BD West: Boutique Hotel Design Conference
Today in the Lounge is a BIG show. I traveled to LA for the BD West conference for all things hospitality and design. I had the chance to interview Christian Schnyder, a very accomplished hospitality designer based in LA, Deborah Herman, founder and president of Fabric Innovations, who was showcasing at the conference, and the conference head honcho, Michelle Finn.
Checking in with Michelle Finn
Michelle Finn works for Hospitality Media Group, which owns BD West. The company hosts two trade fairs every year – BDNY and BD West in addition to three forum events that connect buyers and sellers with unique interests like skiing, wine, and craft beer. Hospitality Media Group also puts together the largest hospitality matchmaking event.
Learn more about Hospitality Media Group and their events, please visit the Boutique Design website.
Getting to know Deborah Herman
Deborah Herman is the president and founder of Fabric Innovations. She loves to travel to new destinations. Deborah’s favorite room in her home is the library, where she has a memory of every book that she’s read.
In the past draperies and bedding in Las Vegas hotels lasted for 10+ years, but these days Deborah mentioned that these properties are switching over to all white bedding. She has contracts with them and works on only hospitality projects. Deborah also provides quilted blankets to Delta Airlines.
Deborah builds her business through personal connections, sales calls, and working hard. She was recently recognized as an enterprising woman of the year and gives speeches on the do’s and don’ts of business.
To learn more about Fabric Innovations, please visit FabricInnovations.com.
Christian Schnyder of Belaco Design
Christian Schnyder owns Belaco Design, which he shared is named from a made up language. The firm works on 75% hospitality projects, including hotels and restaurants. Christian Schnyder is from Switzerland. His favorite room is the living room, since it represents who he is.
How Christian got into design
Christian is a trained architect, but at the time he needed a job to sponsor his Visa. Christian ended up taking a job in interior design and never looked back. As a project manager, he oversaw renovations and new construction in restaurants. This position helped Christian understand the business side, but at some point, he became disinterested in managing and wanted to get back to design. He took a job with K&A Design for eight years and became principal before starting his own firm.
What the business looks like today
Belaco Design employs individuals that include a design director, three designers in FF&E, and designer in architecture. Christian mentioned that the industry is a family and competitors are your friends.
As a business owner, Christian enjoys wearing different hats. He mentioned that there is no time completely off. He can never not think about the business, but he loves it and always wants to do more.
Christian and his team work on some residential, but mostly hospitality. Residential allows for more materials and detail that you can’t do in hospitality. Also, Christian mentioned anxiety around spending people’s money in residential and that decision making in hospitality is different than residential. In addition, residential is more rewarding than hospitality in that you get to see people’s reactions and contributions to someone’s life.
Christian has not had to put a lot into marketing at PR yet. The team is fortunate that their hotels are opening and they have good marketing people. Christian did mention that Belaco Design does produce email updates and he keeps in touch with contacts. Every year around the holidays, Belaco Design collaborates with a maker to create custom pieces to send out to clients and potential clients. Word of mouth and repeat clients is how they sustain the business.All of Christian’s projects are currently in the US and are all over the board. The team completed twenty projects in 2016.
HD Expo – May 3 – 5
ICFF – May 21 – 24
NeoCon – June 12 – 14
Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 1
BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13
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