Ian Schrager's PUBLIC Display of Affection


Hotel legend Ian Schrager announced yesterday that his newly-formed PUBLIC brand will be teaming up with residential developers Durst Fetner Residential to launch a new hotel/rental apartment hybrid on 855 Sixth Avenue. Called PUBLIC New York, the 250-plus key New York hotel will be Mr. Schrager’s second site in his PUBLIC brand since unveiling PUBLIC Chicago in September. The building will also feature 60,000 square feet of retail and 315 rental apartments. Fresh from a recent trip to Chicago, Mr. Schrager spoke with The Commercial Observer yesterday about the design of PUBLIC New York, the status of the Clock Tower building, and his love for all things Apple (AAPL) and Trader Joe’s.

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ian schrager1 Ian Schrager's PUBLIC Display of Affection
Ian Schrager shares Steve Jobs' obsession with detail.


The Commercial Observer: Will the style of PUBLIC New York be similar to how PUBLIC Chicago was designed?

Ian Schrager: No. It will be the same attitude, the same approach. But it will be different. That’s because it’s New York, and New York is different from Chicago and really we have fun redoing each room (in a) new, original style, but with the same attitude, the same approach.

Who is handling the design of the hotel?

Right now we’re responsible for laying out the hotel, obviously, and all the finishes and a lot of it will be done by my in-house design staff.

But in all likelihood, we’ll also be working with John Pawson, who is an English architect.

And what can you tell us about The Clock Tower project? When will that become an Edition hotel?

Because they  (Marriot International, the owners of the Clock Tower, and with whom Mr. Schrager is a partner) are a public company, I don’t really like to talk about it very much. It’s really their show.

I am thinking that The Dakota, which was built around the same time – I think there was twenty year’s difference. I think The Clock Tower was built in 1909 and The Dakota was built in the 1880s, and so I am very much inspired and would use the Dakota as a point of departure.

Not Gothic, like the outside architecture of the Dakota, but more the inside, with the rich woods, and the proportions, and the way that all works on the inside. We would use that as a point of departure for The Clock Tower.

And what would you say would be the point of departure for PUBLIC New York?

It’s really been very much inspired by Apple and Steve Jobs and the way… every aspect of (the design) is important. The screw in the back of the computer is as important as the screw in the front, and it’s really bared down and simple and pure. When you look at it, everybody gets it, everybody understands it. That basic approach is a real influence on me. Also, the service that they offer in the Apple Stores. When you go in there, you really get the service you need to get in and get out really quickly.

They have that Genius Bar, and you don’t have to wait on line to pay. When I saw that, I asked myself ‘what kind of service is that? Is that luxury service?’ I came away saying ‘no, it’s just the service you need.’ So that was a real inspiration for me and kind of the great service we want to provide.

Also Trader Joe’s, the supermarket was a big inspiration, because it’s a combination of elite, sophisticated shoppers (standing) right alongside bargain hunters, all sharing the same experience shopping in the same store and cutting across all demographics. Both of those two had a tremendous impact on me for this brand.