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Since 1966, Chicago-based DLR Group has built a practice on passion, community, and bridging their past with our future. They are one of those design firms that you seemingly just keep bumping into and anyone who meets the team quickly learns they are energetic, outgoing, and collaborative. It’s because of this approach, plus the undeniable mark the firm made on the hospitality industry recently, that DLR Group has been named Boutique Design‘s 2021 Designer of the Year.

“We think differently about space than we used to which, I believe, is the essence of hospitality design,” says Ed Wilms, global hospitality design leader at DLR Group. “We have to adapt as guests do. Great hotels allow for this flexibility and become truly rooted in their neighborhood by providing the community the opportunity to have ownership of their space.”

Each DLR Group project aims to evoke a sense of emotion and adventure for guests—which, coupled with not taking themselves too seriously, often radiates through the quality of work produced. Whether it’s over a cocktail at a bar or sketched on the back of a scrap of paper, their team lives and breathes design, constantly innovating and evolving projects, and properties at each step of the process.

“I was never a fan of cookie cutters (well, with my daughter, maybe), but instead, a ground-up approach. Every single time,” says Staci Patton,” principal and hospitality leader at DLR Group. “That’s how we craft spaces with soul that truly identify with the community. It’s an honor to be recognized for this passion and commitment.”

With projects spanning internationally and across 38 states, DLR Group may have started in the Midwest but is constantly growing its portfolio to service guests across all markets. The team has partnered with a variety of brands, lifestyle, and independent hoteliers to bring to life several notable projects including the Surety Hotel with Aparium Hotel Group, Thompson Denver, Kimpton’s Cottonwood Hotel, and soon Dream’s Flagship on the Las Vegas Strip.

In addition to being honored with the Designer of the Year award, DLR Group also received awards in the Best Lobby Upscale, Best Guestroom Upscale, and Best Hotel Focused Service, and Judges So Cool categories at the Gold Key Awards Gala on November 15, 2021.

View the full list of 2021 Gold Key Awards winners

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