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Mayer Rus at the opening of ICON


On the left (left to right): Lauren Weiner, Benedikt Taschen, Terence Riley, and Samuel Keller. On the right: Philippe Starck and Jorge Perez.

Let's do the time warp—again. On Friday night, a few thousand people turned out for the opening of ICON, a new Miami condo development designed by Philippe Starck and built by developer-slash-collector Jorge Perez. Guests toured the building's lobby, lounge, pool and spa, but, alas, the apartments were not available for inspection. A real estate agent informed me—this is not a joke—that the units come in four conceptual varieties: Culture, Classic, Nature, and Minimal.

In terms of design, ICON is a pleasant pastiche of Starck’s greatest hits—all perfectly chic, but stale as last week's challah. There were the gauzy white curtains that first appeared at the Delano a decade ago; the gargantuan flower pots from the Mondrian in Los Angeles; and the old-timey crystal chandeliers from the Hudson Hotel in New York. If Starck's aesthetic vocabulary was familiar, so, too, was his PR schtick. “I will say nothing because there is nothing to say, because I know nothing,” Starck told the assembled design enthusiasts, evidently attempting to wrap his extraordinary egomania in a cloak of humility.

Efforts to apply a high-minded gloss to this real-estate spectacle came up a bit short. Terence Riley, MoMA’s chief curator of architecture and design, was meant to host an onstage conversation with Starck to enlighten the crowd about the vision behind the “apartment-building-as-boutique-hotel” concept. Mercifully, someone—Riley? Starck? Starck's publicist?—must have realized that this kind of a dialogue was not particularly appropriate in the context of such a swinging soiree, because it never happened. Not to be cheated out of the art-world cachet that his esteemed VIPs provided, Perez did announce that Riley and architect Richard Meier were on hand, while Starck slipped out early, leaving his guests to enjoy stir-fry and the booming sounds of a Japanese drum band. For some reason, a troupe of little people/dwarfs wearing novelty hats circulated among the crowd. Perhaps they were part of a tableaux vivant re-creating Starck's plastic gnome stools? Anything is possible. If pretension and bombast were breakfast cereals, Philippe Starck would be General Mills.

On the left: The ICON building in Miami Beach. On the right: Culture, Classic, Nature, or Minimal?