Inspired by New York

I saw the title of Bart Berkey’s recent HOTELS blog, “Inspired in Ireland,” and before I read it (although I have since done so), the first thought that occurred to me was that someone from Ireland might no longer see the miracles and inspirations in their own country. Maybe it takes somebody from abroad, for whom everything is new and exciting, to see it with fresh eyes in the way that Bart did in Ireland.

For my wife and me, New York City is where we find professional inspiration, not only from the design-led hotels we stay in, but perhaps more from the “urban jungle” itself, the fashion styles and the people of the city — although as I understand it, European design is considered hip in the United States.

On this occasion it was the Meatpacking District we returned to, with its many new restaurants, boutiques and an “arts and crafts” market to explore. This area continues to evolve as a fashionable destination — even the grande dame of fashion, Diane von Fürstenberg, has located her new headquarters in this area. We noticed these stores and eateries reflected a recent design zeitgeist, a concept consisting of rough brick or stone, rust, graffiti and old objects that in a different context would be considered trash. These rustic features are combined with elegant design details such as a sophisticated lighting concept (Aria) and an exotic or ethnic theme (the restaurant Spice Market). The amalgamation of raggedness and elegance is very chic — perhaps it is an urban interpretation of the “natural roughness” seen in European spa design.

However, my impression is that New York’s tough urban aesthetic is starting to soften a little. Previously I had always felt that designers in New York could use any color as long as it was black. During this recent visit I still saw a lot of black ceilings, but I also noticed white and the natural tones of distressed wood combined with a variety of decorative elements.

And while there, my wife and I were so taken with a type of white horizontal “New York-style” tiles we saw that we decided to put them in our new kitchen, so I suppose that since this trend is in line with our own tastes, we could say that our “European design” has been influenced by New York, too!