History is filled with men who have attempted, through grand gestures, to show the world just how much they love their wives. On the surface, Wang Xiaofei appears to be cut from the same romantic cloth. The former executive director of a renowned fashion and design creative group in Beijing, Wang has also become a successful restaurateur and hotelier in Taipei. It’s in this latter role that he opened S Hotel, which he proudly named after his wife, the famed Chinese actress and singer Barbie Hsu—nicknamed “The Big S”. But Wang Xiaofei’s desire to honor the important women in his life doesn’t end there. Consider his Lan Club restaurant in Beijing, which he named after his mother, Zhang Lan, a celebrated restaurateur in her own right.
Yes, I would say so. I always had a feel for the industry, but since my university studies in France and Canada, I became truly passionate about hospitality. I realized that there is an unfulfilled market for upscale boutique hotels in the region. Therefore, I want to push things now in a new, bolder direction to help develop and expand the market.
Oh absolutely! For my first restaurant, Lan Club, in Beijing, I brought in none other than the iconic designer Philippe Starck, who produced a stunning form of gilded opulence that honors the past yet is also very current and forward looking. The restaurant instantly became a landmark in the city and known across the country.
Yes, I admire Starck and want to continue our partnership. He is not only efficient when it comes to design, but also savvy about restaurant/hotel operations. Every project of his has a different focus and a unique look. For example, Lan Club and S Hotel have completely different design approaches, yet both work tremendously well. At S Hotel, texture and material are the most important aspects. We focus on the things that one touches and comes in contact with. Thus, we used leather chairs, leather sofas, Starck-designed Cassina furniture, Bang & Olufsen speakers, and Duravit bathroom fittings that are combined with concrete and wood.
Our vision was to create a warm environment that embodies my family’s idea of what home should look like. It is modern and traditional at the same time, something completely different from what Starck usually designs. It is also very Taiwanese because we incorporated many traditional cultural relics in the design. This time, we created a warm environment to make travelers feel at home, next time it might be a hotel with Eastern Asian elements. We will see!
I personally collect work by artists such as Andy Warhol and Liu Xiaodong.
What inspires me most in life now is my family. After having children, I realized many small things in family life matter, such as organization and creating a warm, welcoming, and comfortable environment. Yes, the hotel is dedicated to my wife. Many of its design details are related to her, with Starck giving me a lot of ideas that I could put in place to honor her. This included the pearl necklace in the restaurant and on the exterior of the hotel itself. So it could be said that I didn’t give my wife a string of pearls—I gave her a building that is wearing a string of pearls!