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Directors’ cut: When Hollywood meets hospitality

Baz Luhrmann is the latest cinematic auteur to dabble in design, joining the likes of Hollywood greats David Lynch and Wes Anderson

Directors’ cut: When Hollywood meets hospitality
'Gone but not Forgotten', Damien Hirst. Credit: Faena Hotel Miami Beach

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Moderation isn’t a concept in Baz Luhrmann’s aesthetic wheelhouse. So it’s no surprise that Faena Hotel, the jewel in the crown of Miami’s $1.2 billion (£995m) Mid-Beach regeneration, is an orgiastic display of stylistic flamboyance and eye-popping luxury. Lurhmann and his Academy Award-winning production designer wife, Catherine Martin, were invited to spearhead the hotel’s design by Alan Faena, the self-styled ‘urban alchemist’ who breathed new life into the derelict docklands of Buenos Aires’ Puerto Madero district a decade ago.

The art deco influences of Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013) are written across the complex’s 169 rooms and suites, cocktail bar and Moulin Rouge-inflected cabaret theatre. Built in the shell of the Saxony hotel, which hosted Liz Taylor and Dean Martin, Hotel Faena opened in December 2016. Poolside, beyond the gilded columns and chandeliers, sits a golden mammoth skeleton — Damien Hirst’s ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ showcases the hotel’s artistic vision: an opulent revivification of Miami’s glamorous heyday.

Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Set the scene

Club Silencio
In David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2011), Club Silencio is a nightmarish theatre
of phony performers. Its namesake — in Paris’ second arrondissement — is something quite different. Opened in 2011, it’s Lynch’s answer to Andy Warhol’s The Factory: a members club for artists during the day and a wild public bar by night. Every detail, down to the bespoke 1950s-inspired furniture, was picked by Lynch.

Bar Luce
The kitschest kitchen in Milan opened in May 2015. Designed by Wes Anderson, Bar Luce echoes the modish sets of The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) with its seafoam green Formica tables, whimsical wallpaper and pinball machines. Set in the Fondazione Prada, it pays stylistic homage to the palatial Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade and Milanese cafes of the mid-20th century.

Happy hour

Hitchcock’s hangover cure
The director was partial to a drink. A favourite tipple was the gin-based White Lady, invented by barman Harry MacElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. For a creamy taste, add beaten egg white to gin, lemon juice and Cointreau.

Published in the March 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)