The problematic discourse on Philippe Starck’s Delano hotel - abstract (1999)

The following is the abstract of a 134-page academic study on the publicity concerning the design-led Delano Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.

Abstract—In this dissertation, the author examines a selection of over 100 published writings on Miami Beach’s Delano hotel (1995), designed by Philippe Starck. He uses a critical discourse analysis framework with genre analysis—of an applied linguistics orientation—to focus on the procedures and forms of the writings to discuss how they affect the content embedded within these considerations, which is believed to be an unprecedented interdisciplinary study fusing these approaches with design historical content. The hotel is selected as a recent design by Philippe Starck, who is perhaps the world’s most famous and most publishing-saturated living designer of our time, to discuss the contexts, problems, and limitations of these writings as source material.

The author classifies, characterizes, and discusses the writings in great detail with regard to the writers’ sociocultural processes—including his own within a University of Central England dissertation publication context—and stresses an underemphasized legal context of design writings which actively affect the content. He discusses the variety of publication genres, macro-genres, use of voices (including the problems of intention/interpretation presentation), and offers a way of seeing the complex discourse emplotments within these texts. The study discusses how these writing process considerations shape and affect the content within the texts, and a large amount of evidence is provided to suggest that the information is predictable—in comparison to the author’s presented "information totality" scheme designed specifically for interiors, is subjected to problematic presences and absences of information within the texts, and cumulatively, tells us very little about the design. Further, the author argues that the information is sometimes questionable and certain design historical information is structurally unattainable, and is problematically very intention-orientated.

Concern is addressed about the role of these writings as current secondary information and future primary information for researchers, and the study shows that journalists and academics share certain problematic procedures, which actively facilitate the creation of art and design fiction, and unequally empower information providers. Through this case study, the author asks "If we cannot figure out Philippe Starck now, how can we ever expect to figure out historical designers truthfully?" In response to these problems, the author calls for the inclusion of design histories to actively discuss and present their own research, writing, and publication processes far more explicitly to equalize the power relationship between writer/academic and information providers. Through the context of this study, the author also discusses his discovery of "media design"—the fusion of visual and language, visual experience and media publication, which is demonstrated within the samples of authentic media publication, and he argues that the way to understand the creation, our experience, and the writings on the design is through the combined efforts of Starck as designer, the Starck-Schrager media specialist team, and the writing context of the writings.