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.