Philippe Starck Dreams of Argentina, Shuns Design Trends

El Bistro at the Philippe Starck-designed Faena Hotel+Universe in Buenos Aires. Reader, there are unicorns.

It was many years ago, in a post-ICFF fever dream, that we imagined a young Philippe Starck taking Buenos Aires by storm, embracing the city’s heat, noise, and dirt while warning residents of his “star quality.” Back then, we chalked it up to a bad mix of colorful cocktails and the Evita soundtrack, but it turns out, we were seeing the future. While Starck hasn’t taken to the Casa Rosada balcony (yet), he’s flying high and adored in Buenos Aires, where he designed the Faena Hotel+Universe, which opened in 2004. Part of former fashion designer Alan Faena‘s renaissance vision for the Puerto Madero neighborhood, the hotel began its life as a dockside warehouse. For Starck, the project is “the child of two very very good friends, who dreamed together on the beach, some years ago, about a good place for our friends,” he told Tablet Hotels in a recent interview. “And we dreamed about this idea of Universe—the name comes from Alan. Alan loves the name Universe, and that’s all. That means it’s just a dream. It’s just a dream of two persons.”

Dreamy, got it! So what does it look like? Think Gramercy Park Hotel through the lens of Ruven Afanador. “It’s purely the incarnation, the crystallization, of the spirit of Argentina,” said Starck. “That means it’s red like passion, there is gold, there is black, it’s very passionate, there is life and death, there is poetry everywhere, there is a lot of surrealistic things, it’s—you cannot even define a style, because Argentina is made of so many civilizations, so many cultures, so many languages.” Meanwhile, Starck reiterated his lack of interest in the design world (“It’s so boring”) and offered a slightly confusing take on trends. “I don’t care about design architecture and trends,” he said, after emphasizing his focus on how people will experience places. “If you see what I do it is never in a trend. If there is a trend, we are at the end of minimalism, but it’s still minimalism. I don’t make minimalism. I make always—my only style is freedom.”

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