T+L Design Awards 2011
A distinguished panel of judges names the best-designed hotels, restaurants, and more in this year's design awards.
“I love to walk in the rain, but I am not the umbrella type,” confessed Norma Kamali, as she made her case for a unique piece of rainwear: a white backpack with an attached hood, part of Puma’s Urban Mobility collection.
Kamali was one of the seven refreshingly opinionated jurors in the 2011 Travel + Leisure Design Awards, which each year recognize the best design in everything from transportation to travel gadgets.
Hotels and restaurants are, of course, important categories in this contest, and two forward-thinking cities—Abu Dhabi and Shanghai—had no shortage of entrants. While the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi had serious competition in the Best Hotel, Over-100-Rooms category, Asymptote Architecture’s surreal spectacle won out. The jury liked not only the hotel’s razzle-dazzle architecture, but also the appropriateness to its site—spanning a marina and a Formula 1 racetrack in the oil-rich Emirate, which is intent on using avant-garde architecture to establish itself as a player on the global stage.
And jurors found plenty to recognize right here in the U.S.A. They smiled on the collaboration between boutique hotelier Ian Schrager and mega hotelier Marriott International, which produced The Waikiki edition, the first in a series of resorts and hotels from the freshly minted hybrid brand. And when it came to the best-designed resort, the jury found a winner in Utah: the Amangiri. The resort is an ostensibly indigenous exercise in perfectly pitched Zen-like restraint and organic architecture—34 minimalist rooms that essentially cleanse the aesthetic palate by banishing the garish banalities of the kind of ho-hum luxury that this year struck no one as luxurious.
The jury also applauded, with considerable vigor, such civic-minded projects as the Barceló Temporary Market in Madrid, and the socially refreshing 100-square-foot Studio staterooms on NCL’s Norwegian Epic, custom-designed for the solo traveler on a budget.
And cars? After an initial infatuation with a $201,000 British roadster, complete with bespoke leather luggage perfectly fitted into the boot, the jury rolled up its collective sleeves and got down to business, ultimately giving the Best Car award to the Nissan Leaf.
While there were some surprises in this year’s design awards, the winner in travel technology was not one of them (hint: it’s an Apple product). Read on to see all the winners in the 2011 Travel + Leisure Design Awards.
T+L Jury 2011
Fashion designer Norma Kamali gave us high-tech fabrics and the sleeping-bag coat, the bathing suit for every figure and age, and a long look back at both the forties screen siren and the fifties pinup. She has recently been designing a line of affordable clothing for Walmart.
Fred Dust is a partner at Palo Alto, California–based IDEO, an interdisciplinary firm whose clients include everyone from Prada to the Social Security Administration.
German-born, London-based Nadja Swarovski is creative director for Swarovski Crystal, which was founded in 1895 by her great-great-grandfather. She has led the family business to introduce its crystal as a component for fashion, interior, and lighting design.
The founder of Henry Urbach Architecture, a New York City gallery of contemporary art and architecture, Henry Urbach is now the curator of architecture and design at SFMOMA.
As CEO and creative director of ABC Carpet and Home, Paulette Cole curates the always changing collection of home décor and furniture at the iconic New York City shop.
CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer is best known as the New York City restaurateur responsible for the Union Square Café, the Gramercy Tavern, the Modern, Eleven Madison Park, Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, and Maialino.
David Childs, chairman emeritus of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and chairman of the august Municipal Art Society of New York, is the man responsible for, among other things, the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle and the now-in-construction One World Trade Center (formerly known as the Freedom Tower).
Best Hotel (More Than 100 Rooms)Yas Hotel, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Designed by Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture, Asymptote Architecture
This 499-room hotel has brave-new-world bravado and future-is-now daring to spare: two 12-story steel-and-glass towers connected by a bridge, under which fantastically fast cars speed by during Formula One races. Most dramatically, Rashid and Couture draped the hotel, top down, with a sinuous, biomorphic “veil” that acts like an environmentally responsive second skin, by day reflecting the sky and the surroundings, by night lit by a spectacular LED system. Doubles from $220.From the Jury
“Yas pushes the boundaries of hotel design.” —Nadja Swarovski
Best Hotel (Fewer Than 100 Rooms)Pantone Hotel, Brussels
Designed by Michel Penneman (interiors) and Olivier Hannaert (exterior)
It’s a gimmick, but it works: this 61-room hotel features one distinctive Pantone color per floor, ranging from vivid to more subdued. The Pantone Hotel is built on contrasts; white walls provide a blank canvas for saturated colors to pop. At the shop are Pantone products of all sorts, from furniture to iPhone cases. Doubles from $120.From the Jury
“Pantone is clever, but not ‘cute,’ exactly what a small hotel should be.” —David Childs
Honorable Mention: Waterhouse at South Bund; Shanghai; designed by Neri & Hu Design and Research Office
Best ResortAmangiri, Canyon Point, Utah
Designed by Adrian Zecha, with architects Marwan Al-Sayed, Wendell Burnette, and Rick Joy
Set on a 600-acre swath of desert in a remote quarter of Utah just north of the Arizona border, Amangiri is pure escape and natural wonder. A 150-foot-high rock is the centerpiece of the resort’s design, and it’s there that the architects placed the main pavilion and the main swimming pool. Two wings, containing 34 guest rooms, branch out from this center, with a spa at the isolated southern end of the complex. To better blend in with the Entrada sandstone, the buildings are made with a concrete mix of local sand, cement, and aggregate that approximates the color and density of the surrounding geologic formations. Doubles from $850.
Honorable Mention: Waikiki Edition; Honolulu, Hawaii; designed by Yabu Pushelberg, with creative consultant Ian Schrager and in partnership with Marriott International
Best TransportationNorwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Epic Studios
Designed by Priestmangoode
Geared to younger, solo travelers, Norwegian Cruise Line’s 128 Studio staterooms on the new Norwegian Epic are crisp but cozy, with soft, padded-leather surrounds for the beds, everything-in-its-place efficiency, and one-way portholes that look onto the ship’s interior corridors, where the lighting changes relative to the time of day. Many of the rooms interconnect, so singles sailing with friends are easily accommodated, and the generously scaled Studio Lounge provides communal space exclusive to occupants of Studio staterooms. From $899, single occupancy, for a seven-day cruise.From the Jury
“Single cabins are an opportunity for this industry to blossom.” —Norma Kamali
Best Retail SpaceFreeCity Supershop Supermät, Los Angeles
Designed by Nina Garduno
T-shirts and hoodies, tepees and bicycles, and vintage vinyl and custom-mixed scents are among the offerings at FreeCity Supershop Supermät, in Hollywood, an inspired alternative to the slick and the polished shops along Rodeo Drive and Melrose Avenue. The store sells its eclectic, handmade products in a 3,000-square-foot space where 1960’s-era supergraphics add pow-wow punch to the ad hoc, low-tech aesthetic.
Honorable Mention: United Nude, Flagship Store; Shanghai; designed by Rem D Koolhaas
Best MuseumAshmolean Museum, Oxford, England
Designed by Rick Mather Architects
The monumental transformation of the 17th-century Ashmolean, the oldest public museum in the United Kingdom, is an exceedingly discreet intervention: the new building maintains an admirably low profile behind the Ashmolean’s beloved 19th-century Greek Revival façade. It is here that visitors still enter, before flowing into a new skylighted atrium. The museum’s collections of art and archaeology now have twice the display space, and two staircases ensure that natural light filters vertically through the museum, from the new café on the sixth floor to the ground level, via interconnecting, double-height galleries.From the Jury
“The new Ashmolean is modern, youthful, 21st-century—Yet sensitive to the past.” —Paulette Cole
Honorable Mention: Centre Pompidou-Metz; Metz, France; designed by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines
Best RestaurantTable No. 1, Shanghai
Designed by Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, Neri & Hu Design and Research Office
Table No. 1 is a pared-back, industrial-chic restaurant, stripped to its unadorned material essence. Situated in the base of the new 19-room Waterhouse at South Bund hotel, which was also designed by architects Neri and Hu, the restaurant is a natural wood, gray-brick, Cor-Ten steel, and exposed-cement space flooded with light. There are cinematic views of Shanghai’s Shiliupu Dock from the outdoor courtyard, oversize wooden communal tables in the main dining hall, and more conventional seating arrangements off to the side and in the private dining rooms. Dinner for two $150.From the Jury
“I love the way the communal tables blur the line between going out to eat and staying home.” —Danny Meyer
Honorable Mention: D’espresso; New York City; designed by Nemaworkshop
Best LuggageTumi Vapor Collection
Best CarNissan Leaf
Best Tech AccessoryJambox Portable Speaker by Jawbone
Best Travel ClothingPatagonia
M10 Jacket ($399) and ultralight down shirt (shown, $250); patagonia.com
Best Mixed-Use Venue11 11 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
Designed by Herzog & de Meuron
More than a parking lot, 11 11 Lincoln Road is an open-air raw-concrete structure with, depending on which floor you happen to be on, seven- to 34-foot ceilings, as well as numerous hip retail shops and restaurants. Its developer, Robert Wennett, refers to the place as a “parking sculpture.” He also built a one-block extension of the pedestrians-only Lincoln Road Mall designed by landscape architect Raymond Jungles and Herzog & de Meuron and installed a new piece of public art by Dan Graham called Morris’ in honor of the late Morris Lapidus, the much-maligned, much-loved architect we have to thank for such Miami Beach landmark hotels as the 1954 Fontainebleau and the 1956 Eden Roc.From the Jury
“11 11 Lincoln Road is so gutsy… beautifully dialed in.” —Henry Urbach
Honorable Mention: Barceló Temporary Market; Madrid; designed by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos
Best TechnologyApple iPad
$499–$829; apple.comFrom the Jury
“The iPad has been a revolutionary product for travel.” —Fred Dust
Best BagUrban Mobility Backpack, by Puma with Designer Hussein Chalayan
Best GadgetBowers & Wilkins P5 Noise-Isolating Headphones
Best GearSnow Peak Hozuki Lantern
Design Champion Micky Wolfson
Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson Jr. has been a collector since he was 12, but it wasn’t until 1986 that he opened what is now the Wolfsonian-FIU museum, in the heart of Miami Beach’s Art Deco District. This remarkable trove of curiosities, all from the period 1885 to 1945, explores the power of design in both political and aesthetic contexts and has become a destination for scholars of Modernism and the history of propaganda. There are decorative objects from all around the world, from a Fascist board game to King Farouk of Egypt’s matchbook collection, each powerful and provocative in its own way. “I mean to stimulate people to think,” Wolfson says; he also embarks on frequent trips to far-flung places, including Algeria and Easter Island. We honor this year’s Design Champion for his remarkable preservation efforts, for his deep engagement with history, and for his abiding, global curiosity.