Hilton designer explains what it takes to be a successful commercial interior designer for the hotel industry
Pampered, private and totally serene. This is the vibe most interior designers must achieve when hired to create the design aesthetic of a luxury hotel property, especially along coastal areas or in resort properties. But with competition for travelers’ getaway dollars, such professionals must constantly up the ante and think out of the box to stand out and attract guests.
We spoke with Paolo Columbo, of Hilton’s new Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel on how to get started on this career path and what it takes to tackle a large-scale design project.
If you’re interested in getting in to commercial interior design with a specialization in hospitality, Columbo says it’s advisable to have both interior design and hospitality education. “Training in hospitality could lead to a great position for these kinds of projects.” he says.
For Conrad’s new, nautically-inspired and located property, it took a team effort, consisting of two main architects and designers. Tasked two years ago with creating the hotel’s public spaces, including the lobby, bars, library and meeting/event space, “They worked with us to create a refined experience, that makes guests feel at home,” says General Manager, Chintan Dadhich.
Credentials and track record are crucial to a brand like Hilton, and “This team has an impressive career record, with over thirty years of experience. It’s the creative skill set of the design team that makes the nautically-inspired hotel feel authentic,” says Dadhich.
For an interior designer’s creative juices to start flowing, a concept is often provided. For example, “When we conceptualized what the hotel would look like, we wanted it to personify the gold age of high-end cruise lines, while also paying tribute to beautiful South Florida and the surroundings in the area,” says Dadhich. “Overall, we heavily emphasized what smart luxury is by anticipating the needs of the guests.”
The design process, which took about eighteen months for Conrad Fort Lauderdale, continued with detailed colors and themes to build off of, says Dadhich.
“The hotel is inspired by the sea, the blue sky, the sun, the swaying Palms and the natural colors and landscape of south Florida. We brought that to life by using multiple textures on all surfaces, including wood, marble, and metal as it gave us the same exciting feeling indoors as we felt when we stepped outside and saw the beautiful view from the balconies,” he says.
The needs and desires of customers are also considered greatly throughout the creative process, says Dadhich. To execute their vision, hotel interior designers source materials, furnishings and fixtures from around the world.
“The design team works with artists and craftsman from all over the world as the public spaces are globally inspired and incredibly immersive. A few examples include the Italian marble bathrooms and the lobby furniture, which is from a furniture craftsman in Spain,” says Dadhich.
To differentiate itself from other nautical/coastal properties, Conrad’s design team took cues from Fort Lauderdale’s yachting community, suggesting that a successful interior designer always takes cues from the environment surrounding the property.
“The outside was our biggest inspiration. We wanted to illustrate the destination through design,” says Dadhich.
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