The Problematic Discourse on ’Philippe Starck’s’ Delano Hotel (1999)
Focus on form: Intertextuality.
IV. The Problematic Discourse on "Philippe Starck’s" Delano Hotel (1999) - Focus on form: Intertextuality
Moving more into the texts, and towards the actual workings within them, I now consider Fairclough’s third organizational question:
How is the text designed, why is it designed in this way, and how else could it have been designed?
For Fairclough (p. 202-3), texts are "based upon choices, and ... alternative choices might always have been made"— which relates to presences and absences vis-à-vis the information totality, and all of the layered contexts and procedures which are scaffolded to create the completed text. The published writings on the Delano certainly consist of a variety of choices, and consist of "variation that currently exists in media practices", and can represent some sort of product of "current social and cultural circumstances" and authorial intent. The combination consists of a selection of genres, voices, and discourses (see Figure 5) which exist within the completed written piece and shape these texts.
A. On Genre
Genre is the overall organizational construct of a written piece, which ultimately has implications upon the content of a certain writing. When discussing genre within an applied linguistics orientation, the discussion leads into the work of genre analysts Swales (1990), Bhatia (1993), and their orientation overlaps the genre concerns in critical discourse analysis. One of the immediate problems with approaching genre analysis is its relationship to discourse analysis and the amount of disciplines that refer to both and these different approaches. What is the difference between genre and discourse? Fairclough simplifies distinctions between them by stating that a genre is "a use of language associated with and constituting part of some particular social practice, such as interviewing people (interview genre)... A discourse is the language used in representing a given social practice from a particular point of view. Discourses appertain broadly to knowledge and knowledge construction. For instance, the social practice of politics is differently signified in liberal, socialist and Marxist political discourses..." (p. 56) Meanwhile, Bhatia (1993: 3-5) sees the variety of approaches as concerned with "understand[ing] the structure and function of language use to communicate meaning" mentioning the following other areas: sociology, through an "analysis of language, under the name of ethnography of communication"; ethnomethodology; philosophy, with reference to speech act theory; cognitive psychology, "the study of discourse as schema theory, frame analysis, and conceptual analysis in terms of scripts"; and literature "in the name of literary or linguistic stylistics". Discourse is also not unfamiliar to the visual arts, with Walker (1989: 14-16) proposing four levels of discourse, from design historiography to the discourse of the design itself.
Within a linguistics orientation, genre analysis has been given several names: "text-linguistics, text analysis, conversational analysis, rhetorical analysis, functional analysis, and clause-relational analysis. The main object of all these studies has been to understand the structure and function of language use to communication meaning." (Bhatia 1993: 3-10). Within an applied linguistics context, it can be divided into two orientations: theoretical and applied. For Bhatia (1993: 3), whose book builds upon the ideas of Swales (1990), theoretical encompasses "on the one end discourse studies as an extension of grammatical formalism, with focus on formal, and sometimes functional aspects of language use, including semantics and pragmatics; at the other end, discourse analyses of institutionalized use of language in socio-cultural settings with a heavy emphasis on communication as a social act." Discourse analysis has been critiqued for being too narrow by not accounting for "socio-cultural, institutional, and organizational constraints and expectations that influence the nature of a particular discourse-genre" (Bhatia, p. 10).
Meanwhile, applied genre analysis attempts to account for these shortcomings and is "less concerned about the use of a particular linguistic framework but more with the actual communication in an institutionalized socio-cultural context." [my italics] (Bhatia, p. 4). For Backhouse, Dudley-Evans, and Henderson (1993: 3), "Genre analysis is concerned more [in comparison to discourse analysis] with how the communicative purpose of the writer and the conventions of the discourse community are reflected in the structures of argumentation." Further, for Bhatia, (p. 16), "each genre is an instance of a successful achievement of a specific communicative purpose using conventionalized knowledge of linguistic and discoursal resources." He further states that the same information needs to be restructured across genres. Bhatia sees the purpose of applied genre analysis as (1) "to characterize typical or conventional textual features of any genre-specific text in an attempt to identify pedagogically utilizable form-function correlations"; and (2) "to explain such a characterization in the context of the socio-cultural as well as the cognitive constraints operating in the relevant area of specialization, whether professional or academic."
Bhatia sees himself as differing from Swales— who introduced genre analysis to linguistics— by bringing in the psychological and the cognitive (p. 16). Bhatia (1993: 10-12) states that it is useful to combine socio-cultural (including ethnographic) and psycholinguistic (including cognitive) aspects of text-construction and interpretation with linguistic insights, in order to answer the question "Why are specific discourse-genres written and used by the specialist communities the way they are?" Previously, an applied genre analysis orientation has brought insights into the following subject areas including: medicine (Maher 1986); legal English (Bhatia 1993); economics (See Henderson, Dudley-Evans and Backhouse 1993); and science (Bazerman 1983).
Further, for Bhatia (p. xiii), genre analysis within applied linguistics examines the communicative purpose of a particular text-genre, and emphasizes the "importance of motive". Applied genre analysis also helps us to understand the implicit socio-institutional / writing dynamics and discourse structures within which a genre and discipline works, thereby illuminating it to non-specialists, helping specialists explain how they work, and enabling the possibility to question these structures (Backhouse, Dudley-Evans, and Henderson 1990: 9; Bhatia 1993: 10-12). "Over time conventions develop, which constrain the ways in which ideas are written, and which define genres." (Dudley-Evans 1990: 9). In fact, that is one of the main purposes of this study: to determine aspects of the nature of contemporary design discourse, question these structures and decisions regarding the truthfulness of the information presented, as a means to argue for the creation of more truthful design historical texts.
So, as we can see, the objectives of Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis and Bhatia-Swales-Dudley-Evans applied genre analysis have somewhat similar objectives in terms of a combined desire to demystify text construction and the effects of writings. Adding complexity into the pot, there may be a distinction between macro-genre (of the written piece as "one arranged organization", micro-genre ("the parts"), and genre-mixing, which is when different genres occur as contrasting parts— as in a lecture composed of formal lecture interspersed with informal comment— or surface intertextually (for example, interview genre inserted into a narrative). Levels of linguistic analysis can be lexico-grammatical, text patterning or textualization, and structural interpretation of the text-genre, which can relate to cognitive move structures. So, for example, Swales [1981 (in Bhatia)] finds a typical cognitive structure of four moves in 48 academic article introductions across disciplines which consists of "establishing the research field", "summarizing previous research", "preparing for present research", and "introducing the present research".
1. The Genres of the Published Writings
At a macro-level, the genres of the published writings on the Delano can be divided into the forms they appear in: public relations material, newspapers, magazines, and books. Yet each of these visual macro-genres are illusory, and the task and motive of the writing helps to illuminate the actual genre employed.
For content, the amazing thing about the publicity material is that it accommodates not only design publications, but also the hotel, lifestyle, news weeklies, and celebrity press interests (including Starck and Schrager who are celebrities), of which this combination appears to include so many notables that it feeds into the news magazines, and the media markets via the hotel locations. This mix offers an assault of textual focal points, be it the "indoor/outdoor lobby", the "water salon", "the Starck-designed oversized chess board", etc. Further, the Ian Schrager Hotels press material provides a basic list of information including room counts and opening dates, followed by essays bombarded by notable focal points in each sentence. This combination of publication-genre possibilities could only have been facilitated by the likes of a Starck-Schrager combination, particularly in comparison to Starck-non-Schrager projects in one vein, and Schrager-only projects in the other; in this sense, design and the added-value of a celebrity designer create an argument for the value-added benefit of design—through its trade press, editors, writers, and in Starck’s case, celebrity potential. [See Figure 6 and Bibliography A for a classification of promotional material from the selected writings].
Meanwhile, Figures 7-9 illustrate the macro-genres of the newspaper, magazine, and book material from the selected writings (See Appendix C for a detailed account), which include news reports, features, and a book strategy emphasizing visual over verbal. With all of the macro-genres, an important consideration is evaluating the content of the writings, particularly regarding their presences and absences. First, editorial practice for news reports consists of cutting the piece from the bottom-up to fit the piece into an evershifting space allocation, which the reader cannot see, and for features, careful internal editing is conducted. Second, the macro-genre of the features, their locations in sections of magazines and newspapers, their level of specialized readership from layman to specialist (See Carrier 1987: 108-34 for a comparison of four art press readerships) affects the language, and the general focus (hotel survey, specific to Delano hotel) affects the presences and absences in the texts. So, for example, we expect to see a historic preservation-centred article in Historic Preservation ( Mays, May/June 1996), an in-the-know piece in Vanity Fair and Harpers & Queen, and praise in American Institute of Architects 1997 Honors and Awards (Russell, May 1997).
B. On Voices
In the published writings, the voices within the text can be multiple in their intertextuality, can be highly interactive, or difficult to determine the source (for example, with the monologue rant that can be an art review). There are, however, four key issues that I’d like to address: press releases, the oral interview intertextually embedded in a piece of writing, and the role of previous writings. In a following section, I will discuss intention / interpretation distinctions.
The press release functions as a source for journalists—or those who can access it— provided by essentially an advertiser of some kind. Parts of the release or its entirety can appear in the journalistic text, without the knowledge of the vernacular reader, as it is free information which can be placed in a writer’s article according to journalistic law (Hennessy: 1997: 324-27). It is a useful source of information due to economic constraints and the situational context— as described earlier, and there’s also a constant need for new information by publications. The information provided can be accurate, mostly accurate, or inaccurate, and most often undergoes an editorial process as described earlier. Taking into account previously discussed legal issues in Appendix B, it cannot be attacked— or approached critically in a certain way. Functioning as a giant intention of aligned vested interests, its purpose is not necessarily to present "the blunt truth", but instead, a public face. Meanwhile, for more scholarly purposes, press information can be used as a piece of evidence or for confirmation of certain information. While it is perhaps appropriate to cite this as a source, it doesn’t necessarily have to be, when the writer has taken on the visual responsibility for the assertion if not couched into "A press spokesman said..." Yet, if included too much, it may lessen the appearance of the writer’s authority, or conflict with the genre’s needs.
An example of this with regard to the Delano consists of the statement on Ian Schrager, regarding his former involvement in the Studio 54 discotheque. Consider the statement: "Together with his close friend Steve Rubell, Mr. Schrager helped turn the entertainment industry on its ear with the creation of Studio 54..." In its brevity, such might be the case; however, when we read articles like Letts in Harpers & Queen (June 1997) and Colacello in Vanity Fair (March 1996), do we learn of a larger context that Schrager and Rubell were convicted of tax evasion and their Studio 54 "arrogance" landed them two years in jail and prison (according to Letts, four years). Further, nothing in the press kit talks about the controversy surrounding the demolition of the lobby interior, which is a central theme of Mays’ article in Historic Preservation (May/June 1996). These absences are not surprising comparing the sources to even everyday experiences, and the vested interests of the intention-statement and -narrative holders need to be taken into consideration. xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx
Secondly, the published interview is deceptive in that it appears to be directly drawn from spoken communication, but is actually an edited version by the writer to make the piece read well. "Umms", repeated words and phrases are excluded (Hennessy, 1997: 221-23). Journalistic license allows for rewording items— for clarity and the publication readability of the piece— while retaining meaning and intention. It also can reposition quotes which can alter the frame of the quotation, and the exclusion of the before and after context can alter the meaning. Meanwhile, reported speech— not in quotations— also alters the statement by the speaker, and we don’t know the procedures for how the interview actually took place (one interview or two, the date, by e-mail, etc.). Further, in order for the interview to proceed, the writer may have a working agreement that the interview is "reviewed" by the speaker (and taking into account the legalities of writing, this is understandable). While this is not recommended by Clayton (1992), the alternative could be that the interviewee contacts the publication or advertisers in smaller publications— in other words, use legalities and the sociocultural processes to their advantage if the publication allows. So, for example, considering Lucie Young’s "Starck Reality" in FX (December 1995), which consists of side-by-side edited "interviews" of Starck and Schrager (which includes a photograph of the "youngest" version of Schrager), it appears slightly bitchy with Schrager stating things like "This is not a time for one upmanship and three-legged chairs" (referring to some of Starck’s chair designs) and "... if Philippe could do a successful hotel on his own, he would. He can’t..." But, the piece needs to be considered in terms of salability and dramatic value. Do these little things suggest a rift, or are they entirely staged? Second, in Lloyd Morgan’s Design Week article (14 March 1997) which largely consists of paragraphs of Starck quotations, do we really think people speak this way? xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxx xxx xxxx xx xx xxxx xxx xx xxxx xxxx xxx
Next, the role of previous writings is a complicated one. On the one hand, they may be provided for a writer or accessed, or not. Given the multitude of Starck and Delano clippings, a selection is reasonable, and exclusion of Mays’ Historic Preservation article (May/June 1996) is understandable. Unfortunately, for a great deal of newspaper and popular press writings, these individually function as self-contained documents of authorial authority, and don’t engage in referencing to indicate sources or previous work, and act as if other writings on the designer don’t exist, unlike the requirements of academic discourse. Sometimes the presences of information travel from one article to another (considering that the preferred voices are finite, and the hotel is finite), so for example, we see the introductory quote of Schrager stating "Philippe Starck wants to give up designing" in both Young’s FX article (December 1995) and MacInnes’ World Architecture article (November 1996), which of course must include the assumption that Schrager and Starck are interviewed so much that they have refined their discourses and say the same things on occasion. As "voices" and "presences", the previous writings can be loud, clear, and powerful. Certain writers and critics set out the agreements, lay out what to disagree upon, and over periods of time, set the discourse.
Intention/Interpretation As Voice
The differences between intention and interpretation are not always clearly distinguished in visual arts writing, and for contemporary artists, it can be a source of frustration (See Preece, June 1999, for a popularized example). For example, the genre of some art reviews discourages the use of quotation as the writer can incorporate intention with interpretation to provide an account of the overall meaning of the work. In the genre of news reports, it can be easier to distinguish due to the reporting nature as opposed to a quest for the reporter as expert to provide an abstract meaning of the artwork. Within academic writing, while according to Carrier, the objective of artwriting is to describe artworks "truthfully" and sometimes with the aim of figuring out the intention of the artist, this is problematic due to the dynamics of humanistic interpretation, and is overall governed by consensus on how far and where it travels to other writings (Carrier 1987, 1994). Intention is problematic as it can change over time, and it is layered; the artist could say "I painted a bird", when in fact it looks like a cat— which then may lead to discussions of underlying intention. These distinctions of intention lead to discussions of truthfulness and awareness of intention— along a continuum of believed intention / veiled intention / deceptively stated intention— and approaches the socio-psycho-cultural context of the stated intention. Interpretation is occupied along the same continuum. Problematically, the distinctions of intention and interpretation can be difficult to obtain through the process of time, can be incorporated by the artist, and equally, by the interpreter. The voices of intention and interpretation within a presented text are not always clearly presented to the reader, and when assessing the published writings, the quotes, publicity, articles, and publications need to be considered in terms of motive, time, and context. Examining contentious articles such as Mays’ Historic Preservation article (May/June 1996) describing the destruction of the historical lobby interior; and Konigsberg’s "Inn Fighting" in New York (10 March 1997) and Letts’ "Bun Fight in New York" in The Times (24 March 1997), which both describe a media-watching bitching match between Schrager and his former hotel restaurateur Brian McNally, may appear to provide an "inside look" or "other side" but are problematically still subjected to the same information-gathering procedures and publication problems.
C. On Discourses
Discourses are "texts... produced by media workers" (Fairclough 1995b: 16). As with genres, discourses can be between "broadly conventional and broadly creative discourse processes, involving either a normative use of discourse types (genres and discourses) or a creative mixture of them" (my italics, Fairclough 1995b: 60). Meanwhile, discourses are "a particular way of constructing a particular (domain of) social practice... are relatively independent of genres, in the sense that, for instance, a technocratic medical discourse might show up in interviews, lectures, news items, or textbooks" (p. 76).
For the purposes of distinguishing the discourse, I offer the following discourses as a certain working structure for the writings, according to macro-structure ("overall content of the text— its ’thematic’ structure— and the overall form of a text— its ’schematic’ structure") and micro-structures (Fairclough, 28-30, referring to Van Dijk).
The macrostructures of the majority of the non-direct publicity-orientated published writings are shaped by angles, or themes, of the articles, and act as a thread that holds the piece together. This is comparable to an academic introduction or an abstract in terms of providing an organization structure (Fairclough 1995b: 29; Clayton 1992; Hennessy 1997). Meanwhile, for news reports, the structure is based upon the before-mentioned procedural need for cutting paragraphs from the bottom, which allows for an article to not appear incomplete— in other words, the articles can function as one paragraph or twelve.
A detailed account of the angles employed is in Appendix C, and shows that when comparing the 79 angles of material in selected newspapers, magazines, and Starck-survey books, we find that the Delano has facilitated copy across publication genres (See Figures 7, 8 and 9), macro-genres, and angle spines indicated in Figure 1, with interaction between classification D (hotel as "one") into A, B, and C (more specific claims and evidence); into Figure 2 E with people (Starck, Schrager) as subject-generating angle and use of voices; and Figure 3, routes and contexts of various continuums. So, for example, those topics in the continuums can be the topic, the "newness" can be the generating angle, and the Delano can be the example. Angle spines are loosely and predominantly centred over Figure 1’s classification D, and Figures 2 and 3. It is important to note that the search conducted dictates these routes. For example, the search did not include Figure 3’s F.1.b. "those by nationality of designer" which could have resulted in embedded text on Starck’s Delano, as well as Figure 3’s F.7. "Across location" in a more general sense, when a fleeting sentence on the Delano might emerge in "Miami design" and "new hotels in America".
For Fairclough (1995b: 30), microstructures of news discourse consist of things like "coherence relations of causality, consequence and so forth. Micro analysis also identifies syntactic and lexical characteristics of newspaper style, and rhetorical features of news reports, such as features which give reports an aura of factuality." For the purposes of examining art and design trade discourse centred more within art and design academic discussions, the compilation in Figure 10 consists of working "approaches" to see to what extent these writings relate to more academic-centred art and design discourse:
With regard to material that is usually utilized as the front-line resource of a design historian’s search query (art and design trade press publications and books on Starck), the three Delano-centred trade press articles (Bartolucci 1995; Mays 1996; Nasatir 1995) were examined. Bartolucci, angling the Delano around the "reinvention of a grand hotel" implicitly argues this theme with a combination of design as process with built product, identification of historical grand hotel characteristics and the new Delano twist, and actively switches from identification to description to interpretation; she also selectively describes contrasts of downmarket South Beach with the upmarket hotel. Problematically, the article could be considered very intention-based. For Mays , in his macrostructurally "balanced" piece xxx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxx xxxx he narrates and explains the restoration controversy, which results in a very different account of the design process. Meanwhile for Nasatir, she narrates the design process— largely through Anda Andrei quotes and reported speech— and employs a strategy of identification, description, and potentially fused intention-interpretation [the distinctions of intention-turned-interpretation is not distinguished explicitly, as it is in Miller’s Newsweek piece (1995)]. She ends her piece with the strategy of Starck-Schrager’s "attempts" with the design, and evaluates that they have successfully accomplished this. Meanwhile, the six English-language art and design trade press writings [Categories: On Starck, On Schrager and Starck, On Schrager, and Awards] offer similar strategies, as these writings represent several complicated "false starts", in other words, the initiation of a microstructural thread, yet quickly ended as the publication genre and sub-genres require movement and intertextual interaction with a certain length and large task requirement. 
Meanwhile, of the two books that actually address the Delano, both do not verbally discuss the hotel, and if a study on the Delano is to be approached using these two books specifically, the reader / writer needs to employ a strategy of making assertions from two points: from the general design philosophy and approach claimed by Starck in narratives and interviews (directly between image and text) (See Appendix B and Copyright Law section)xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx xxx xxxxxxx xxx xxxxxx x xxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxx xxxxx xx xxx xxxx xxxxxx xx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxx xxx xxx xx x xx xx Secondly, the viewer can employ a visual strategy of evaluation and comparison; and problems of general-specific claims, which may or may not fit the specific Delano hotel may indeed occur.
The published writings on the Delano hotel are very complex, and the following need to be taken into account: the publication genres and their relationships to sociocultural processes; the distinction and roles between publicity genres, their roles, and their sometimes interconnectedness to newspaper and magazine genres; and the genres that magazines, newspapers, and books contain, and their interconnectedness. The themes and angles (macrostructures) need to be taken into account for the structural spine that they are and how the content interacts with them, including the presences and absences of content. Lastly, the complex interaction of microstructures needs to be considered as it further shapes the information contained.
In the next chapter, the actual content claims will be compared within a cumulative totality of information, to see what is actually being said about the Delano hotel.
Table of contents | The Problematic Discourse on ’Philippe Starck’s’ Delano Hotel (1999) - Focus on form: Intertextuality