Gansevoort South is just one of several hot hotel projects to have been designed by interiors expert Andi Pepper, in partnership with architect and partner Stephen B Jacobs.
The pair first collaborated on the Gotham Hotel, New York (now The Peninsula) where she was appointed design director. Pepper set up her own interior design practice in 1982 and with a training in sculpture and painting is constantly in demand.
How were you inspired by the ‘celebrity status’ of South Beach?
We knew that South Beach was frequented by celebrities and considered this when we designed the hotel. We saw the Hotel Gansevoort in the New York City Meatpacking District become a celebrity icon and a venue for the fashion and film industries. Leonardo DiCaprio and Lindsay Lohan have stayed there on many occasions. An episode of the television show Rescue Me starring Denis Leary was shot in one of the corner suites. This is just a sampling of the many instances where the hotel was used to shoot scenes or used as a backdrop for ads, television and film such as the last scene in the Sex and the City movie. We were expecting many music business stars, as major music events occur in South Beach. The Art Basel show is there once a year, attracting the biggest names in the art world. The television industry has serious shows here now. In designing, I wanted a young, fun, sophisticated take on the interior, featuring colour, luxurious spaciousness, and a variety of types of experiences. The lobby furniture is modern to the point of being art pieces unto themselves. The whole hotel features custom art and photography that was styled while it was being shot. The guestroom photos tell a story of 1950s and 1960s Miami Beach. This hotel was designed for other artists to have fun in new surroundings for themselves. The shark tank in the lobby is another surprise to jolt the experience.
What’s is it like having so many luxury materials at your disposal?
Being able to work with luxury items is always exciting; it gives the space an authentic richness and quality. The light fixture in the Presidential Suite dining area is made out of Swarovski crystals, which cast a prism of light around the ceiling and the room and gives it a magical sparkle, which is a total surprise, as you don’t necessarily know about that when specifying the room. Real marble adds depth to the space and real stone has a feeling of coolness on a hot day. The Bisazza tiles are a swath of colour across the background and are so striking, due to the particular type of glazing. The luxury materials add a lasting gem quality to the design.
How have you used colour in your scheme for Gansevoort South?
Gansevoort South is all about colour. The lobby is a mix of colour to affect one’s emotions. There is a playful combination of tropical colours like magenta and orange and lime, tamed by neutrals of burnt sienna and white. All of this is anchored by a tone on tone plum carpet. The lobby is an exercise in colour combination. The guest rooms are one of two schemes. One is a Caribbean colour of magenta in spots, with a background of charcoal grey and white. The other is cerulean blue and ultramarine with the charcoal grey and white. The artwork is in black and white so that in each room, the carefully planned spots of color make a statement. It is in the glass, upholstery and paint of the same exact magenta or blue. It is clear that in every area, colour is one of the most important considerations, a real departure for South Beach. The next consideration is lighting that changes color to reflect the appropriate mood or event.
What, in your opinion, are the most outstanding aspects of the scheme?
The colours but also the furniture design and the carpet design, as it is all custom in pattern and color. The lighting is both functional and in use as a design element in and of itself. The shark tank is unusual, too.
What’s your idea of modern luxury?
It is design that is based on the comfort and convenience of the guest. This starts with the basic layout of the rooms, the bathrooms, which are functional and provide for every comfort and convenience. This is reflected in everything from the thread count of the duvet to the availability of a yoga mat within the room. Room service goes without saying. Big bathrooms have glass shelves to add extra counter space, and spectacular views also add to the luxury aspect. The guestrooms have a variety of seating, lighting, and comfort, and contains all technical equipment and technology.
What’s your next hotel project?
Currently, we are working on several new hotels in New York City, including a new Gansevoort on Park Avenue South and 29th Street, which will be bigger and more luxurious and have a 3-storey high lobby and a 2-storey rooftop club. It will be called the Gansevoort Park. We are also working on a new, 300-room Crowne Plaza on Park Avenue and 34th Street, which proves that even Flags have been influenced by the boutique movement and want a high design, hip look and hired us to achieve it. Our latest commission is a real departure. We are redesigning the Plaza Athenee in New York City and thus reinterpreting the classic French style. We are also working on two small art deco classics on Ocean Drive in South Beach – the Breakwater and the Edison – and are in the early stages of a new Gansevoort in Las Vegas.
What are the complexities of installing a humungous fish tank?
It’s always a challenge. The first consideration is the structural aspect: can the floor carry it? You have to then verify and provide adequate structural requirements to support the weight of the tank and the water. Ours is TK by TK and weighs TK. Second, you need a separate space nearby to house massive mechanical equipment, which also includes the associated piping. With this particular installation, we also had to coordinate the sectional installation of the tank into and between existing column structural bays. Other factors included providing hidden access to the tank for divers to perform maintenance duties, providing adequate enclosure of the water’s surface in order to prevent contamination from other MEP systems crossing above, and adequate mechanical systems to support the water filtration and cooling mechanisms.
This article was first published in X2 Magazine