SIMONE : We’ve been talking about this since we know each other : how we could make the world a better place. What is David Carters vision ?
DAVID : My vision of the world, I suppose, is the same as most people : a world where there is no war, no injustice, no poverty. Where people had values, cared about each other, that kind of utopian vision, but … lots of laughter, lots of love … thats my sort of romantic vision of a better place.
SIMONE : Are you a romantic person ?
DAVID : Difficult to know, how do you measure your romanticism against everybody elses ? I think probably the answer is yes. I mean, I’m not sort really a romantic person, although living a very beautifully curated world. I’m not at all materialistic, and love for another person, being loved is tremendously important to me. I love movies, I love the idea of falling in love, the sparks fly, I’m kind of really into that. I obviously lived a long life now, and I lived a lot of dissapointments, but I’m not at all cynical about it. I still remain childishly optimistic, about the world and life and love, and I’ve had some lovely and wonderful experiences.
SIMONE : How can we see that in your work, and your life ? It’s sort of blended …
DAVID : I’m very lucky, I don’t have a job that I hate, have to go to an office at 9 and leave at 5, and then my real life begins … Which is the gaze of a lot of people : work is just earning their living, work pays the bills. For me, my work and life are bound up together, it’s very difficult to seperate the two, which I love. I love the fact that I do something I really care about, I spent time with people that I really care about. That’s sort of a fantastic thing. There are ups and downsides, it’s difficult to stop, there’s no line, there’s no « Stop this is my time ».
SIMONE : What is 40 winks really ?
DAVID : 40 winks started 4 years ago, I had this crazy idea to make the worlds smallest boutique hotel. Basically it’s my home, it’s where I live in east London. And by some strange events, we’ve become one of the best reviewed hotels in the world. Most beautiful boutique hotel in the world by Vogue. And we have come out as one of the 50 most beautiful places in the world, loved by a lot of people. It’s not a conventional hotel, there’s no room service, no concierge, no spa. But a lot of good conversation. I think the best way to describe it, it’s an immersive experience. There’s a lot of love in 40 winks, we get regularly a lot of emails and letters from people who say staying here has changed their lives. Hopefully for the better rather then for the worse. I suppose thats the best compliment I can think of, you’ve created such a beautiful experience that it’s actually impacted people in a deep and profound way.
SIMONE : I’ve been drawn into this ambiance here – I’m a huge fan of 18th century as you know. It’s all linked in a way. We’ve been talking about experiences, what kind of experience do you want to create for people ?
DAVID : I want people to think about things, question their lives, and be excited about life. I want them to realise that life is a playground, not to feel trapped, not to feel victims. That there are choices. I made a choice, and I have no background in hotel management. No background at all, no training in event management either. And in 4 years I’ve created one of the most written about hotels in the world. And we get filmstars, all sort of amazing people. And one of the best reviewed events in the country : we have people flying in from as far as California or New York just for Bedtime Stories. It’s just like a living example of someone who is demonstrating the ability to change in quite a radical way your life, just by deciding to do something. It’s an empowering example if you’re not happy with the life you’re living in the moment. People come here for different reasons. For some people it’s an oasis, a retreat, another wordly place, they feel safe from the harsh reality of life, other people become inspired, wanting to write poetry again. There’s good positive spirit here. And a lot of people feel that way. It’s an emotional experience. Its not an intellectual experience …
SIMONE : It’s a journey into time ?
DAVID : To some extend, it’s sort of … a self contained world, people come in from the noisy street, and enter the almost blank corridor, with this jesus who wears slippers. It’s almost a surreal experience. It’s sort of Alice going into wonderland for the first time. Time works in a different way here. It’s self contained, it has it’s own atmosphere, it has it’s own smell, people tell me, it’s a kind of cocoon … I think that is something that people feel on an emotional level.
SIMONE : It’s your cocoon, they’re entering your world, really.
DAVID : Carter world, yeah. It’s not just that, we had some britgh and intelligent guys, they have written about their experience staying here. It’s not sort of a rice on a tray, it’s also what people bring themselves. Having an openness, a vulnerability, an appetite to taste something new. If people expect a theatrical experience, they might be very dissapointed. It’s the same for Bedtime Story Nights. We make them all dress up, and get them to make strange noises. There’s a lot of audience participation, we want them to be actors in their own drama, rather then being only voyeurs. I want to break down the boundaries.
We get sometimes really famous people, but they don’t get any special treatment, everyone is treated the same. And they kind of often really like that, there isn’t a simpering servant, they can relax, they don’t have to be the person that people expect them to be. What people bring is important too. It’s not my world, they add to it, they’re part of the dynamic.
SIMONE : Where does your inspiration come from ?
DAVID : I don’t know, that’s the sort of question that pops up in interviews, where do you get your inspiration from Mr Carter … The frivolous sense is God or a wink from heaven. I don’t know, the inspiration is everywhere, you meet someone, you have a conversation with someone that inspires you, motivates you, gets you thinking about something. It’s all around us.
SIMONE : Are you a religious person ?
DAVID : I’m not religious. I don’t believe in God. I have a religious sensibility, or spiritual sensibility. I think that’s really important, there are a lot of values you can find in christianity. I tried, but I failed to believe in God …
SIMONE : You tried and you failed ? (Laughter)
DAVID : I failed. It didn’t happen. I’ve studied religious literature, I’ve always been fascinated by it. But my sort of philosophy of life is a mix bag of french existencialism, buddhism, and a drop of something else, full of holes and contradictions, but it sort of works for me. I’d love to be a sort of guru – that would be my next career, I would hover in the air. People would come and listen to my wisdom … But I don’t know what I’d be telling them …
SIMONE : What is it that you would like to share, the most important thing that you’d like to transmit ?
DAVID : Probably that life is a gift and it’s – unless you believe in heaven – a relatively short one, and we’re given a phantastic opportunity to have a life. And value it. Do something fun with it, something interesting with it, don’t sconder it, I mean, if one can embrace that kind of idea, and feel the preciousness of that, we’d live in paradise. The world would just be that amazing place.People would be living a better world, and also building a better future for the next generation, and the generation beyond that … a lot of people are very selfish, selfobsessed, thinking of themselves, no consideration of the consequences on what we’re doing to the planet. To get a lot more people to think about things and not leave the world in a much less healthy state then it was when we arrived.
SIMONE : If you think about yourself, and your future life. What would be the best vision ?How would you be in the future ?
DAVID : I don’t knowhow I want to be. I want to be happy, in a nice relationship. I don’t know … I want to be alive, I suppose, and everything working, I still want to have my hair, my own teeth. I’m much more interested on what impact my life is having on other people. I think in that sense, I often liked to see myself as an artist. Since that’s where great art is coming from. Doing creative things is touching the lives of other people, there’s a way to communicate with people, it has nothing to do with the ego. I don’t want to spent a long time analyzing myself, it’s much more looking outside. What can I do to make the world a better place. I got a certian amount of time left, what I’m going to do with it ? The self-fulfillment comes from seeing selffulfillment in other people, people who give to others are getting reward for it. I’m not doing it for that, I just want my life to have a sort of purpose. People who say : I’m gonna go off to India, or whatever … it’s just not interesting, it’s something inheritantely pointless. Looking life in the face, seeing the challenge of life, engaging with other people, engaging with the world, not retreating in selfcontemplation. I think it’s a waste of time, it’s some ego shit. Eastern religions are all much focussed in escaping from the self. Seperating yourself from all your desiers, everything that makes you you. Going outside, I’m much more in that camp.
SIMONE : Who are you Mr David Carter ?
DAVID : Who am I ? I don’t know. I’m everyone, I’m you … It’s kind of to other persons to say who they think I am, and it’s about the things you do that should make people judge.
If they’ve got time or they’re interested. I am everything, I’m a really really kind person, thoughtful, but I can be horrible. As human beings, we are all like that. That’s just human genetics. We’re all everything. There’s no one David Carter, I would be really unhappy, I would see it sort of as a failure. I’m just me. Whoever that is. And it comes from peoples experiences. You have a nice experience : you like me – I hope. Your experience comes from you. Some people really think I’m snobby, elusive … People have all sort of experiences, and that’s part of the perception thing. People see whatever they want. And at the end of the day, I don’t care. Because I’m just happy with myself. I’m not being someone, I’m just being who I am and what I am is just changing on a day to day basis. It’s not kind of fixed, nailed down. My response to the world, and to people depends on them as well.
SIMONE : Thank you for the beautiful interview, David …