Having made his name with hip New York nightspots Cielo and Buddha Bar
, Stephane Dupoux
is about to take the hotel design world by storm with new projects from middle-of-the-road American towns, to the exclusive Hamptons, and the beaches of St Barts and Bali, writes Bethan Ryder.
is a name you'll be hearing a lot over the next few years.The New York-based designer and his
16-strong team have a mind-boggling array of hotel projects in development in such far flung locations as Miami, New York, Puerto Rica, St. Barts and Kuala Lumpur.To date he's
best known as a sculptor of hip restaurants, lounge spaces and bo"tes where the Beautiful People go to see and be seen.
It was Miami's South Beach where Dupoux
distinctive style, designing (for several clients) a string of exotic nocturnal lounge club concepts such as Pearl
, Opium, and cafe Tabac
that dazzled the jet-set party crowd.The suave Frenchman arrived there in 1990, by way of Switzerland - where he was a ski instructor - and London, where he perfected his English whilst working as a sales assistant in the bespoke shoe boutique Anello & Davide.
was lured to South Beach by an invitation to holiday with friends, "Once I arrived there I thought I'd found paradise," he
never studied design, instead he
took the hands-on approach, "I learnt the entire construction trade inside out; welding, carpentry, everything."He
started designing furniture and interior projects were a natural progression.In 1999 he
body of work to the American Society of Interior Designers
and was invited to take the final exam, which he
passed."I really lived the American Dream," he
Having conquered Miami, he
moved to New York in 2001, just after 9/11.
"The initial inspiration was a recording studio", says Dupoux
, "hence the padded walls.I wanted to instill the cosy feel of a mountain cabin, to counteract all the anxiety in the world."Dupoux
lined the interior with ultra-suede covered foam brown 'logs' interspersed with backlit Plexiglas tubes.Synchronised to blink to the beat, these parallel lines of light make the entire club pulsate with sound and light.The club remains a resounding success and ever since Dupoux
has been inundated with work.
career path sounds like a happy accident, hospitality runs in the blood.He was born in the south of France to a family of restaurateurs.
"We had around 20 local brasseries and cafes in train stations and beach clubs, so I learnt every single element of the operation; I've occupied most positions as a kid.You learn by observing, creativity comes from a constant sense of observation; we don't invent anything, we just recreate what we have seen, or understood."What's more the young Dupoux
own entrepreneurial streak, and an inclination for design, at the age of ten when he
fashioned wooden clothes pegs into miniature rocking chairs, "My grandmother would make the little cushions, filled with rosemary and lavender, from local fabrics and I would sell them on the beach," he
Perhaps its this idyllic outdoors Provenal childhood that informs Dupoux's work.He
cites "association of forms, colours and textures found in nature," as his
main influence, resulting in schemes displaying organic materials and forms, or a funky nature-goes-pop aesthetic."I often create an abstract version of what I've observed" he
says."I'm always trying to bring the outside into design.This is nothing new, Frank Lloyd Wright was doing it years ago.But by doing that you open up the barrier between inside and out, which creates the possibility of invasion and freedom and evokes a subliminal sense of tranquility and relaxation.That is why if I had to study design I would study psychology because the principle critic of a designer's work is in fact our subconscious."Dupoux's
design philosophy is grounded by astute business acumen.He
recently formed D-mand
(d-mand.com), a manufacturing company with factories in Vietnam, Canada and the Veneto region of Italy enabling him to control production of furniture designed by his
studio.Ditto a lighting company and an audio-visual company.
was looking to partner up with a designer to bring his
business concept of a chain of hotels for the mid-range market to life," explains Dupoux
.Mueller's aim was to position the hotels in secondary cities in the U.S. with rooms retailing at around $135."He
wanted to bring design to the masses basically and I needed to find a solution in terms of construction.At the time I was living in a loft in New York, and I realised that if we simulated a loft look, with a concrete shell and exposed pipes, brickwork and all that, then you didn't have any dry wall, or finishes, or paints and it would make construction cheaper."And so the NYLO concept (nylohotels.com) was born.Dupoux
and Mueller have since been joined by three other Principals, including Englishman Chris Jones, the company's senior vice president of development and construction.
Every hotel is a new build and the NYLO
team are currently developing a (top secret) progressive construction process that Dupoux
says will revolutionise hotel development.If it works it means each of the hotels, with an average of 175 rooms, can be erected in six months.The NYLO
team are ambitiously aiming for a total of 150 hotels across the U.S.
The first to open will be in Plano, Texas and the intention is to open another every two months.Other cities earmarked for NYLOs so far are Warwick in Rhode Island, Savannah in Georgia, Denver, Chicago and Raleigh in North Carolina.Dupoux
is reluctant to draw comparisons with existing chains, "There's nothing in that market like this, we'll be the first, but if you're asking who our competitors are according to price range, then probably the Marriott Courtyard or a Hilton Garden Inn."
It's because of his
track record in creating popular restaurant and bar projects that Dupoux feels confident he
can deliver when it comes to hotel design.
NYLO's loft-style rooms will be standard throughout all the properties and Dupoux
is keen to avoid the sterile look that he
believes characterises many hotel rooms.
The latter is a business conference hotel but don't expect anything dull and corporate from Dupoux
, "Imagine pin-striped sun loungers and things like this, we'll still try to make it fun."He
evidently maintains his
relaxed 'life's a beach' attitude by making canny choices when it comes to the locations of his
projects.Where else but the super chic Caribbean island of St Barts for another resort; "It's a new chain called Niilaiaa, which is Sanskrit for 'bearing the colour blue'.There are 52 rooms, a spa, restaurant and 12 townhouses on the beach.We're trying to make it as self-sufficient as possible with its own solar power and self-contained water and by using materials such as bamboo.The look will be kind of 'Caribbean Zen'."For the same clients, Dupoux
is designing a tiny 14-room boutique hotel on 16th Street in Manhattan, next to the Maritime Hotel, "It will be very modern and minimalist, we're opening up the space to make it feel less cluttered.It will have a very cool lounge bar too."
And finally ... he's
creating a new 7-star luxury hotel line called Milon Hotels for the Milon brothers, the owners of Miami's Opium Group
which encompasses late night lounges such as The Mansion
and Opium Garden."We have sites in Bali, in the Caribbean and Costa Rica, every room is going to be a luxurious tent lined with fur or lambskin and including four poster beds.They'll be comparable to Aman resorts, but it's very early stages and nothing will be completed until the end of 2008."
tendency to design hotels in exotic locations, Dupoux
says he'd be just as excited at renovating an old classic in a city.