Profile in Style: The Man Who Shaped Downtown N.Y. and L.A. — and What Inspires Him

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Profile in Style: Sean MacPherson

CreditPoster courtesy of Thomas W. Benton/Gonzo Gallery


“I’ve always related to Zelig — I’ve been lucky enough to intersect with a few things that became relevant by being in the right place at the right time,” says the hotelier Sean MacPherson. Such a laid-back SoCal attitude isn’t what one might expect from someone who has quietly changed the landscape of downtown Manhattan and Los Angeles with his empire of restaurants and hotels. From instant icons like the Waverly Inn to small-scale hotels like the Bowery and the Ludlow — he is now overseeing the renovation of the famed Chelsea Hotel — MacPherson’s transporting spaces are rooted in venerable history, quirky bohemianism and Old World charm. The only child of a champion surfer turned peripatetic hippie, he grew up chasing “pockets of weird outsider counterculture” in Guadalajara, Sun Valley and New Zealand, which — along with the irreverence of Marcel Duchamp, the dapper style of Gianni Agnelli and the artful chaos of Picasso’s interiors — left formative fingerprints on his world. “I’ve never been very interested in a singular object or style of design,” he adds. “Rather, I focus on creating feeling and emotion, because a great hotel is all about the personality and the narrative that’s behind it.”

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