Glenn Pushelberg and George Yabu, founders of design firm Yabu Pushelberg, tell us about designing for boutique hotel Moxy Times Square in New York City, and what really makes their partnership work

What are some considerations that you have when designing a hotel?
Glenn Pushelberg (GP) As designers, our aim is to create environments that make people pause and have a sensory experience. To achieve that, understanding the guests’ state of mind is key to designing the right space for them. The subtleties of connected details and sympathetic use of materials and motifs throughout help to connect spaces and weave a narrative.

As designers, our aim is to create environments that make people pause and have a sensory experience

George Yabu (GY) Understanding the holistic story is an important notion that informs how we build, design and decorate environments. We ask ourselves how guests would move between spaces throughout the property, interact with their surroundings, socialise and relax to create a holistic vision. The fun part is bringing this vision to life and experiencing these moments ourselves.

See also: 10 Instagram-Worthy Luxury Hotel Suites In Singapore

What were the biggest challenges you faced while working on the Moxy properties?
GP 
When we started the project, it was positioned as a micro hotel for millennials, a strategy which worked for the brand in Europe. The challenge was to reinvent this concept for the North American market—it was fun to imagine a new type of hotel room designed for people with a certain nomadic mindset.

GY 
We took inspiration from early Puritan design—the utilitarian simplicity of this aesthetic and the notion of ‘urban camping’. We looked for ways to put a modern twist to make our design current, youthful and portable. The interesting part that came from this vision was creating a host of adaptable furnishings to make the most of the compact space, including custom-made chairs and tables designed to fold away and hang from wooden wall pegs.

What keeps you inspired?
GP 
Paul Smith wrote a book called You Can Find Inspiration in Everything—(And If You Can’t, Look Again) and we truly believe in that. It can come from a person, looking at a leaf, a book cover or smelling a scent; there are more ideas than places to put them.

What do you think makes your partnership work?
GP It’s a partnership that is always morphing and changing—it’s never static. The world is changing fast and as partners we are nimble and adapt to change just as fast. This quality serves us well and it’s a reason why we’ve been successful for so long. We have a never-ending source of curiosity that drives us to explore ideas in our own world and beyond our own world.

GY We challenge each other and appreciate what we both bring to the party. It’s taken a long time to get there and yes, we’re at the 39-year mark but it has proven the strength of our partnership and where it can take us. Most importantly, we’ve had a good time doing it!

See also: What Does Luxury Mean To A Hotel Designer?

What are you working on now?
GP We have four projects in New York: a restaurant by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten located on Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport, the Times Square Edition and Moxy Chelsea hotels, along with a private club. In Asia, we have a clubhouse in Hong Kong, a Park Hyatt hotel in Shenzhen and a Rosewood hotel Guangzhou opening in spring.

GY Early next year, we have product launches with Tribù, Stellar Works and SA Baxter. It’s an exciting time for us as the business continues to expand and grow.

What’s next for you?
GP As a business, we want to grow and understand other design disciplines to strengthen our holistic vision and be global creative directors. Like a chameleon, we’re in the process of changing how we’re seen as a company. You may know us as a luxury interior design studio, however in the last few years we’ve become deeply involved in product design and fabric design. Last year, we’ve increased our expertise in lighting design, collaborating with Lasvit and the Cipher collection, which we’ll introduce new additions and product collaborations in the new year.

GY We’re changing to surprise people and their notions of who we are and what we do as a studio. It’s exciting and you’ll see more of these changes over the coming months. 

Find out more about Moxy Times Square here.

Tatler Asia
© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.