The man who invented cool, Ian Schrager can even turn a last-minute cocktail party into the hottest invite in town. That’s what happened during the apex of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, as Schrager (whose Studio 54 is still cited as the best nightclub in history) gathered Miami’s top Realtors, writers and socialites to view his latest hotel/condo project: EDITION Miami Beach.
It’s been over 17 years since Schrager changed Miami’s hotel scene with the debut of the Delano Hotel. Before that, accommodations in Miami were tiny, dull, moldy, kitschy or too corporate. But in 1995, Schrager turned the notion of what a hotel should be on its head with his collaboration with Philippe Starck resulting in mismatched furniture, an oversized chessboard, moody red pool table and white billowy curtains serving as walls. It was fluid and fanciful—and it worked.
Now we roll our eyes when we see a teensy rocking chair juxtaposed next to a gigantic throne chair in a hotel or restaurant. But, trust me, it was revolutionary back in the day, and put Miami, Schrager and Starck on the map as legitimately “hip.” (And to the people who have no original thoughts on design, I guess copying from an innovator is better than nothing!)
While Schrager developed what he began at the Delano across the country—and the world—with brands like the Mondrian, SkyBar, Sanderson and Morgan’s, he has since left that aesthetic behind. There’s a grownup sensibility about his more recent projects, still with a chic, playful vibe, but decidedly more mature and elegant.
I noticed this sophistication within seconds of walking into the model suite of The Residences at The Miami Beach EDITION, with its bleached teak floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, custom-cast concrete bathtubs and Bulthaup kitchens. While the hotel/condo is currently under construction, this real-life floor plan is serving as a sales tool for Realtors hawking the John Pawson-designed units. The feeling is simple, clean and graceful—from the lines to the décor.
EDITION, the oceanfront hotel, will be a romantic throwback to Old Florida, according to Schrager. There will be banyan trees in front of the property (formerly the Seville). Schrager likens it to “a street scene in Coconut Grove.” It will also have the only lobby in Miami Beach with direct views of the ocean.
On the foodie front, one of my favorite chefs of all time was preparing hors d’oeuvres: Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Interestingly, Jean-Georges was not in Miami for SBWFF. He was here because he will be handling all of the edibles at EDITION—from a Shake Shack-type of experience to fine dining. There will also be a gourmet market concept with different counters selling snacks from around the world (think a global Eately). Additionally, JG will even prepare private dinners for the high rollers who buy apartments at The Residences, which is certainly a tasty deal closer.
For two hours, Ian Schrager worked the room, greeting the new and old friends he has made in Miami over the years—including moi. His memory is impeccable and it was charming to spend time with someone who has a sense of humor and spirit about his legacy. There is no bombastic attitude here.
Yes, Schrager has an appreciation of history and understands that the Delano ushered in a “new wave” in Miami. He hopes to do this once more with EDITION, from the design and amenities to the partnerships (Jean-Georges and John Pawson) and nightlife. For the latter, he promises an “updated” version of Studio 54 with “serious, sweaty dancing,” a bowling alley and ice skating rink reinterpreted with lights and lasers (as if Cirque du Soleil had designed it). Plus, an outdoor movie theater on the sand, two pools and lush foliage. “It will be magical,” he noted, “and you won’t ever want to leave.”
At an age where he could certainly retire, Schrager is taking on this ambitious, new project for several reasons: He was looking for an apartment in Miami for his family and couldn’t find anything currently on the market that he liked. The solution? To build his own fantasy condo. Plus, he sees Miami as a destination just exploding with international growth. “It’s a 24-hour gateway city,” he remarked.
EDITION is at least a year away from opening its doors. That withstanding, already, half of the 26 condos have been sold in six weeks. Douglas Elliman is brokering the deals for The Residences. The entire EDITION brand is a partnership between Schrager and Marriott International. The first EDITION opened in Istanbul last year, and other upcoming locations span London, New York City and Bangkok.
Personally, I am so excited to usher in this next Schrager era to Miami Beach. I know it will be exciting for our community on an international scale. Plus, I can’t wait to try every one of Jean-George’s restaurant concepts and to go ice-skating in the middle of summer. Does this mean bell-bottoms and leg warmers might be making a comeback?