T+L Design Awards 2010
Design and architecture shape every facet of the travel experience, from hotels and museums to train stations, restaurants, and luggage.
Some of the same truisms about travel can be said about design. A change of place may impart new vigor to the mind and the senses, but so too does a fit-in-your-palm mobile computer, a futuristic spa experience, or an ergonomic first-class airplane suite. Design impacts travel in ways small and large—shaping everything from on-the-go fashion to city skylines.
Travel + Leisure’s annual Design Awards seek out and celebrate both the practical and the beautiful under travel’s great global umbrella. This year’s jury included fashion designer and television host Isaac Mizrahi, design icon Terence Conran, and Amanda Burden, the ambitious director of New York City’s Department of City Planning. Together with five other esteemed jurors, they honed in on the year’s most compelling designs, in a variety of travel-specific categories. And there were a few surprises.
Take Motel 6—yes, Motel 6—an American symbol of the affordable road trip long gone to seed: Priestmangoode, a London-based architecture firm, threw out the old and restructured the motel chain’s overall design. Nondescript roadside pit stops have been transformed into chic accommodations with sleek white and wood interiors and bright teal, orange, or blue wall accents. And while this year’s Best Large Hotel winner’s makeover is smart, hip, and of the moment, Motel 6’s prices remain dated; travelers can still enjoy comfortable accommodations, a flat-screen television, and a cup of coffee for a mere $29 a night.
When it comes to travel products, functionality and design go hand in hand. In the Best Luggage category, the Rimowa Salsa Deluxe Multiwheel won for its maneuverability—a solid exterior and four wheels that turn 360 degrees. Cheerful and inexpensive, Nixon’s brightly colored and affordable Time Teller P Watches took the prize for Best Watch. And for the first time, Travel + Leisure had a Best Car category; the Ford Fusion Hybrid won for, among other elements, its eco-conscience design.
Still, contemporary design doesn’t always mean new. A number of other 2010 Design Award winners, including the stunning Neues Museum in Berlin (Best Museum), have emerged from years of painstaking preservation. In October 2009, the Neues completed a decade-long $255 million rebuild (the museum was bombed during World War II). The ruins’ tattered frescoes, eroded columns, and even bullet-pocked walls were meticulously restored and integrated into opulent, airy, and thoroughly modern exhibition rooms.
Even simple architecture can transform travelers’ understanding of their surroundings. This year’s Best Restaurant winner, Nomiya, is a 22-ton glass pop-up dining destination atop the 1937 Le Palais de Tokyo museum in Paris. Open until July 2010, its 60-foot glass rectangle, partially covered with an etched metal skin, has unparalleled panoramic views of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine, allowing guests to see the classic Parisian landscape from a new vantage point, which is exactly what smart design should do—change the way we experience the world.
T+L Jury 2010
As the director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Valerie Steele has overseen more than 20 exhibitions in the past 10 years, including “Gothic: Dark Glamour.”
Isaac Mizrahi is the creative director for Liz Claiborne New York. He also designs a women’s collection under his own label and is the host of The Fashion Show on Bravo.
Since founding his namesake Los Angeles–based interior design firm in 1990, Michael Smith has published two books and introduced a line of furniture. He recently completed work on the White House’s residential quarters for the Obama family.
Founder of the Design Museum in London and of the Conran Shops, and current provost of the Royal College of Art, Terence Conran is an internationally renowned restaurateur, retailer, designer, and author.
Jean-Michel Gathy is principal designer of Denniston International Architects & Planners, based in Kuala Lumpur. His recent projects include the Setai South Beach and the One&Only Reethi-Rah, in the Maldives.
Amanda Burden is the director of the New York City Department of City Planning and chair of the City Planning Commission. She is a proponent of ambitious architecture, and one of the forces behind the recent opening of the High Line park.
Rafael Viñoly is the founder of Rafael Viñoly Architects, a New York City–based firm. His recent projects include the Vdara Hot
Design Champion Adrian Zecha
Adrian Zecha is a visionary: since launching Amanresorts some 20 years ago, he has created not just a hotel brand but a philosophy, a worldview. Aman stands for a kind of lush and luxurious simplicity—small resort hotels that are the opposite of grandiose, yet set in the grandest of far-flung places, from Phuket and Morocco to Beijing and New Delhi. There are now 24 of them, and while discreet Asian minimalism is the aesthetic DNA, Aman properties have always respected and reflected their surroundings, with careful craftsmanship, local materials, and attention to detail. More than that, Zecha’s hotels are simply beautiful. We honor this year’s Design Champion for the style, drama, and romance he has brought to the luxury travel experience.
Best ResortLa Mamounia
It’s not easy to remake a classic hotel, especially one as beloved as La Mamounia. But apart from a few notable glitches (poor in-room lighting, for example, caused in part by the devilishly complicated controls), designer Jacques Garcia has succeeded mightily. The property has been completely restored and modernized, a three-year project that included cleaning and repairing countless mosaics, moldings, and paintings and adding new furniture, fabrics, and woodwork, much of it made by local artisans. Doubles from $755.From the Jury:
“La Mamounia fits beautifully into its location—the hotel has a kind of Arabian Nights feel to it.” —Michael Smith
Best Terminal Liège-Guillemins High-Speed Railway Station
Liège, Belgium. Designed by Santiago Calatrava
More than any other working architect, Santiago Calatrava has made the sheer drama of geometry and engineering his trademark, and his new high-speed rail station is no exception. Spanning 518 feet under a sloping, bubble-like canopy, the structure glows from within, and appears to have emerged from the surrounding urban fabric like an emblem of the future that was always meant to be here. sncb.be.From the Jury:
“If a train station can be a destination, Liège-Guillemins would be one you’d want to see.” —Valerie Steele
Best SpaMondrian in South Beach
Miami Beach. Designed by Marcel Wanders
A work of pure spectacle, Marcel Wanders’s design of the 4,000-square-foot Agua spa at the Mondrian combines outsize baroque gestures and all manner of decorative filigree with a monochromatic, white-on-white-on-chrome palette. The result is stunning—and very shimmery too, like a science-fiction movie set in oh-so-glam Miami Beach, which is exactly the idea. Doubles from $395.From the Jury:
“The spa at the Mondrian in South Beach is a surprisingly whimsical environment, it’s fun, happy, and bright.” —Holly Hotchner
Best MuseumNeues Museum
Berlin. David Chipperfield, Architect
The newly renovated Neues Museum in Berlin incorporates traces of the building’s history in brilliantly understated fashion—architect David Chipperfield’s serene galleries inhabit and expand a grand 19th-century building so badly damaged during World War II that East German authorities more or less abandoned the place. Some 60 years later, the museum’s frescoes, columns, and brickwork have been given new life—solemn backdrops for an extraordinary collection of antiquities.From the Jury:
“In Berlin, David Chipperfield has done a remarkable job of bringing architectural innovation into a historic space.” —Amanda Burden
Paris. Designed by Laurent and Pascal Grasso
There is a subversive element of wit about the temporary Nomiya restaurant—a small glass box installed until July 2010 on the roof of the Palais de Tokyo museum in Paris. The dining room, which seats 12, offers remarkable views of the city and nearby Eiffel Tower; it also recasts the restaurant experience as a kind of interactive architectural happening, a meditation on permanence, transience, and style. Dinner for two $228.From the Jury:
“At Nomiya, there’s a feeling of spaciousness because the walls are transparent—you have the whole of Paris as your restaurant.” —Terence Conran
Best Small HotelJuvet Landscape Hotel
Gudbrandsjuvet, Norway. Designed by Jensen & Skodvin Architects
A series of glass-and-wood boxes scattered across a mountainside in northwestern Norway, the Juvet hotel looks to be the result of some sort of high-modern architectural airdrop maneuver. Each stand-alone guest room has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking beautiful, rugged terrain and nothing else. The effect: total immersion in nature. Doubles from $430.From the Jury:
“Juvet is a hotel in which the landscape is not a view but the theme of place.” —Rafael Viñoly
Best Transportation Swiss International Air Lines First-Class Suite
Designed by Priestmangoode
The new first-class suites on Swiss are state of the art: London-based design firm Priestmangoode has divided the cabin into clear sections, each seat with its own large-screen TV, foldaway desk, and lie-flat bed; sliding oak panels ensure privacy for sleeping, and all the materials and workmanship are careful, quiet, and perfectly Swiss. 877/359-7947; swiss.com.
Best Large Hotel Motel 6
Various locations, U.S.A. Designed by Priestmangoode
For the makeover of Motel 6—a 1960’s American icon of mobility and affordability—Priestmangoode has created a room that maximizes space, utility, and style. The flat-screen TV is built into a wall unit that also includes a laptop and iPod dock, as well as storage for clothes and luggage; platform beds, bright color on the walls, and lots of rounded-off corners and beveled edges make for a fresh, pop-modern look. 800/466-8356; motel6.com.
Best Cultural SpaceZa-Koenji
Tokyo. Designed by Toyo Ito & Associates
Set in a residential downtown-Tokyo neighborhood, Toyo Ito’s design of the new Za-Koenji public theater is unabashedly theatrical. The building is mysterious and all purple-black, its tentlike roof and walls punctuated by several hundred porthole-style windows. Inside are three small theaters and numerous practice rooms, as well as a lobby and other public spaces lit up by the playful round windows and inset lights.
Best Retail SpaceDerek Lam
New York City. Designed by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/sanaa
Combining effortlessly unencumbered minimalism with the subtle beauty of a polished concrete floor and curving acrylic walls, the Derek Lam boutique in downtown New York City is a signature sanaa design. The clothes are stars here, set off by the gallery-like space’s hyper-meticulous, luxurious ambience—and yet there is surprising warmth, too, a feeling of lightness, fun, and sparkle that’s a new addition to the Japanese duo’s repertoire.From the Jury:
“For Derek Lam, sanaa has produced the feeling of a large, flowing space within what is actually a small shop.” —Jean-Michel Gathy
Best Watch Nixon Time Teller P Watch in Solids and Multicolors
$55; nixonnow.comFrom the Jury:
“These Nixon watches are inexpensive and fun, like candy. I love them!” —Isaac Mizrahi
Best Travel Gadget Nokia N900 Mobile Computer
Best Luggage Rimowa Salsa Deluxe Multiwheel
Best Travel Accessory MZ Wallace Kate Bag
Best Travel Fashion Ecotech Solar Jacket by Zegna Sport
Best Car Ford Fusion Hybrid