How to be more Philippe Starck
Ever loved a hotel so much you wanted to live in it? We ask the iconic French designer for tips on how to replicate a life in the sky
You only have to ask Philippe Starck “How are you?” to get a glimpse of one the world’s zaniest creative minds. “I am absolutely perfect,” says the legendary designer when we speak from his latest Paris endeavour, TOO Hôtel. “I am a sort of angel with invisible wings. I am on the top of a mountain, far away from stupid conversations, boring dinners, ridiculous exhibitions.”
There are no mountains in the French capital (though we’d wager there are plenty of definitely-not-boring dinners and exhibitions). But on the 27th floor of the skyrise TOO, jutting upwards from the industrial, 13th arrondissement, you’re certainly up in the clouds. Opened above a modern office block in October 2022, this hotel occupies the top ten floors of the third-tallest skyscraper in Paris (after the Eiffel and Montparnasse towers). The concrete structure also lays claim to the city’s highest rooftop bar, a novelty in the sea of ornate, cream-coloured Haussmann low-rises. Sipping a Starck-recommended boulevardier (a negroni mixed with Scotch rather than gin) and gazing across the glittering urban nightscape and nearby warehouses, you could be in Brooklyn or Tokyo.
But, if you’re anything like Starck, your focus will be on what’s inside rather than outside of the floor-to-ceiling windows. “It’s more interesting to speak with other humans than to watch the view,” he insists. “You know the view is there, but you have to forget it. Don’t you have anybody to seduce?”
TOO Hôtel’s whimsical interior design certainly sets the scene for seduction. Here’s how to recreate the look, with a little inspiration from the creative master himself.
TOO Hôtel’s modest ground-floor lobby’s concrete walls still show construction marks, while leather-clad benches with bronze studs occupy the 26th-floor restaurant. “We use almost no paint,” says Starck. “Most of the colour comes from natural materials: wood, fur, leather, concrete, copper. For philosophical reasons, I never cover natural materials because I never lie. What you see is what you get.” This indigenous reclaimed teak-framed mirror is on point.
Throughout the hotel’s 139 rooms, rich textiles contrast with hard-edged concrete, metal and wood, adding in terracotta, yellow and peach hues. “Everything in life is contrast,” says Starck. “When you have two contrasting materials, you can fly. Here, everything is not in the regular harmony of colours or material, but in its own special harmony.” This honey-toned velvet fringed cushion from Oliver Bonas is a simple way to combat harsher colours or textures.
TOO Hôtel’s 27th-floor rooftop lounge, TOO TacTac Skybar has a splendour that matches the skyline. It’s styled like an American speakeasy-cum-colonial house, with rattan chairs, soft leather cushions and ceramic urns. In the restaurant one level down, the chairs get a little more unusual. “There are some very strange details,” says Starck. “Why is there fur on the back of the chair? Why? There is a reason: why not?” Opt for a classy touchpoint with this Nagoya armchair by Bodhi.
You might feel you’ve left Earth entirely here. “This hotel is a structure in the air,” says Starck. “We are not at the top of a building – we are in a hot air balloon. I’ve worked with Nasa and experienced the beauty of life without gravity on the simulators in Houston. You can fly everywhere. And the sky is just the sky, whether it’s in Paris, New York, Tokyo.” Contrast futuristic details (such as Dirk van der Kooij’s Fresnel L light) with the sky outside to give a sense of floating.
Rich, embroidered textiles in warm colours – such as this Sanderson dhalia and rosehip floral number – bring comfort and luxury to a cool, concrete space. Layering your rugs can even create a sense of weightlessness. “On the floor in the restaurant there is some carpet,” says Starck. “And under this regular carpet is the same carpet, but lighter. It’s like a magic carpet flying in the sun.”
“To be comfortable, you need a warm palette,” says Starck. “Deep red, brown, beige, a bit of emerald green. And light that’s warm like a candle.” At TOO Hôtel (as in all his creative projects), Starck plays with light – both natural and filtered – to create different moods, whether comfortable, sensual or otherworldly. Set off any luscious textures with a warm-coloured wall lamp in neutral colours and untreated metals.