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Travel + Leisure Magazine Hosts Fifth Annual Design Awards In Miami Beach

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February 2009

Women dressed in 1950s-style bathing suits greeted guests and disco balls hung from the ceiling inside the darkened, thumping nightclub of the newly renovated Fontainebleau Miami Beach as hotelier Andre Balazs accepted his award as Travel + Leisure magazine's 2009 design champion.

Fashion designer Calvin Klein and architect Adam D. Tihany were among the judges for the magazine's fifth annual design awards in categories including best bridge, cultural space, retail space and eco travel gadget.

Balazs and Nancy Novogrod, the magazine's editor-in-chief, were among those who attended the ceremony Wednesday night. Other winners spoke to The Associated Press in interviews.

Balazs, whose properties include The Raleigh hotel in Miami Beach and Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, Calif., said the key to good design is shaping the entire hotel experience. The secret to his success has been hard work, he said.

"It's the experience which is the focus of design," he said.

Novogrod said good design impacts the traveller and the awards raise the bar by inspiring projects.

"We are celebrating design for the public. It's kind of anti-elitism," she said.

A $30 trench coat from Norma Kamali's Wal-Mart collection was awarded best travel fashion.

"I think it's probably timely. It's more of what people need now. Maybe we don't need as much fashion as we need timeless style that people can create their own image with," she said.

"I think it's the right time and the right place and I am grateful to have been there."

The judges said the coat was elegant, classic and a timeless design, Tihany said, adding that "it just again shows you don't need to be expensive to be stylish and fun."


Delicatessen in New York City won for best restaurant. The idea was to mix the notion of an old diner and modern architecture and materials, said designer Anurag Nema of Nema Workshop.

From the street, the restaurant's large garage door-like windows and stainless-steel frame give it a modern feeling. A courtyard is connected by a glass cube.

"We wanted a 1940s feel, but done in a completely modern (design). We wanted to celebrate the tenement building," said Mark Thomas Amadei, the restaurant's co-owner.

"We wanted to create a space that was sophisticated design."

The privately and publicly funded TKTS booth in Manhattan's Times Square, designed by architect Nick Leahy, won for best public space.

"I was interested in designing something that reflected the spirit of the place," he said. "It's a very quiet subtle sophisticated design that reflects what's going on around it, which is loud and visually boisterous."

Mama Shelter, the Paris-based hotel designed by Philippe Starck, won for best large hotel.

Starck says much of the design had to do with budget, but says he's proud of the outcome and now that he has his prototype, he plans to refine it.

He said he wanted to make a very creative and intelligent place for people who couldn't spend a lot of money.

Tihany said he's an avid traveller and had visited about 80 per cent of the winning entries.

"I have actually seen these projects and went through them and sometimes even stayed in them," he said.

When he went to Jerusalem, he stood under the light-rail train bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava that won for best bridge.

"We were pretty much all unanimously enthusiastic about the entries," he said.
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