How long did The Residences of Mandarin Oriental take to build?
We spent four and a half years of our lives working on this. You get intimately involved with projects of this magnitude, and it was so fast-tracked. It was just an amazing project, like being on a giant roller coaster.
What was your major design influence for the interiors?
I think it was the view. Plus, the building was an odd shape. We had to fit a lot of different types of floor plans within the shape. It was challenging.
The kitchen exemplifies the warm, contemporary design.
What were some of the concessions that you had to make because of the shape?
When you’re offering tenants a product, and it’s a luxury product, you have to make sure that all of the components are pretty much equal, even though it might be arranged differently, i.e., your bathroom finishes, basic sizes have to run the same; your kitchens might expand or contract, but the same type of system has to be made available for each tenant, so they feel that they’re buying a piece of that dream they saw at the showroom. And that’s a little bit of a challenge. It’s like fitting a lot of things into a very unusual box. It was so exciting, because it was the first nongaming property on the Strip of that caliber, and it has a distinctly modern, urban atmosphere with kind of a Zen feeling.
There is a overwhelming sense of calm when you walk in the hotel and the residential space …
That’s exactly the first thing I wanted was a haute couture meets Zen. I wanted to be able to provide the sensuality and the special kind of services that the Mandarin Oriental offers, but in the residential component, and I think that we accomplished that by designing a peaceful kind of oasis, a departure from everything else that’s in Vegas. I think we did it by using the natural palette, even though you have this bright red painting when you walk in, it still fits. Most contemporary design can sometimes be cold, hard-edged, and we avoided those obvious touchstones by surrounding it with softer textures and warm wood tones. The palette expresses a general quiet mood.
What are your favorite design nuances?
I love the little valet door at each entryway. A lot of people don’t even notice it, which is a good thing. For me, that’s the best thing. You could just order some groceries, or your dry cleaning, or have your suit pressed, or call the pharmacy, whatever, and it’s delivered there and you never have to talk to anybody. If you want to be in your pajamas, you wouldn’t have to get dressed to go to the door. Not like a traditional hotel or condo hotel. I love that about it.
Have you designed a residential component within a hotel before?
Yes, we have. The Fairmont in Vancouver, British Columbia, was a similar kind of contemporary, urban destination, right across from the convention center. And then, kind of on the polar opposite, with the same kind of complex issues, we worked on the Ritz-Carlton. That’s a different kind of property because the hotel maintains the condos. These are private residences, but they have the same services as a hotel.
What are some of the options available to owners?
We offer three packages, the Majestic Pearl, the Sovereign Jade and the Imperial Orchid. Those are the basic three packages. I have these pearl earrings, and they broke and they’re different shapes, and I thought, oh my God, those are the perfect palette: Majestic Pearl. Then the Sovereign Jade, I actually had gone to China for another project, but we saw some wonderful raw jade. Raw jade is so beautiful. There’s all different shades of jade—people probably don’t know that it comes in oyster, and amber and brown and greens. The idea of Sovereign Jade was a great name, and that was the inspiration. And orchids, you can find an orchid in my office every day of the week. That’s my favorite flower. I have them in my home, I have them in my office as you first come in, and I have them in my private office. And then in the penthouses, which are the upgraded packages, they have three different plans. They have Splendid Sunrise, Celestial Clouds and Royal Sunset, and how we came up with the names for those was basically we thought, here you are inside this incredible building, and you’re just up in the clouds.
What are you currently working on?
Right now we’re working on a brand new project in Tucson, Ariz. It’s a 525-room Sheraton with a convention center. We’re very happy to be involved in it because not a lot of new projects are being built. So that’s kind of exciting, and it’s exciting to bring to the city of Tucson. We also have a five-star resort in Abu Dhabi and some private high-end residential projects for clients.