Sunday, July 1, 2007

Bleak House

Balcony Toys, Orlando

As I mentioned in an earlier post, large resort hotels try to emulate some era of long-gone glory in order to impress their guests. They believe, quite falsely, that what we really want in the way of furnishings and ambiance is a place that resembles a down-market Louis XIVth brothel. For some reason they feel able to contend that it's the popular taste and defines, in the minds of their target audience, what luxury should be.

Don't know if you saw one of the early series of "The Apprentice" with Donald Trump? (I think they had something similar in the UK with Alan Sugar, a businessman about as far from Trump as it's possible to get and still be in the same galaxy!) Anyway, as the prize for winning the task one week, a bunch of the Trump wannabes got invited round to his NY apartment for dinner with he and his missus. Surprise, surprise, the interior decor looked exactly like Versailles would have done if a) they had taken all the original furnishings and then stuffed them into a place one quarter the size and b) had cross-bred the original French interior decorator with Hugh Heffner and reassigned him to Trump Towers. It was unspeakably over-the-top hideous. And yet, and yet. Without exception, the toadying acolytes on the show were breathless with excitement and admiration for what they deemed his remarkable taste in all things decorative. Crystal chandeliers, dipped-in-gold everything, large gilded mirrors, marble and onyx table tops, French china ... well, you get the picture.

If all that weren't bad enough when executed inside a hotel, they install all this stuff within a building that outside looks like it was designed by Stalin, for Stalin, and on a "grumpy day" at that.

Around the world both architecture and the decorative arts have moved on, and a long way at that. Alas, these trends have somehow by-passed the likes of Marriott, Ritz Carlton and the rest almost completely, leaving them instead mired between a past they can't get right and a future they cannot seem to grasp at all.

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