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Big Interview18 / CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD / ISSUE 65Schrager's new design for livingTHE MUCH COPIED HOTEL DESIGNER IAN SCHRAGER INTENDS TO RAMP UP HIS NEW EDITION WHILE KEEPING CLOSE CONTROL OF HIS MAGIC RECIPEounder of US-based Morgans Hotel Group, Ian Schrager, says: "Everything you see in hotels today - whether it's white beds or no patterned carpets - we did that. "When somebody has a good idea, everybody runs to do it. This time, I want to ramp up quickly, so all my ideas don't get taken again." You can't blame Schrager for feeling ripped off. He's the most copied hotelier ever. He invented the design hotel. Without him, there would be no WORDS JOHN ARLIDGE, PAUL COLSTON PICTURES COURTESY OF STREAMRight, top: Waikiki view. Below: the new Edition's lobby in the Honolulu propertylobby 'scene', no go-to bars and restaurants, no bespoke scents, no hot staff or cool nightclubs, no urban resorts and no baffling taps in the bathrooms. Today, you find these everywhere. Hyatt, Starwood, InterContinental and Hilton, and just about every small operator from Sao Paolo to Sidcup have all 'borrowed' his ideas and in the process have killed what he created. "Whenever I hear the phrase 'design hotel' these days, I cringe," Schrager frowns. "The idea has been so copied, it's perverted. Every hotelier jumped on the bandwagon even though they didn't understand a thing about it. It's become all about getting lots of expensive finishes and flourishes, even though there is no vision behind it. I hate it."Well, now it's time not just to get mad - but to get even. In the biggest, boldest risk of his career, the man who has spent a lifetime creating small but perfectly formed properties - the Royalton in New York, the Delano in Miami, and St Martin's Lane and the Sanderson in London - has signed a £2bn joint venture with the world's biggest hotel chain, Marriott, to create a fashionable but affordable hotel chain. "I want to move on to do something that appeals to a much larger audience on a much larger scale than I've ever attempted before," he says. Chain hotels represented everything Schrager was rebelling against when he created the design hotel two decades ago but he insists the big-name copycats have created an opportunity for a second act in American hotel life. "What's happening in the hotel industry now is what happened 30-40 years ago. All the hotels are beginning to look monotonously similar - over-designed. That's exactly what gave me my opportunity to do something different 25 years ago when my partner Steve Rubell and I started out. Then, all hotels were dully similar - under-designed. We created something very different, very exciting and the market flocked to us. It's time to do it again."The 'it' he's talking about is Edition. That's the name of the new brand he has created with J W 'Bill' F