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Ari Heckman
Ari Heckman

Tete A Tat Ari Heckman

8th June 2023


Hotel Peter & Paul
Hotel Peter & Paul

My husband and I constantly discuss going on a road trip around America. Little does he know but my route is already planned out to a tee. We go from Detroit to New Orleans, and on the way, we make two pit stops; one in Providence and the other in Baltimore. Whilst there might arguably be some other things to see in the USA, these particular spots are home to the Ash NYC hotels, and I can't quite bring myself to step out of the Ash NYC bubble. I am sure you, like me, have been keen fans of the work of Ash NYC. Whether you were taken by the gingham-drapedHotel Peter & Paul or seduced by their most recent projectHotel Ulysses’, they have changed the face of what to expect when spending a night away. Their hotels have a unique narrative that sails through each room, lifting the patron from everyday life into a cinematic fantasy.

Wurlitzer building

Not only do Ash NYC create new vibrant enterprises in the area, but they also bring buildings back to life. ‘The Siren Hotelin Detroit is housed in the iconic Wurlitzer building that was designed in 1926. When Ash NYC bought it, the building was collapsing. If they hadn't purchased when they did and started stabilizing the facade, the city would have ordered it to be demolished. This would have seemed like a pink ticket opportunity to radically restructure and redesign the interior of the building, but Ash NYC wished to hark back to the building's glory days by restoring as many original features as possible. Even though there was nothing left of the original lobby, they were lucky enough to find an article from 1926 that detailed the original look and lay-out, and so they set about bringing it back to its former glory.

The building that houses Hotel Ulysses had also seen better days. In the early 20th century it had been apartments for wealthy single men, also known as 'Batchelor flats'. Since then it had gone through many iterations, including being employed as part office block when Ash NYC bought it at auction in 2018. When Ash NYC started to work their magic, they stripped it back, finding many original features, including a glorious green stained glass skylight that a temporary ceiling had covered.

From the above, you can tell that I am a signed-up member of the Ash NYC fan club, so I was extraordinarily pleased when Ari Heckman, Co-Founder and CEO of Ash NYC, agreed to participate in Tete a Tat. Ari Heckman's grandfather was an architect. He describes in an interview with A Hotel Life how 'My grandfather had always given me the good advice to not be an architect or designer in the traditional sense, because ultimately the client, whether it’s the homeowner, developer, whatever, is the one that makes the final decisions. So I internalized that advice, and I was like, I don't want to be a service provider, I want to be the decision maker'.

On graduating from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University, Heckman found it challenging to decide which avenue to pursue - designer? Developer? or finance? He ended up working for Cayuga Capital Management in Brooklyn. This is where he met Jonathan Minkoff. Their desks were next to each other, and over time their conversation turned to bridging the gap between real estate development and interior design. Right before the financial crash, they left and set up on their own. Their first office was Minkoff's apartment on Ash Street. It was a dicey time to go it alone, and as Heckman says in a piece with CN Traveller: "Jonathan and I didn't make a dollar for six years. It was like rolling a rock up a hill, and there were times when we thought, Why are we still doing this?" Thankfully they persisted, later taking on a third partner as Creative Director, Will Cooper, who had previously worked for Ralph Lauren. (earlier this year, Will Cooper announced his departure from Ash NYC. They recently took on Xavier Donnelly to take on the Creative Director role). Ash NYC has gone from strength to strength. Whether it's releasing iconic furniture or reinventing unloved corners of cities, they have gained a legion of fans watching their every move with bated breath. I would know as I am firmly one of them.


 

The Dean Hotel, Providence
The Dean Hotel, Providence

What is your favourite day of the week?


Friday. The satisfaction of settling unfinished business and the uncertain opportunity of the weekend ahead.


Best Moment in your career so far?


Probably opening our first hotel, the Dean. We really didn't know if we could pull it off.


What is your favourite Piece of Clothing?


A soft, well-fitted white T-shirt



List two pet peeves? (eg One of mine is people not saying thank you when you hold the door open)


People who leave their trash on the subway. People who say they're killing time.


Favourite restaurant?


Do I have to pick one? Tie between Musso and Frank in LA, The American Hotel in Sag Harbor and L'Express in Montreal



Favourite Smell?


Lily of the Valley

F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you could share a meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would they be?


Rihanna, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, Howard Carter,


What is the best gift you have been given?


Front row seats to Beyonce in Stockholm last week!


Do you like surprises?


The right kind of surprises


Do you believe in ghosts?


Absolutely


What song will always make you dance?


I Feel Love, Donna Summer




 


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