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Fashionably Designed

By Michael Moeller

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Designers are innovators, builders, creators, and dreamers. They inspire and excite. No matter what line of design one might be in, they share the same fundamentals. Objects and situations are always around them that could be the source for the next big design trend. It’s just a matter of finding it.

Much like fashion design, hospitality design is expressive. It is full of noteworthy trends and schemes that are less timeless than other fields of interior design. It embodies the notion of fitting its guests with an outfit for the time, not a lifetime. In particular, the boutique level of our industry sets forth a more fashion-forward approach to design, creating interiors that stand out, turn heads, and captivate.

Whether you’re strolling through West Hollywood, bumming around the Lower East Side, or “keeping it weird” in Austin, the fashion market embraces and thrives on fresh, new, unheard-of talent. Fashion seems to be crawling with designers taking risks, creating unique one-of-a-kind products that seem to jump from the boutiques’ shelves. While its close relative, the hospitality design industry, seems to hesitate supporting the undiscovered. It’s more common to hear the name of a small boutique fashion designer on the red carpet than hear an unknown interior design name in the press release of one the leading boutique hotel brands.

Fashion seems to strive forward—influencing and brewing new designers, studios, and shops. New skill seems to spring up on the market daily. A walk into any small fashion boutique will almost guarantee never before seen apparel and jewelry captured in new ways, items that are constantly being reinvented. While a visit to many newly opened hotels and restaurants today is bound to boast a design and concept that have been seen before in some form or another; whether it be an Edison bulb or a Neo-Baroque throwback, on the whole, things are becoming a bit unimaginative for an industry that needs to be one step ahead of the game.

Open the DREAMbook. Familiarize yourself with the winners of design competitions, or visit the senior show of FIT, the vision is out there, but it’s going unnoticed. Designers in the hospitality design industry are in need of taking more risks, it’s just a matter of how. Yes, product such as jewelry and apparel can be produced at a more affordable cost than an interior of a hotel, but it’s conception of both cost nothing; it’s free to dream, create, and design. Whether it’s sketched up on paper or literally built in stone, it’s still a vision that was created from nothing and its intent just as valuable as the end product.

Several years back these type of dreamers sprung up in our industry changing the face of hospitality design forever—from Philippe Starck to Kelly Wearstler they all started from the same place, being unknown. They are risk takers with dedication and perseverance that became the greatly respected visionaries of the hospitality design industry they are today. As time passes and this generation of designers becomes more accessible and well known, I question when, who, and where are the next generation of these dreamers will be. We all know they’re out there, an individual among a sea of ordinary, but unless they take that initial jump they will go unnoticed.

One thing’s for sure, the boutique brands of the industry will always strive for unique experiences that set them apart from other hotels, and even if they grow in size and lose their “boutique” sensibility these and other projects will always be in search of new brilliance and the designer who will get them there. Much like fashion, hospitality design will experience trends that come and go, designers that have their five minutes of fame or capture a lifetime, but new talent is always needed to drive their forces and inspire new creations.

So sharpen your pencils, seek out inspiration, and hone your craft because when this economy is on the upswing the market will be flooded with new and unheard of designers, budding young companies, and fresh talent. People are becoming a lot more conscious of cost and value of what and where they spend. Whether it’s the purchase of an artisan piece of jewelry or a 85-room boutique hotel, consumers want products to be particularly crafted for their taste, leaving them with a sense of satisfaction and no question that they’ve spent wisely. As designers we must take risk, big or small, whether you are one in a team or the sole driving force of a project, create and dream exciting ideas, because without worthy design the world becomes bland.


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