Wednesday, June 1, 2011


This concludes the Parsons Paris course The Real Thing: Luxury & Authenticity in Design.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

21st Century Luxury: Leisure Time

by Andrea Fascinetto

I believe that leisure time will become a future luxury because of the rate that society keeps incrementing work hours and demands in general. Today, in order to succeed in one's field, one must put in more hours than what is asked for. In United States a work week is a minimum of 40 hours (contrary to France, which is only 30 hrs) but most people put in at least 10 hours of over time, if not more. In the fashion world, trends and styles come and go so quickly that it's six months ahead, at the very least. Generally speaking, everyone is thinking ahead to stay ahead, and avoid any problems or create a supply for the overwhelming demand of society. Basically, we are forgoing today for tomorrow, and simply living today to create something for future. By living like this, we no longer have time to take a stroll, or read a book, or even spend time with family and friends. As we, as a society, continue to evolve we will continue to ask and expect more from everything and everyone, and someone will have to put in the hours to make it available. It's hard to imagine that we will have time for anything in the future at the rate we're going.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

21st Century Luxury: Handwriting

by Alexandra Lloyd

Handwriting, particularly copperplate, is already dying out as we send more and more communications verbally with our telephones or as digital messages. Less and less people know cursive, and the handwritten invitation or card is already being seen as something of a lucury due to the extra time that it takes to produce (with time being the ultimate luxury). It is likely that by the end of the century, handwriting will be a skill that very few people have, and with rarity comes exclusivity and an association with luxury. Above is a handwritten Chanel Joaillerie invitation.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Case Study: M/Y RoMa

-->The 62m (203ft) motor yacht RoMa was launched in May 2009, the second “new build” of the recently founded shipyard Viareggio SuperYachts. Listed for sale by Camper & Nicholson for the asking price of 59,500,000 euros, her worth is inestimable to the average person. An example of conspicuous consumption if there ever was one, the superyacht is a luxury experience. At once a lifestyle and an object - a social experience and a physical one.
In Yachts International’s review of the design, the reporter highlights something that fits in to two of Catry's classifications of rarity: technical and natural rarity, fitting into George Hughes' idea that reporters try “to impress the reader of the super luxury character of the yacht by itemizing many of its facilities.”[1] She outlines the process that the ‘Newcruise’ interior design team went through to panel the walls:
The designers started with blocks of Afyon miele marble, which were sliced, labeled and photographed. The NEWCRUISE team then placed each slice strategically to match colors or patterns in guest bathrooms, a time-consuming process that required limitless patience from all, including Technical Project Manager Stefan Zucker of the owners’ team. But the effort resulted in an amazing product with it’s own signature.
The journalist chooses to emphasise the quality of rarity in the interiors; it was again Bernard Catry who suggested that luxury branding sought to link luxury to exclusivity by using the illusionary device that is the idea of “rarity”, saying, “luxury appeal is inevitably diluted by increased market share.” An intense ‘concentration’ is placed in areas that guests will most likely ignore; this intense attention to detail is characteristic of luxury industries - see David Usborne’s profiling of successful hotel tycoon André Balazs-
“He is obsessive about every detail. A bathroom wall must be the right size to take the tiles he has chosen, so none of them has to be cut. That would spoil everything.”

One could extract from this that luxury evolves from a place in which we satisfy more than our basic needs, or even more complex needs- we satisfy superfluous whims. As Mark Tungate replied to me in my interview with him,
“A boat is a waste of both time and money - and thus the ultimate luxury.”
Another of Catry’s categorizations of rarity was present upon the launch of RoMa; Techno- based Rarity. With her steel hull and aluminum superstructure, RoMa built to meet the strictest environmental standards; this was formally acknowledged with an “ES” certification by ABS (Environmental Safety), the first ever issued by ABS for a private yacht. Andrea Mardi of Yacht design says

"Elegance these days comes as part and parcel of a high-tech, green package."
However, what can be seen as some by high tech may not always be so; Boat designer Michael Schutte noted in my interview with him that what the media might push as an innovation can sometimes be simply poor design.

We are all familiar with the “concepts” we see in the magazines every month. Thank feck you can’t go to sea on a jpg, because lots and lots of this stuff is total b********…. There is a good reason why an ocean-going vessel looks the way it does, and that is not because the rest of us are idiots. It’s because we have actually been to sea and know the difference. Bottom line is that fitness for purpose for me defines authenticity in any design. Style by itself is useless. You can get that from any hairdresser. Look at a bic lighter; it is economical to manufacture (and has been in the billions), perfect for its job, and completely without ornament. This is the quintessential authentic design for me.
For Schutte, the idea of conspicuous consumption, fundamental to the “consumption” of superyachts both as an idea and a purchased product, leads to a degradation in the authenticity of design, simply because owner’s do not buy for themselves, but rather as a display of social, cultural and economic capital. If an owner has no interest in the design integrity, then shortcuts will be made in the design process. The client has a huge influence on the outcome of the boat. Luxury in a boat is also a capacity for discretion that is almost impossible to match for the world’s super-rich; where once this could be a double-edged sword, with disconnection from the world, sat-coms mean that owners and crew can now stay as connected as they like anywhere in the world with the wifi, satellite phones, satellite television and navigational software/digital charts. A superyacht offers a very intense customer experience relationship. From obvious preferences, such as food requirements, liquor preferences meal times and itinerary, to the most minor details, the boat adapts itself to the clients; even charter guests who only stay aboard for a week or two. This is achieved through liaisons with charter brokers, secretaries and networks of contacts (in much the same way that concierges at the Ritz Carlton hotel chains will exchange information). In this way, a superyacht mirrors the management of a luxury hotel; Luca Allegri, the manager of the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, states during his interview with Mark Tungate:
“All this [referring to physical perfection and pricing] is basic management. At the ultra-luxury level, it’s the human dimension that makes the real difference.”

[1] G. Hughes, “The self, signification and the superyacht.” Leisure Studies 12, no. 4, (October 1993): 253

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

21st Century Luxury: VENICE

Venice is a city in northern Italy known both for tourism and for industry. Slowly and gradually, Venice is sinking. The city sits on marshy land that has lowered by about 11 inches. In recent years, Venice's high water has resulted in an average of 100 floods a year. The increasing sea level is largely a consequence of climate change. The city is known for tourism but I believe that this luxurious city will become excusive because there is a limited amount of time until it will not exist anymore.

21st Century Luxury: Space

The limitedness of space, a future luxury by Octavia Mettenheimer

As the world population rises constantly and exponentially will do so in the future, space will become more and more a luxury. Already now the world is far too overpopulated resulting in all kind of shortages. We managed to flee the scarceness of space so far by building skyscrapers, enlarging the cities, increasing the transportation speed etc. However, there will be a limit to it. Especially the major cities are showing bizarre adaptations to this absolute basic need of life, to have room to live. The prices insanely high, so that no normal-wage person can afford a nice living. The best but most disturbing examples are the cage people of Hong Kong. Because the real estate prices and rents are so high, there is no other possibility for them then literally renting a cage. A 2sqm big box, that is their home. They share what seems to us still as small one-person room, with about 8 people, so that they can afford a housing at all.

Of course Hong Kong is an extreme example however, with increasing urbanization we can expect to see more of those horrible living conditions due to the limitedness of space. To afford an amount of space that can preserve your dignity will become a real luxury in the future. You can be assured that by then only the very rich people will be able to afford a room for each of their children left aside something like a living room or a real kitchen.

21st Century Luxury: Natural Fibers

After the 90s there was a back lash towards synthetic fabrics, and a return to natural fibers such as linen, silk and cashmere, by the mid noughties natural fibers had infiltrated the market with cashmere jumpers appearing in high street stores like M&S and muji, natural fibers have become a sign of quality and luxury, but in the past few years there has been a return by some poignant labels to synthetic fabrics, with names like Giorgio Armani releasing statements before fashion shows about his open use and encouragement of modern synthetics. even designers like Lanvin have in the past used pure synthetics in order to have new and bold fabrics, however the use of natural fibers on the high street, have over stretched the amount the world can produce, meaning that fibers such as chasmere have jumped in price, leading to more and more “mixed fibers” on the market place. Even the increase in natural disasters threw global warming have effected the available stock, such as the devastating floods in pakistan which has impacted the cotton producing industry, and forcing the market price higher, synthetics have now reached a point where there quality and feel make them appropriate for both high and low end areas of the market, whilst the limit in supply of natural fibers threw bad farming and the natural limit on production will make fibers like cotton, wool, cashmere and silk a natural rarity and luxury in the future

an over farmed cashmere farm

21st Century Luxury: A Day Made of Glass


A vision for future luxury... everything tactile. Organizing your daily schedule with a few touches in your bathroom by using your mirror, or even reading a classic novel on a whisper thing piece of glass... What do you think? Is it a luxury?

21st Century Luxury: Enjoying your Job

by Sara Martin

This is Google. And this may be the face of the new workplace. As more and more creative jobs arise, and more and more existing jobs require creativity in the face of an ever growing 'immaterial' industry, the workplace as we know it ceases to function. Workers require more and more autonomy and collaborative opportunities to be successful. 'Large boards are available just about everywhere because 'ideas don't always come when seated in the office' says one of Googles managers.' If technology keeps growing, an infiltrating more and more, it seems this could become protocol. Sir Ken Robinson notes that you can't even persuade those engaging in creative jobs with economy. (We've seen this before with those who resist 'big business' in this class. ie: Louboutin, etc) The focus is in line with luxury in many ways, focusing on quality, and experience, rather than industrial efficiency. I like the idea that your job could be the luxury, instead of what you purchase with the money you make from your job. It's a nice spin, and I think it is a seriously realistic luxury in the 21st.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

21st Century Luxury: "Design Yourself"

In the future, luxury would be considered exclusive designs. Conspicuous consumption influences the appearance of more individualized production. In 20 years time such a thing as personal design would be widely used. The recent example is the individualized design of Louis Vitton bags and wallets, where clients can put personal initials and even choose the colors on the bag. I think this area is not yet developed, although has a lots of potential and as new technology and internet are growing rapidly, the “designing yourself” will be very actual in 20 years time.

One of the possibilities would be something like “Design yourself ” club. Membership Clients can design for Louis Vitton or any other luxury brand by using login in the special Internet program; that can be accessible only for members. The client will get a service- such as advice from one of the designers or team of designers and consulters working only for “Designing yourself “ members. The service will help to understand what the collection inspiration is.

The program will have a wide choice of fabrics, textures, shapes and finishing. However, the elements and range of colors would be limited, according to what colors are used for the Real collection. Element and colors would change every season.

“Design yourself “ would be based on old kids game, when child dresses a paper doll. However it would be more complicated, a there are no ready garments given and “Designer” needs to add the given materials together. By putting all those separate elements, member can create a garment of his own design.

Then the creation is published in the Internet, and accessible to everyone. If the outfit gets voted for, design will be produced and the name of the “designer” will be sign on the tag. There can be a special “Design yourself” section in the shop.

I think this exclusive design would be very interesting and popular, as everyone can announce what he or she wishes to wear. It also will help designers to understand how people would want to look.

21st Century Luxury: Privacy

The significant development and increasing importance of social networking encourages the free-flow of information and blurs the limit between the private and public domain. Websites such as Facebook allow for the online publication of millions of profiles, and stores every single bit of information that one has ever uploaded on their account. Even if a user ‘deletes’ an entry, it is permanently stored in the Website’s databases. Consequently, the user loses control over their very own, private information, as whatever is uploaded online becomes the Website’s property. It follows that social networking will gradually acquire our information like one acquires a commodity. Moreover, the complex legal structures and privacy settings cause users to unknowingly operate and publish their information. Thus, as one becomes increasingly aware of these issues, it is likely that we will strive to protect and preserve our privacy.

By: Flora Gn.

21st Century Luxury: Aircruise- first floating hotel

The Aircruise, is a conceptual work created by the British innovation company Semourpowell. It is not only a very special luxury hotel of the future but also a transportation means. In otherwords, it is a floating hotel. Powered by natural energy, it brings passengers from point A to B. Although its slower than an airplane, with a 37 hours flight from London to New-York, the Aircruise offers a different manner of traveling. Because of the floating hotel's gigantic size and its policy to transport only a handful passengers, the Aircruise offers the luxury goods from the future to its guests: time and space. With a rapidly increasing world population, space is already rare today, especially in cities like Tokyo or Paris. Time, on the other hand is also becoming more and more a luxury: although we have worked less and less over the last century, we still feel more and more stressed. The Aircruise creates therefore a new approach to the luxurious environment. This may sound very futuristic but the Aircruise could already be realized by the year 2015 thanks to all the technical specifications which have been made. Maybe not to far from now, the Aircruise will be the most luxurious example of traveling the earth friendly way.

Palden MacGamwell

21st Century Luxury: Natural Rarity

By Gayatri Mittal

I came across this example while looking at an ongoing vintage market near Ecole Militaire. One of the sellers had a very beautiful statue of Krishna made in Ivory. The best quality Ivory comes from the trunk of very old elephants and for that so many elephants are killed. Use of Ivory is now illegal, in an attempt to protect elephants.

But still the practice continues. For example all piano keys were ivory but now some are plastic. Plastic is already been rejected by the masses. Ivory is desired not just for statues but anything else because of it high value and qualities. By killing the animals for our desires we are endangering the species. Objects made out of materials found in nature will remain a luxury. With globalization and mass production their has been exploitation at every level creating natural rarity.

21st Century Luxury: Natural resources; water by Minji Kang

As natural resources become more precious, they will become luxury.
For example in a cafe, water will be more expensive than other drinks as in some countries it is already costs more than coke. Besides that, as the world becomes a global society, in cafe there will be more choices for water. For example, they might sell different kinds of water from different origins. As the technology develops they also might serve waters that has functions(like vitamin water). Also indoor sports(like wii) will be more popular, and water sports like swimming will be considered as a luxurious thing.

21st Century Luxury : Nature

By Stefanie Fagerberg

In our day and age of rapid urbanization and exponential growth in terms of population, technological prowess and architectural constructions, our natural world is becoming more and more damaged by modernity. Nature and fresh unpolluted air are increasingly scarce and smaller percentages of the world have access to them. Moreover, as the wealthiest tend to concentrate in urban areas, access to genuine nature and a possibility of escape from modernity will become a luxury in the 21st century. It will cost money and time to be able to bring your children to experience authentic nature and not simply bring them to a small park in the middle of concrete jungles. Clean oxygen too will become luxurious. More people than ever will start to take better care of their bodies and search for cleansing and organic foods, drinks and soon, air. In this case, something that was for so long abundant and taken for granted will now become luxurious due to its newfound scarcity.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Authenticity v. The Thinker

‘The Thinker’ by Auguste Rodin was cast 21 times, and can be found scattered across the globe. Though there is a massive influx of people who insist on viewing the version showcased in the Musée Rodin, here in Paris. The sculpture, because of its physical attributes, gives the air of great debate, pain, and tribulation. One can feel the weight of the human condition, and man’s contemplation. Originally ‘The Thinker’ was part of a door that Rodin made for a commission for Les Arts Décoratifs. The Thinker was originally supposed to be Dante reflecting on his great poem, which the door depicted. When the sculpture was ‘blown up’ (Rodin often made large casts of smaller works) he decided the work stood alone, and the commission for Les Arts Décoratifs had fallen through, so he began casting ‘Thinkers’ and sending them around the world. The first cast is speculated to have been shipped to the U.S., so the version sitting at Musée Rodin, is likely not even the original. What this indicates is that authenticity is measured by much more than being the first of something. ‘The Thinker’ in Paris sits in the middle of the history of Rodin’s work, and because the sculptures are all the same, the history must be important to people. People may ‘project’ themselves into the past, daydreaming about what it may have felt like when Rodin was creating his works, or walking around Paris. Each sculpture is authentic in its own right, but the version sitting in Paris offers something other than just authenticity (materially speaking), it offers the closest experience to Rodin himself. ‘The Thinkers’ because of their material continuity will all carry the same message, the one intended by Rodin, which is one of contemplation and weighty deliberation. This message to me, defines the authenticity of the piece. If it loses the message, it loses its authenticity. Therefore the version of ‘The Thinker’ in Paris aligns itself not only with authenticity, but with history. I will keep history and authenticity separate, because ‘The Thinker’ in Paris, is not the original, and people often assume it is, thus it loses some form of continuity which keeps it for me, from being able to claim complete authenticity. The point in the end, is that authenticity is not as mechanically placeable as some may think. There can be different kinds of authenticity; authenticity that posits itself within a conceptual realm, requiring that the sentiment of the artist be upheld, and authenticity that posits itself within history/production, requiring that the process taken to achieve something is congruent with the one claimed, or that the artifact has in fact been through the process claimed.

Sara Martin

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Luxury Design, Environments

Case Study: Le Meurice
By: Flora Gn

Parisian luxury hotels, renowned for their savoir-faire and characteristic decor, rate as some of the most beautiful environments in the world. The Meurice, a five start Hotel located on the prestigious rue de Rivoli, and an element of the elite Parisian Palaces, certainly seems to aim for ultimate luxury. By focusing on the entrance of Le Meurice in terms of its history, decor and overall impression, this essay analyzes why the Meurice qualifies as such. It is important to note that, when referring to “entrances”, I speak of the Meurice’s lobby, Dali restaurant and reception.

Hotel Le Meurice

The Meurice is located seconds away from the Place de la Concorde, and stands opposite to the Jardin des Tuileries. It belongs to the prestigious Dorchester collection, and rates as one of the few palaces of Paris. Its history begins when, in the early sixteenth century, upper-class English travelers were seeking for a place to rest between their travels from the UK to Paris. In 1771 Charles-Augustin Meurice, a local Frenchman, decided to establish a hotel, where the Englishmen could reside before arranging their coach-ride to Paris the following day. In 1817, Charles-Augustin Meurice’s son, named Louis-Augustin Meurice, decided to construct a similar hotel in Paris. It was not until 1835 that it was transferred to its current location, Rue de Rivoli. The intention was to establish a hotel that would incorporate English taste and savoir-faire to a French style and environment. The hotel became so imbued with the English culture that it was occasionally referred to as the “City of London”. In 1905, the hotel underwent its first extensive renovation, which was greatly inspired by Louis XVI styles and aesthetics. Today, this aesthetic still prevails, but since its recent renovation in 2007, it has been merged with a more contemporary approach and design.

Philippe Starck, Artistic Collaboration

The French designer, Philippe Starck, was asked to orchestrate this renovation. He created an environment that reflected the hotel’s history and contemporary design. Salvador Dali, who was one of the hotel’s regular customers, inspired Starck to design an entrance as elegantly eccentric as the surrealist master.

The Lobby

Upon entering the hotel’s lobby, one discovers a space covered in a lustrous marble alternating between various tones of blacks, greys and whites. The ceiling is perched well above the ground, and bares beautiful carvings. The walls, like the ceiling, are composed of stone of an off-white tone. Such delicate decoration already suggests the aesthetic richness of the space, thus reflecting a luxurious element of adornment. On the right-hand side stands a tall, gold-framed mirror covered in a large sheet of ice. It is covered in small engravings with people’s names, drawings etc. Every night, this layer is melted and frozen again for the next morning, so that the hotel’s clientele can start engraving new elements into the mirror. Apparently, it also symbolizes the hotel because the work is in constant renewal, all whilst maintaining the same base and values. It seems quite usual for a luxury hotel to have this type of ‘interactive’ environment, and, in this way, the Meurice distinguishes itself from other luxury hotels.

The Reception

After observing the lobby, I was directed towards reception, and was immediately drawn to a skewed painting placarded to the ceiling, right above the front desk. It depicted an arm, elegantly floating across the canvas. This painting is actually a close up of a portrait of the “Comtesse Regnault de Saint-Jean d’Angely”, painted by the artist François Gérard in 1798. This work was particularly impressive when standing at the far end of the 10.3 meter front desk, as its unusual angle structured the room in an anachronistic manner, further enabling the viewer to understand that they are not visiting any ordinary environment, but that of a luxurious, genuinely unique hotel.

The Dali

The Dali also underwent important changes during the renovation in 2007. Initially, the restaurant had a very classical feel, and perhaps felt more valued for its historic, antique style than for its value in terms of luxury and the experience this provides. Consequently, Starck modernized this space by merging antiquity, Dali and modernity to create a space rich in culture and aesthetics.

The Quality of Service

The quality of service is also characteristic of the Meurice’s luxurious status. When I asked one of the receptionists what she felt characterized the Meurice’s entrance, she replied: “It is a superb mix of Art, beauty and level of excellence in our savoir-faire”.

Cultural Importance

In an essay entitled “The Role of Culture in the Service Evaluation Process”, Anna S. Mattila, the author, analyzes the relationship between culture, environment and appreciation of service. Mattila explains that Western cultures are: “more likely than their Asian counterparts to rely on the tangible cues from the physical environment”. Thus, it is clear that a French hotel will strongly rely on the quality of their physical environment to qualify for luxury status, and this is precisely what the Meurice reaches by investing so much financial importance into the aesthetic quality of the environment constituting their entrance.

In conclusion, it seems that the Entrance of the Meurice, with its careful attention to decor, unique artistic collaborations, excellent quality of service and remarkable sense of extravagance successfully functions to create a true, authentic experience of luxury. What distinguishes this establishment from its competitors is also its ability to maintain the value of its historical essence by openly and atypically expressing it throughout the aesthetics of the entrance, which immediately sets the tone for a very exclusive, unique atmosphere, enabling it to be the real “Real Thing”.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

21st Century Luxury: Space Tourism

This week Virgin Galactic opened its spacecraft to BBC. See the full story with a video unveiling the crafts here. Tickets will start at $150,000 a trip, limiting it to a select group of initial travelers. This will likely become a 21st century luxury, a form of extravagant but wasteful expenditure, for the experience alone, instead of actually going from one destination to another like conventional travel. But the extravagance of space travel may also generate new types of space tourism fashion and media coverage, creating a larger public interest.

21st Century Luxury: Youth

People of every era aim to look and feel their youngest. But people are now living longer than previous centuries. The luxury market should see an increase in older consumers, but not simply in older consumers but older consumers who seek out health and beauty products and services. This should mean a shift in luxury beauty which aims to young clients, now also serving seniors. Spas and fitness services will also expand to include these clients seeking youthful vitality at any cost.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Luxury, Authenticity & Environments

Above and below, Tina Barney, portraits at home

There are a number of different arguments that could be made about what makes an environment luxurious but also authentic. Environments are almost always designed by an architect, so there is, in most cases, the hand of a designer. Also, even basic environments need reproduced forms, multiple bricks for example. So it is not by one hand or by one material that environments achieve authenticity but also through history and legend, which are built through time and myth. Artisan aspects and personalization can be used strategically to build myth.

Home environments demonstrate obvious authenticity. Above, Tina Barney's photos of luxury homes reveal personal qualities and the additional aspect of luxury, the service provided. Having staff, a doorman, or security make a luxury environment a more personal place that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Below the contemporary take on luxurious, authentic environments by Todd Selby.

Above and below, the Carlyle in New York. Many hotels invite artists to personalize their spaces and build the myth of authenticity. In these cases the famous Madeline book illustrator, Ludwig Bemelmans has decorated the hotel bar walls and Vertès decorated the cafe.

Above and below are cases in which the actual structure is a natural and permanent part of the location that gives an undeniable authenticity. The Ice Hotel in Sweden and the Anatolian caves of Turkey both offer specific luxury and authentic environments.

Above the Fregate Island spa, among Conde Nast's top of 2011, offers location specific luxury. Below Gulfstream private jets can be customized to designer standards to bring more unique, personal authenticity.

Above yacht environments at the Abu Dabi yacht show and the popular Pershing yacht. Yachts can also be made more authentic through customization such as left by artist Jeff Koons and right by Wally Hermes.

As we consider specific examples of luxurious, authentic environments, Monte Carlo stands out as 19th century branded city. The art nouveau aesthetic is seamless from the Hotel de Paris to the Cafe de Paris to the casino, all intended to attract French clients whose right to gamble had been outlawed. The result is an entire city with a luxurious, artisan feel that works like a resort, giving visitors a sense of getting away from the urban.

Cafe de Paris & Casino de Monte Carlo

Below Monte Carlo SBM is the luxury company of the country that has extended the name "Monte Carlo" to other cities, extending the "fantasy" of authenticity.

Above The Ritz-Carlton group of hotels throughout the world is driven by the motto "ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen." The service emphasis makes the hotel stand out from other corporate hotels that offer the same quality. Below the perks of the Ritz Club for regular visitors include cookies and candies throughout the hotel, tea and snack times and personalized concierge.

Above The Mark in New York re-launched the older property with a new French design and promotions by French illustrator Delhomme, to add a contrived sense of European-historic authenticity. Below the jet set destinations map includes some of the global luxe spots. Places shift with fashions, with something new each season. Recent trends? Tel Aviv.

Above Andre Balazs' target locations on coastal America - Los Angeles, New York and Miami. Below Balazs seen as a influential personality and signature authenticity for the hotels. New York magazine called him the "tastemaker for tastemakers."

Above Balazas emerged at a time when the "boutique hotel" meant Ian Schrager and Philippe Starck. Balazs introduced something different and gave consumers two price points. With a creative team he tapped into the local significance of the architecture and stripped down the structures, resurrecting historic glory. Because he capitalized on existing legends, he was immediately embraced by the establishment and the fashion set. The hotels became not only luxurious and authentic but also offered clients a scene they would not find in other more corporate luxury hotels. Below the Chateau as backdrop for Vogue US May 2011.

Above from the Vogue shoot and below for the film Somewhere. The Chateau is loaded with legends as Belushi died here, Jim Morrison almost did, Led Zepplin rode motorcycles through the lobby, and Hunter S. Thompson and Howard Hughes lived here.

Above and below the Chateau lobby and gardens are for a small number of guests that create a sense of exclusivity and insider value.

Above and below Balazs created a hotel across the street from the Chateau at half the price. The Standard is his entry level hotel with a more modern spartan aesthetic. The logo was based on Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha's famous Standard Station work.

Above the second Standard in Los Angeles is downtown. Below on the left the higher priced Chateau versus the Standard offers more historic and authentic rooms but comparable beds and linens.

Above and below Balazs repeats his two price point strategy. On the higher end, The Mercer gives patrons an ideal SoHo location with a sociable library lobby and gourmet cafe in the basement, The Mercer Kitchen. Also downtown is the lower priced Standard New York which is a high rise with more uniform rooms. The Standard is affordable and attracts a younger lower end luxe crowd. Balazs uses the hotel's bar to build aura.

Below left the higher price Mercer uses similar lines to the lower priced Standard. Only the quality of location and scenes differ and create the difference in prices.

Above Balazs in Miami honors the original structure of The Raleigh, highlighting its Cuban and art deco influences in the lobby and pool below.

Across town, Balasz again offers the lower priced option at the Standard Miami below. But this lower priced, more modern and simplistic space, offers many spa features not at the Raleigh.

Below the Raleigh left is twice the price of the Standard right. But here with similar linens, the Raleigh again has a better location while the Standard offers private courtyards.

Finally below, speculations that Balazs will soon expand to St. Barths and JFK Airport.