The first thing that comes to mind when we think of our industry is the ability to be fearless, otherwise, we are just going to be mediocre. Sometimes designers get caught up in formulas, but there isn’t a formula in design. Each project requires its own strategy from its own perspective; some projects demand colour, and some demand pattern.
With us, much of our vision comes from the location of the projects. For instance, when designing the db Bistro Moderne at the JW Marriott in Miami, we didn’t want the guests to feel like they were in the lobby; we wanted the guests to have a choice of experiencing a different culture, but still within the hotel.
In restaurant design, all must work together, that is the environment, the food, the culture, the staff and the service. Design is very important for it has to reinforce the whole. A great hotel restaurant, such as the db Bistro Moderne, should stand alone and not blend in. So much of the design was done in Parisian accents rather than sun-tropical art; yet the culture was still incorporated through the fresh and natural tones of the surrounding atmosphere. When it comes to the question of tailoring the design of the restaurant around the hotel, the answer is, we didn’t. The tones express what Miami is and that is why it’s a good fit. It has intimacy and levels of detail, and it’s not a rushed experience. This is perfect because Miami is maturing and the restaurant fits within that maturity.
Another area of design that we focus on is within our hospitality division. We believe there is a hotel model that is not fully explored yet, which is the conversion of public space to private space. The future of hotels will be taking the extra space within the lobby, check-in and all the segmentation of services, and putting it towards the design of rooms and private areas to give more luxury to those customers using the space. With The Modern Honolulu, it was important to create something that shows the location of the hotel. As guests walk into the lobby, the first feature is the reception desk and surfboard installation, exemplifying the locality of Waikiki and inspiration of surfing. The opposite of the reception desk is the lobby bar, which has the same form, shapes and wood of the reception, ultimately creating the yin and yang in design.
One of our favourite features of the hotel is the design of Addiction Nightclub, with a 40,000 light bulb chandelier that was custom-designed. The nightclub was beautifully created through simplicity and clarity with a bar on one side and bleachers on the other. The symphony of all the parts came together to generate a unique custom space that is not overly designed. It’s important to cut down the segmentation for the customer to offer incredibly spacious rooms, meaning breaking down the typical hotel to create 800-square-feet rooms rather than 400-square-feet rooms. Another hotel trend is giving customers full options in what they would like to do while visiting the hotel, restaurant or destination. Accessibility and ease are additional key essentials to look for in the next coming years in hotel development.
Sixty-five per cent of our work is dedicated to hospitality, whereas the remaining 35 per cent is split between residences and retail. One of our favourite retail projects was the renovation of Printemps Haussmann in Paris, France. When envisioning the design, we wanted to combine Paris tradition with a fresh, contemporary environment for the historic Printemps department store, one that exudes a chic flavour in the eyes of visitors and an international influence in those of the Parisians’. The overall store plan was to replace the “department store” aspect with freshness and energy in subtle yet elegant ways. This exciting counterpoint of perceptions was unified by fine finishes and materials throughout; the retail spaces are conceived as a series of “rooms” like a large mansion, each with its own unique and identifiable character to create a residential ambience. This helps to avoid commercial stereotypes and promote a relaxing atmosphere.
Throughout our years as interior designers, we have hit career-changing projects. Now is an incredible time of opportunity, for interesting, challenging and stimulating projects are arising – and within reason. We are trying to embrace those opportunities while making sure we share and enjoy our time with friends.
Who are our ideal clients? Ourselves. It pushes us to work harder with our own projects. Best clients are informative and fair. Clients that challenge us give us more opportunity to work harder. Challenge gives us more dialect and dialogue, which ultimately creates for more vision and ideas toward the purpose and goals of a project.