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Concrete Thinking with Zaha Hadid

Design Diva Most of the top hotels are too froufrou for me. I can't cope with so many cushions! I always smell dust in them. Sometimes hotels that pretend to be very good have small rooms where you're always injuring yourself, banging into things, because they haven't thought about where the light switch should be, or they put the toilet right behind the door. A hotel is unfamiliar ground, so if you don't know that the floor is slippery or that the bath mat doesn't stay put, you wind up skating on it!

The main thing is to feel comfortable, whether you're staying one night or two weeks. Hotels never have enough closets, or surfaces where I can put out everything I need to get my hands on—that way, it's easy to get dressed or find a phone number very quickly. For me, there are a few essentials: enough closet space; a bathroom where you can put your things without splattering water all over them; no dust; and a very good bed with good sheets—and no starch!

Last year, I designed a full-scale model of a hotel room for the Milan Furniture Fair. It wasn't exactly the ideal hotel room, but it had a continuous surface: a seat seamlessly becomes a washbasin, and a bathtub—like an abstract landscape.

Girlhood Glamour I traveled a lot when I was growing up in Iraq. My father used to obsess about hotels. We stayed at amazing places like the George V, the Plaza Athénée, and the Negresco. We went to Beirut in the winter and Europe in the summer. Beirut was always hysterical, with the same body culture as in Rio. It also had fantastic hotels, such as the St. Georges. Great service is a natural phenomenon with the Lebanese. We also stayed at the famous Al Bustan in the mountains, with delicious food and top-notch service.

Latin Loves Rio is my favorite city on earth. The landscape is so spectacular—the view from any window is superb. And the people have a great sense of fun. Buenos Aires is like a vast European city, full of complexity. Every quarter is different—it's the way Madrid or Paris could have been—and there's an incredible mix of Latin music and European culture.

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