Warhol’s Factory.

The lobby is small, its most significant feature a wall-mounted art piece by former pro surfer Herbie Fletcher made of 100 broken surfboards from the sport’s best pipeline surfers: Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Mick Fanning, and Nathan Fletcher, among them. By night, the lobby’s bookcase pivots to reveal a full-service bar.

The Marriott influence will be felt in one aspect only: while the designers wanted bare plank flooring, Mr. Marriott, says Pushelberg, insisted on carpeting on the floor. He got it.

As a side benefit, Schrager hopes his first hotel will help to revitalize the degraded environment of Waikiki beach, a wasteland of shopping malls and beer gardens, much as the Delano made South Beach chic again.

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About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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