Alex will not only be remembered for his inspired life work but also for his big heart. He loved people and shared the bounty of his ideas with everyone he met. From all of you, we’d like to continue to collect stories, photos, memories and inspiration — please send these to firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 01, 2014
November 20, 2013
Last week, we suddenly lost our mentor, friend and muse to the ether. Alex always took chances on nearly unemployable freaks like us and changed our lives forever. He was our North Star. His trust and confidence in us was a gift he would never take credit for. Alex believed unshakably in the ability of everyone to do great work. He was a master at facilitating good thinking – stepping out of the way and enjoying the scene as an idea grew stronger and stronger.
It’s always in hindsight you see how much someone truly gave to you. Alex was our boss. But he was more and different than that. He was our beacon. He was a master of ceremonies. A bright flare of love and gumption in the space-time continuum. A big, strong flag of YES.
He imbued in us a mutual faith in our shared ability to realize and manifest meaning in the world.
This faith is the underpinning of all experimentation, and Alex instilled it in people effortlessly. He was a punk anti-capitalist in the truest sense, in that he encouraged the unwise allocation of human resources to risky ventures that took no heed to consumer research. His gestures were about instinct, and he made us all believe in ourselves, and make better work, by quietly requiring us to believe in our creative wolf-senses.
That was the only way to get lucky enough to work with Alex – being naively unaware of the ridiculousness of following your instincts. He followed his instincts straight into creative immortality – he was a visionary, a mover and a shaker, an igniter.
People will want to say he was infallible and all-powerful. He was just a vulnerable creative kid like the rest of us. He taught us to work quietly, diligently and without knowing where we were going, yet with a strong sense of smell.
You know it when you see it, and you never let it go.
Alex created an ongoing act of storytelling where it was safe to fail. Where we invented our own logic and then followed it faithfully, or broke it with intention. We were beholden to the authenticity he expected each of our choices to have. His work was his life, and he made that true of us as well. As Roman said, all conversation with Alex would always circle back to Ace. Every waking moment we spend in the world, we are thinking of this story we’re telling together, and how to tell it better, how to nourish it, and each other.
Ace was always a metaphor for Alex. It was a mutable sign, a flag, a catalyst, and an excuse to do a bunch of cool shit. Whatever crossed our minds. We have all fallen in love with this metaphor, and with Alex’s vision, and with his mystery and dedication.
For many of us, Ace will always be a first love. Everywhere else we go will be sensible shoes compared to it.
Alex has friends and family in every area code on the planet, but at heart he was a lone wolf. He would disappear sometimes for days on end. It was the mark of someone inspired, but also the mark of someone who preferred to share nothing but positivity with the world. When dark clouds rolled in, he hibernated. Many of us do. Still, when he was in hiding, we were pretty lost. Him and his curly head marked the presence of creative honesty – truth is too static; this was just honesty. This was curiosity and inquisitiveness, not answers. We loved having him near and accessible so we could keep asking questions, interrogating the felt and known world with him.
We will miss his emails at three in the morning about a punk band he met in Brussels and how one of their mothers is a master metalsmith and she made him dinner and they talked about her making custom handrails for the stairwells in our next hotel.
Or him showing up in town unannounced and coming in from the rooftop after a smoke break and dropping a 70s pamphlet about the energetic benefits of circular breathing on your desk.
Or a cell phone photo of a drawing he found on the sidewalk in New York, ground to a pulp underfoot and stained with dirty raindrops – texted with “Blog post?......just an idea and so on…”
He was a creative father.
He transformed everything he touched.
It’s been an honor to have existed in such proximity to his dedication and vision, and to have been part of his life’s work.
We have really lost an honest heart and an energetic lightening bolt, and the world, and we, will limp for it.
Alex, thank you. We miss you.
— Atelier Ace
Portrait by Damon Way
this is one of those rare times when i am humbled and stunned.
I have been away from the computer (and news) all weekend and only heard about the sad sad news this afternoon at work.
I work in a graphic design company (Pentagram), which like ACE has offices around the world and is staffed by fairly young, creative people who try to create great things and try and make the world a little radder day by day. Ace London has only been open a few weeks here,and Alex is not a 'celebrity' known in London, yet people were talking about the sad news...not in a trashy, negative, gossipy way, but in a sad, somber way that befitted the loss of a peer, someone inspiring...a friend. Nobody had ever met Alex, or even been to ACE yet...but yet they were talking at the loss of 'one of them' - somebody individual, somebody creative, somebody who tried and pushed things in the best way possible. Alex has touched more people than perhaps most of you know.
There is always the personal connection - those that actually knew Alex, who had shaked his hand or heard his voice in a room...but then there are the others , where they know him, his personality, through his work...through ACE.
I believe in honesty and when i was first approached by ACE i was super excited. Living in England, through the internet i had heard of ACE and seen its great projects and spaces. It was super inspirational...it touched and inspired me, and i know that if it touched and inspired me then it has touched and inspired countless more...and will continue to do so.
To say i was commissioned by ACE hotels was the highlight of my year and its still surreal...but in a beautiful way. In that short time i worked there - you and everyone i met were so super nice, so inspiring and so cool - it was like hanging out with the coolest families...the coolest gang...and this is something Alex make happen. It is hard to pull the best people together, keep them inspired and mad nice - but he did that. You dont make that happen by being an arsehole, you create that by being a genuinely cool guy...and i knew then that he must be a super fucking cool guy, and that the ACE family/gang was one id be down with for forever....and i still am. Anyway you guys need me.
Its amazing to think he saw my mural and even more amazing that he liked it. Please find attached two images that i think are fitting for this moment. Please feel free to use them anyway way you see want. Its only a small token to offer these works but please let me know if i can be of anymore help...as said, im genuinely down with ACE for life.
Perhaps ive rambled on too much, said things i shouldnt have, but to be honest its time like this that nothing makes sense - and im sure thats more so in the ACE organisation right now, but if you take one thing (apart from the images) from this mail its that from the bottom of my heart, id like to wish love and big hugs to everyone at ACE. He will never be forgotten...
if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself)have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses
my father will be(deep like a rose
tall like a rose)
standing near my
(swaying over her
with eyes which are really petals and see
nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
This is my beloved my
(suddenly in sunlight
he will bow,
& the whole garden will bow)
E. E. Cummings
A quick story...
I first met Alex by a random combination of potential email address'.
About 5 years ago, not long after I met my fiancee, I proposed we take a trip to Coachella. Where to stay? The Ace. I sent a book as a bribe, followed by emails to alex@ace, alexc@ace etc etc... Minutes later, I was all taken care of.
Since this point, we've crossed paths, traded more books etc. All the way up until just last week I invited Alex to come to Sydney and present at our next Semi-Permanent headline event. His only note was that he may be a little nervous getting on stage by himself, so we agreed for him to a bring a friend. John Jay.
After hearing about Alex's death, I first felt like the world has lost a visionary. Someone who filled people lives with a little more delight. My next though went to how much I would have loved to have greeted him at the airport when he came to town. There will be a special mention on stage to Alex to our 10,000 attendees. He'll be missed.
I would like to thank Alex not only for the vision he brought to our world, but for the inspiration he offered on an individual basis. As my father has been working closely with Alex and the Ace team for the past couple of years, I have witnessed his restored sense of self and purpose. Alex gave him something new to believe in, to be excited about. I believe Alex set forth to make changes in the world that weren't grandiose, but rather human. He has granted so many people around him with a faith in collaboration and compassion. It is difficult to describe how much his philosophies have touched my father's life and my own. Alex will not be forgotten.
Alex’s first trip to Seoul: Though he loved the life and spirit of the city, don’t think he liked very much the spicy foods from the amount of water he drank during the meals we shared! We’ll miss him here!
My Name is Raif Adelberg.
Myself and my family send our condolences to his family and friends.
I met Alex in 1998 and got the privilege to know him as a friend
and work on various projects and experience the creativity.
Alex was a gentle lion and and inspiration
Hi, I'd like to contribute to the memorial for Alex Calderwood (I'm one of the mural artists from ace london)
I wasn't too sure what to send in but I know Alex liked this print.
I just wanted to say thank you to Alex for the opportunity he gave me.
when i worked on my first room at the ace hotel back in 2010 i filled the wall with all things ace...including a drawing of alex. his portrait was the last thing that i drew and his image fell off my pen in a few easy strokes. his face felt like it was right at home in the room and on the wall surrounded by the bits of the world he created....
he later asked me for a photo of his portrait and that meant a lot...
if you go in room 1208 he's there on right side of the wall with a flower next to his name. (below is the note from alex and the portrait).
i met alex back in 2003 when we worked most of the summer creating an event/party for nike (laser shoe?) at the chelsea art museum via neverstop. he was bringing together all of these artists like kenzo, eric elms and scott campbell...anyway, i worked for the museum and was so inspired by his vision of the event that i told him that there were secret rooms/studios on the 2nd floor (that were't part of the deal) but i unlocked the studios and kenzo and the guys moved in and created work in the space for days/weeks leading up to the party...
i just remember feeling lucky to be a part of whatever it was that was happening....because this dude with the floppy black locks had a vision and passion that was unlike anything i had encountered.
seven years later i was sitting in the lobby at the ace hotel grabbing a coffee before picking up my son from school. i quickly saw his hair come/go through the lobby (i always saw his hair first!)...and i was like "shit i think that was alex..." i hadn't seen him since 2003 and i quickly followed him outside and he was about to hop in a SUV and i was like "hey alex-it's kate...remember me from the nike party?!" and he stepped away from the car...came over to chat/ask about my life/family etc and then i asked him if i could draw on the walls in the hotel and he said "of course, go inside and ask for a guy called jou-yie and he'll hook it up."
and that was that....he gave me a chance that changed my life.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
It is quite amazing to think I knew this incredible man. Ever since I met Alex and educated myself on his work and dedication to Ace, I have enveloped myself in everything with “Ace” and the history behind Alex himself. I have had friends Tweet & email me asking “did you actually know him?!” or “did you ever speak to him” and I am lucky to say yes on both accounts, we knew each other very well. I even introduced him to my parents when they recently visited, and they found it hard to believe that such a cool, calm and regular guy was behind “Ace”. They were so saddened to hear the news, his family & friends are in their prayers.
I was here every step of the way since work first begin on Ace Hotel London Shoreditch, and I am so upset that I won’t hear him say “hey Marteeeen” (how he pronounced my name) ever again. An incredible man and an even more incredible loss.
We’ll miss you Alex!
Dear Atelier -
I only met Alex once, earlier this year, before we (at Fabrica) ended up doing some "decorations" for the interior of a couple of the rooms of the Ace Shoreditch. Though I wasn't sure what to expect - I'd stayed in the Ace Manhattan a couple of times, but had no further connection - I was surprised and delighted with the conversation that I was privileged to have with Alex. We talked for a couple of hours about cities, creative neighbourhoods and music scenes in particular - he graciously let me wax lyrical about my "hometowns" of Sheffield and Manchester and their music scenes, about which he was interested and knowledgeable, and then we spoke about another former hometown of mine, Shoreditch, and his plans for the Ace hotel there. I was impressed with his understanding of the area — he seemed to breathe the air of a foreign city remarkably astutely — and his desire to connect to local producers and suppliers. If only more businesspeople understood the synthesis of local and global in such an instinctive way, and the possibility therein.
Again, I only met him once, but I suspect he made a similar impression on everyone he met. He will be missed.
Dan Hill, and Fabrica.
Alex and I were co-editors and creative directors of a special issue of Arkitip.
Our concept was inspired by the “X” in Tokyo which symbolizes the art
He was the most inspiring and creative collaborator I have ever worked with.
John C. Jay
Photo from Janet Jay
My name is Mic Neumann. - Mic is short for Michael.
I met Alex while we were both still in our 20's, living in Seattle, partying and plotting our plans for the future. We ran mostly in different circles at the time, but we made a prolific connection when it came to all things creative, which kept us uniquely close.
We could talk about things for hours, educating each other, inspiring each other, and continuously making each other laugh.
I eventually decided to give NYC a try, and the timing worked out well for Alex to frequently come crash on my couch, as his list of far flung friends had begun to grow exponentially over the years, and NYC made for a great connection point.
And when I think of him fondly now, the year 1999 prominently comes to mind, as we were finally in our element, working on an art project together called ARO.Space with Jared Harler and Nasir Rasheed, the launch of NYLON magazine with Helena Christensen, the very first Standard Hotel in Hollywood with Andre Balazs, a new Rudy's Barbershop in that location, and the very first Ace Hotel location in Seattle, housing another adjoining Rudy's Barbershop with Wade Weigel, David Petersen and Doug Herrick
We were feeling very satisfied that year, and Alex had made another good friend in Tyler Brule, the founder of Wallpaper Magazine, whom we had visited together on an inspired weekend trip to London earlier that year.
On this UK trip, Tyler had invited Alex, who had in turn invited me, to Holiday with Tyler, his family and friends in Australia over the week between Christmas and the coming New Year, and we both couldn't think of a better way to celebrate our triumphant year.
We had an incredible time over our week in Australia, and one of the great memories that I have of him on that trip, and that I was able to relive with him while he was still alive, was that while settling into our marathon flight back to Los Angeles from Sydney, Alex pulled out his book, "Another City, Not My Own" by Dominick Dunne, while preparing to listen to the mixtape I had given him for our trip by the music artist known as Larry Heard alias Mr. Fingers.
But, before he dove into it all again, he made a point of saying that he hoped that some day in the future, the Ace Hotel could become a place where artists, authors and creative people could feel as if they had found a second home for creating their work, the same way Dominick Dunne had done with his book and the Chateau Marmont Hotel.
Throughout the flight, completely immersed into his book and the music, Alex would be smiling and busting out laughing completely oblivious to his surroundings, and just over a decade later, Alex was able to show me the email that he had received from the Australian writer and director, Baz Luhrmann, thanking him for creating such an incredible second home for the auteur to live, work, write and create the modern day screen adaption of "The Great Gatsby" while staying at the Ace Hotel in New York City.
I will miss my friend.
Alex gave a tremendous support to creative scene and gave a lot of guys chances. I am sure that there are many guys who can say that they owe their career to Alex and he kick-started numerous artists' careers. I am one of those guys. He was one of the very first guys who gave me a chance when he and Matt gave me a gigantic white wall to paint for Nike through Neverstop 10 years ago, and continued to support me through my career and gave me so many different canvases in different mediums, forms and shapes.
With Ace Hotel, I got to do murals for Portland and New York, and Ace was the first one to reach me when Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami happened on March 11th 2011, and we released the Japan Relief Shirt together.
I was fortunate to have met him at very crucial point of my life and very lucky to have gotten to work with him many times since, and it has been such a pleasure to have pulled many all nighters for him. I wish more people and new generations to come could have done that. It is a huge loss. Thank you for all the canvases you have given us, Mr. Alex Calderwood. And rest in peace. You will be missed.
- Kenzo Minami
We were in town from Los Angeles staying for the first time at the new Ace NYC. Alex, Kelly, and Cat came down to Peasant for a late night dinner. We sat for many hours talking about all things new, all things old. Our many, many lives together. Time spent in Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs, attending our wedding, an art opening, having dinner on the Lower East Side, doing a walk through for an event in NYC, on a conference call for Neverstop projects, on and on. So many memories flood together and become interwoven in this narrative that we have with you. I remember you being so engaged and really loving to our new daughter Elodie who you first met in Palm Springs when she was 8 weeks old. It was so special to share time with you. You were always so giving of your time and interested in others, never wanting to miss out. You have been in my life for over 13 years and I always expect to see you at any moment. I can hear your voice as clearly as if you were in the room. Your presence will always be felt as a positive force in this world. We love and miss you Alex.
I am very saddened and sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and mentor.
I just wanted to say how appreciative I am of the opportunities that Alex and ACE Hotel have provided for me. I honestly don't know if my career would be where it is today without having had the opportunities to work with ACE. The world holds such a high level of respect for ACE and the creative nebula that surrounds it. Here's to Alex who forever raised the bar and redefined the modern hotel in his vision of effortless cool.
Impact of your creativity on people's lives is immense.
Your vision is clear and realistic.
I am still confident that YOUR LEGACY will do more works in future
For betterment of fellow human beings.
I RESPECT YOUR WORK
Thank you Sir.
I know that this is a really long ramble, and a somewhat silly cool guy posed pic, but I wanted to send this email regardless, like a selfish lipstick kiss and some endearing graffiti sprawled on his tombstone
I took this picture around 2003 in Portland while I was painting the mural at Rudy’s in the Wieden and Kennedy building. It was a really exciting time for me. I had just started Nom de Guerre with my partners in New York. I flew out to Portland and spent about 2 weeks there with Alex. Once the mural was finished we drove up the coast to Vancouver, and then back down to Seattle where I caught a flight home to New York
I first met Alex when I was 17 as a fresh arrival in Seattle. Alex gave me work as a DJ at Aero Space and other venues where I was nowhere near old enough to get in as a club goer. Since that time, almost 20 years ago, Alex has played a pivotal role in literally every new endeavor that I have embarked on; from DJ, to visual artist, clothing designer, art director and now HiFi designer, Alex provided the ground level support that got most of these projects off of the ground. He had a godfather like way of bringing in talent and nurturing it without imposing any ego. It always felt like he was your biggest fan, although I’m sure that as we look at his body of work it will be obvious that so many of us in the creative community owe him as much credit as an artist does to their dealer, or a band does to their manager. He asked for nothing in return
When I heard about Alex’s death, I was overwhelmed with the desire to give an impossible amount of thanks. A day or two later I remembered this email that I had exchanged with him and a few other people just one month ago in which I said about Alex, "On a personal level I can't really think of anyone who has been more supportive of me creatively over such a long period of time." I was feeling grateful and nostalgic even then, but the fact that I had even a small chance to extend some gratitude makes me feel a little bit better. I will be forever in his debt.
I met Alex about 18 months ago in the “green room" of the Charlie Rose show. I was in NYC working on a friend’s book launch which included taping an interview with Charlie. I was there among other randoms + the famous folks who were about to be interviewed.
After a few minutes of excitedly chatting with a famous person I was a fan of, I noticed a guy sitting alone, off to the side. He had a mop of curly hair and a quiet, unassuming presence. So unassuming that I assumed that like me, he was probably "just" a handler. I went over and introduced myself.
Turned out that unassuming guy was Alex. I learned about all the amazing things he had done like like starting ACE, Rudies, etc. Turned out he'd been at a party w/Charlie and had mentioned it’d be cool to get a peek behind the scenes. Charlie Rose, probably also a big fan of Alex, easily made this happen.
I talked to Alex for a good half-hour. About Rudy’s, the ACE, other projects. We talked about my run for Congress, working in tech, being on The Apprentice, and other randomness. I was blown away by how attentive and interested he was in *my* stories vs just wanting to talk about himself, as is the way, for so many successful people.
It was an awasome, easy, natural conversation. We exchanged cards before we left.
We kept in touch and while he was passing through San Francisco looking at some deals we were able to get together for a quick catchup a couple of times. He was quick to connect me with others who I might share an interest/passion with. Each time I met Alex he was a positive, inquisitive, and awesome presence.
In the course of our few conversations, my love of tea and interest in possibly turning that passion into a business came up. This past summer, I got a ping from Alex because he remembered that and wanted to see if I was interested in working together on a tea store in a location he had in mind in London. My heart wasn’t in it then — I wanted to go back into tech — and so nothing came of it.
I sent Alex a quick note in July when I was in NYC interviewing for my current job. We weren't able to connect. I've since moved to NYC, and as I’ve passed by or visited the ACE since, I kept meaning to drop Alex a quick note letting him know I was here, so we could catch up.
I found out last Friday, from Twitter of all places, that Alex had passed away. I was dumbstruck. I obviously wasn't extremely-close to Alex, but I did know and really like him. I was inspired by his energy, talent, and accomplishments. How humble and generous he was.
It's hit me randomly since then: If the life could be taken so quickly from someone so bright, like Alex, of course it could happen to me.
You never know. I do miss Alex. I'm sad that I won't get to see him again, to learn from him, to be inspired. But I'm also thankful from his final gift to me: That I need to purposefully live my life. Treat others, today, in the way that, in retrospect, that I wish I had.
I hope that Alex is at peace. I am a better person for having known him.
Sorry it's only a small image, but still has Alex's lovely laid back smile
hello, i made this while thinking of dear dear alex. it was such a delight to get to know him during the creation of the diorama in palm springs. he was such a fantastic, energetic and curious person. pam shamshiri told me there might be a zine for the memorial this weekend. i made this with my heart.
x, clare crespo
To the Atelier family, several of whom I have had the utter privilege to meet and count as friends, I send all my love and sincerest condolences for the loss of this amazing man.
Words don't normally elude me. Words are my thing and yet I'm at a loss to find the right ones to capture adequately the enormity of Alex's impact on my life or the profundity of my sadness in his passing.
Alex was subjected to a fair amount of my words in the many brainstorming sessions and meetings that we had as London was conceived and brought to life. He was always really patient with them, though, and he was generous with his as he dreamed up all the amazing possibilities for what this project could accomplish. I loved listening to him as he created space for us all to dream along with him. No matter what he threw out, I found myself inspired to find the right people to help make it happen because it would be something special if we could.
His sense of inclusivity, joy in creation, positivity and ability to make us all feel like we were part of this amazing family were an absolute breath of fresh air. I'll never forget the London kick off meeting when Alex got us all off to the best possible start by telling us all that we would get there, that descending into gossip and negative chat wouldn't accomplish anything and that, in the end, everything would be ok. I saw everyone in the room sit up a little straighter, smile a little more and I had a little laugh to myself that this ace man was calling a spade a spade in the loveliest language possible.
Alex was authentic, genuine, kind and had this way of making everyone's ideas feel valued, especially when he would look at you with a little bit of pride if you had a good one. He would look you in the eye and tell you how nice it was to see you and, you know, he really meant it. He just knew how to treat people.
All I can really say is that I will never be the same for having known him. In being around him, I found that I wanted to be the best version of myself, such was my respect for Alex. I may not have known him long but I am forever changed.
You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
This is a photo of Alex and me on Stefanos' dad's boat in Sciathos Greece, August 2013.
I first met Alex on a chilly spring afternoon, this year, in London. He was wearing a toque and my lasting first impression is of his fabulous curls tumbling out when he took it off. This was followed by a delightful dinner that night with a small group of friends where I had a chance to meet him properly. He was so excited about being in Shoreditch and I was thrilled to play a tiny role in the new hotel. I'm one of those local makers Alex liked to seek out when moving into a community. What an extraordinarily cool approach to doing business in a new place. He had such electricity and vision - all the things people are saying about him - yet he was also somehow modest. He was on the ground and he delighted me. We had a few more encounters as the hotel renovation in Shoreditch continued. The last time I saw him was the 8th of September, the day before opening. He met me with a warm hug and a hard hat on his head, those curls popping out. The lobby buzzed with workers busying themselves with a thousand finishing touches so the hotel would open, next day which of course it did. He was beaming. I feel so lucky to have known him, even if just for a moment.
Alex had an infectious passion and excitement for people, places and things which was imbued in all he created and his immense creative energy can be felt within every grain of the Ace brand. He created culture and a genuine sense of being in the moment. Working with Alex on Ace London revealed his true understanding of the nature of collaboration and we are incredibly proud to have been a part of it. His influence goes beyond his built legacy and will continue to endure for years to come.
My wife, Tarina Tarantino and I had the pleasure of meeting Alex earlier this year as ACE Los Angeles began construction across the street from our building, The Sparkle Factory. He wanted to tour our building, and talk about ways we could collaborate. We were immediately drawn to his child-like passion as he so enthusiastically described his story and the things that he envisioned for the neighborhood. Often times we meet people with his stature who act jaded and self important, but Alex was the opposite of that. He was humble, and more importantly, attentive to what we were saying. We saw him one more time at our building, and also spoke with him by phone, and every time, he just seemed like someone you wanted to be good friends with. I loved his messy hair and cool style. It’s no wonder that he has been able to create a unique experience with his Hotels, which I imagined can’t be an easy task in the hotel industry.
We were shocked and saddened by the news of his passing, and regret not having the chance to get to know him better. May he now make heaven an even cooler place.
Rest in peace Alex…
Alex at the opening of my exhibit (that he organized) at Olivadoce Space in Jan. 2005.
My brush will Alex the person, was brief, just a quick interaction in the lobby of ACE Hotel and Swim Club, the week between xmas and NYE the first winter it was open. He was friendly, stylish and treated everyone around him with attention and care.
That was also the weekend I started my relationship with Alex's sense of place. We had headed out from LA, just starting out on a 2800 mile road trip through the southwest. We pulled into the ACE, settled in our room, and started to notice the little touches that set each ACE apart. We fell in love with the setting, the design, the food and the 100s of little things that make each ACE property a special, warm place. We dipped our toe in that weekend, and have since ensconced ourselves with all things ACE.
New York, Portland and Palm Springs, properties have all been central to trips, both business and pleasure. We've watched friends celebrate milestone, weddings, birthdays, and we've even thrown our wedding and a conference in Palm Springs. The ACE and Alex by proxy, have been woven into the fabric of our friends and family. We look for excuses to travel to ACE locations, are excited by the emails announcing our opening-soon-to-be-new favorite travel destinations.
I was saddened to hear the news of Alex's death. I trust that the ACE will continue to be a special place and that Alex's design, style and knack for creating spaces will continue on. I look forward to returning to each and every ACE property I've visited and the new ones I've not had a chance to travel to yet, if only to see how Alex's and his talented team have transformed the spaces. My wife, now 7 months pregnant, and I are already trying to figure out how soon after the mid-Jan. 2014 due date we can swaddle our first son into his P.S. I <3 U onesie and hit King's Highway.
Godspeed Alex and ACE.
- Derek Dukes
One of the phrases that Atelier and myself came up with when we were finishing the art program in NY, after hearing of Alex's passing I thought about this phrase a lot and wanted to update the design in his honor. Alex taught me to embrace simplicity and there is nothing not needed here, no period because I didn't want to imply an ending. My run ins with Alex were brief but very powerful, Alex really gave me opportunities that I could of only dreamed of and for that I will be forever grateful.
I first met Alex Calderwood when he and Nasir Rasheed had founded Sweet Mother Recordings. We shared and interest in similar music styles and did some business together.
As his career progressed from record label owner to hotelier I was always impressed and how well he set a vision and saw it through — it was very inspirational.
Alex was always positive and a joy to speak with — he will be greatly missed.
From right after he brought me on with Ace, to the first day trip shortly thereafter driving from Palm Springs to Vegas and back for two meetings, to the trip to Germany – it was always exciting learning & listening to things from Alex’s perspective. I’m so happy he took a chance on me and blessed I was able to spend such times with him. Although it’s heart wrenching that he won’t be here physically to open LA with us, I seem to hear his voice around the corner, listen to his direction in everything we do, and feel his spirit all around the building.
Thank you for the email and invite. I have thought of you and your team many times over the last couple of days, my heart is broken as I know what it is like to lose your North Star. Please know as with anyone who shines that bright, they leave a trail even when they are gone. Here are just some thoughts on Alex as I watched him grow his vision over the last 15 years. I would say I knew him casually, but we shared many friends and on occasion we would meet to discuss ideas, hopes and passions. In those moments together here is what was clear to me...
In life you don't come across many people who fearlessly put their ideas into the world. You also don't come across many people who have the vision to make life a more beautiful place. Alex was our community's architect; building universes that set other worlds into motion and enabling an entire subculture to express themselves on a much bigger stage.
He created hotels yes, but that just happened to be one of the mediums he worked in.
He had an incredible ability to see potential and the courage to get behind it.
His tenacity verged on the insane, but it is also what made him so endearing. To say he felt things is an understatement and because he could see and feel things so deeply, he seemed to live on a slightly different plane. I often think we get to borrow people like Alex as that type of life force can only be maintained for so long. I, like many have been touched by his genius and am forever grateful to have seen the power of believing in your ideas. Alex set into motion an innovative way of bringing people together to share life experiences. Every idea, friendships and connections that happens in his spaces and places is a confirmation and affirmation that his plan is working just as he imagined it would.
I had the pleasure of working with Alex over the last couple of years, and what I was always impressed by was his humility and enthusiasm. He was always the nicest guy in the room, and his interest in just about everything was a constant inspiration to those around him. He saw things most people gloss over, and found beauty everywhere.
It was a pleasure to travel with him, although I could not match his NY-walking pace or have as many coffees in a day as he liked! I will remember him as just a genuinely sweet guy, an absolute visionary and a kind soul.
The last time I saw Alex was in an elevator in Melbourne this past October, at the end of what we both thought was a great trip. We hugged goodbye, something we didn't usually do. I got to say goodbye to him, and for that I am thankful. He will be missed.