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The NoMad Hotel

Our interview with the designers of New York's new boutique hotel

by Yale Breslin in Travel on 26 April 2012

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You know a neighborhood has made it in New York when it receives its own abbreviated nickname. The latest addition to the map is NoMad—short for North of Madison Square Park—which is also fittingly the name of Andrew Zobler's newest lifestyle hotel. Zobler, who is also responsible for the Ace Hotel across the street, was initially drawn to the distinct architecture along that section of Broadway. While the Ace set the neighborhood in a thrilling new direction, Zobler set his sights on the preserved facade of the NoMad to create something entirely new. "The challenge from an overall perspective was that we didn’t want to do anything that was duplicative of The Ace—we wanted to compliment it," he says. "That was the impetus for going with something that felt more luxury, more European and more romantic.” Using the Beaux-Arts style facade of the newly opened NoMad Hotel as inspiration for the interior, Zobler tapped French architect Jacques Garcia to complete his vision.

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"What we really wanted was to explore Jacques at his roots, so we found a photograph of an apartment that he lived in when he was in his 20s in Paris, and you can see in the image the very early stages of the Garcia style—but much more bohemian and eclectic," explains Zobler. "It was that image that we wanted to achieve—his very early work." Garcia, who is behind Paris' sleek Hotel Costes, sourced many of the NoMad furnishings directly from France, including a 200-year-old-fireplace.

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Also brought over from France is Parisian boutique Kitsuné, now located within the NoMad thanks to Zobler's young business partner Tanner Campbell. Says Zobler, "He identified the Kitsuné folks as having this sort of style that fit the hotel. We wanted to find people who were really talented but were also idiosyncratic."

From the inside out, the hotel boasts a distinctive feeling that mixes European hospitality with downtown NYC details. We checked in with Garcia to learn a little more about his design process for the NoMad, from the opulently dark hotel bar to the bright, spacious bedrooms.

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What drew you to tackle the NoMad Hotel project?

The fact that a lot of Americans (especially New Yorkers) are fascinated by the Hotel Costes in Paris encouraged me in a way to accept the challenge. With this Parisian success, from my experience, most New Yorkers who visited Paris visited the Hotel Costes property at least once—either for dinner or to say overnight. I wanted to find the same craze in New York for the NoMad Hotel—which, in my opinion, has both a French and American spirit.

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What about the original space did you find inspiring?

The building is extraordinary. The fact that it was a historical building was a blessing for me. I was also very impressed by the views of the city from the rooms. Also, the volume of the ground floor enabled us to build the central veranda, which recalls the Hotel Costes courtyard.

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What was your main goal when defining the interior aesthetic of the NoMad Hotel? What do you want every guest to experience with their stay?

My goal for public spaces in a general way is often the same. I had to go through the 1980s during which the public spaces were all white or grey and the lights were so white and cruel that the women looked like they were 20 years older. This didn't please men, and therefore, men wouldn't be interested in seducing women under such conditions. With the NoMad Hotel, I tried to do the exact opposite. This philosophy will be the case for all my future creations because these public spaces are made for encounters—and not to be satisfied from a specific aesthetic.

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You've defined luxury as knowledge. So, what defines the luxury component of The NoMad?

The luxury component of the NoMad is the simplicity in the sophistication with a feeling of eternity.

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