Therese Virserius: A Worldly Hospitality Designer
On this episode of The Lounge, Therese Virserius joins Nick at Porcelanosa in New York to talk about her design business. She may have started out in law but today she is a multinational interior design business owner, there’s nothing unlawful about that. From Paris, Montreal, Berlin, to Brussels, Tunisia and New York Therese designs for hospitality all over the world.
Getting to Know Therese
Therese’s favorite fashion accessory is bracelets. She doesn’t have a favorite restaurant though because it honestly just depends on her mood and the weather. Home is Sweden, even though her offices are in New York and Paris, and truly she just loves all things Italy. Her friends might agree that wine is her drink of choice, whether it’s a light red or a Sauvignon Blanc. Therese travels 50% out of the month so its safe to say she’s a busy woman, but one place she’s never designed in is the Maldives, and she would love the opportunity (hint, hint).
How Mandarin Started it All
Therese never thought she would be doing interior design or end up in New York because her background is in law. When she was young, Therese was very interested in Asia so she left Sweden for China to get a BA in Mandarin. In China, she strictly did management and logistics for IKEA but soon began oil painting and having her own exhibits in Shanghai. Therese wanted an outlet to express herself, even more, so she opened up a store for product design. Her drawings were brought to life and made into products. She created anything from silverware to glassware, candles, fabrics, and napkins.
After 3 years of chaos in Shanghai, Therese moved to New York and went back to school at New York School of Interior Design to get some formal training. She worked and interned for Jeffrey Beers where she was tossed directly into the hospitality fire. Her first project was to renovate The Westin Fort Lauderdale.
The Business Today
The clients who come to Virserius Studio are ready for a change. When sourcing she looks for slim, delicate lines, but must remember hospitality pieces have to be durable. She wants products that could stand alone in an empty room and still ‘wow’ you. Her style is eclectic, and she enjoys mixing colors and patterns.
Therese’s New York office houses 13 people, from architects to designers, and her Paris office is more quaint with only 4. Therese often finds herself wishing she could be in both offices at once as meetings can sometimes overlap. Time is her biggest challenge – since she’s always traveling back and forth. Therese doesn’t micromanage her team as she believes they should be able to run without her. They need the freedom to be creative and let their minds flow on their own, but she also doesn’t want them to feel alone, so she checks in multiple times a day. Her role is to make sure the ship doesn’t go off course, make life easier for her designers, and make sure her people are happy (both clientele and her team).
There’s no slow period in Therese’s life. On top of it all she also still designs products, does custom furniture for every project, and owns an art company in Paris. She does everything from art printed on floors and walls, to sculpture, mixed media, prints and even an outdoor furniture line. See more at www.walterswicker.com
Dealing with bookkeeping and accounting are her least favorite task but she knows it is a necessity to be involved. Therese doesn’t have a favorite space to create because the experience of staying in a hotel is a journey. It begins when you enter and ends when you leave, so you must tell a cohesive story.
Her firm has been working on a year-long competition and was awarded The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, a 3,000 room renovation. It’s got “just the right amount of bad” Therese says, and the target completion is in 2018
They’re also repositioning a hotel in Tunisia to change the way it operates and facilitates. For example, adding in a sky lounge and move the presidential suite to a different location. She tells us the creme de la creme stay in this hotel, so no pressure.
She also collaborates with students to do artistic expressions in hotels like in Hotel Bloom. At any given point, she is working on 10-15 at a time.
Learn more at www.virseriusstudio.com
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