On the season finale of the Chaise Lounge, Nick sits down with Belinda O’Kelly and David Kasprak the two architect-designers who founded O’Kelly + Kasprak in 2010 together after the firm hospitality firm they had both worked at dissolved. Nine years later, they run a company that can design from the ground up, manage projects as they go and even offer services as specific as acoustic engineering.
Today in The Lounge, Nick catches up with Teddy Mayer, the Vice President of Design and Technical Services for Virgin Hotels. He oversees the design of each hotel from a creative and technical perspective, develops partnerships with owners and developers, and helps the ownership groups execute the vision for each hotel. Nick and Mayer are no strangers; they first met in Spain back when Virgin Hotels had only one hotel in Chicago. At the Virgin Hotels Corporate Headquarters in Miami, Mayer fills in Nick on what has happened since, including the grand opening of the San Francisco Hotel and 11 others in the making.
Today, Nick is Lounging with hospitality designer Lisa Haude of Paradigm Design Group. Haude grew up drawing floor plans using any and all resources at hand, her trajectory from design child to successful business owner was a straight line, but she tells Nick all about her ups and downs on that path and how she sees her own business.
Welcome! Today in The Lounge, Nick sits down with Roger Thomas of The Roger Thomas Collection. Roger is an incredibly interesting designer to listen to and an artist with a diverse background in fine art.
Gulla Jonsdottir: From Iceland to Los Angeles and beyond
On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Gulla Jonsdottir. Gulla talks about her projects around the world, what her business looks like today, and launching her own furniture line.
Getting to know Gulla
Gulla is originally from iceland, but currently lives in Los Angeles. She moved to the US twenty years ago, since at the time there were no architecture studies in Iceland. Gulla loves champagne and chocolate, going to the spa, and reading. She also enjoys Italian and French wines.
When Did Gulla Become Interested in Interior Design?
When Gulla was twelve years old, she traveled to Florence, Italy with her mother, where she fell in love with the architecture of the city. In addition, her grandfather was an artist. She often drew with him. Gulla studied math and biology in school and later was able to marry her math background with her love of art as she moved into the field of architecture.
After graduating from the Southern California Institute of Architecture, Gulla applied for two jobs and received offers from both. She decided to go with Richard Meier and ended up working on the Getty Center project for four years. From there, Gulla has held positions with Disney and Dodd Mitchell Design. In 2009, Gulla took a leap, opened her own company, and has never looked back.
What the Business Looks Like
Currently, Gulla employs nine individuals in Los Angeles and one in Paris. The group handles projects all over the world (LA, New York, China, Lebanon, and Paris to name a few). Projects include exteriors, interiors, furniture, and more. Gulla’s company helps select everything. And if they can’t find it, Gulla creates it, hence her furniture line.
Gulla prefers commercial projects as there are less emotions and more professionalism. She mentioned that the cycle for hospitality projects can last for about two months from winning a bid to starting work and up to four years or beyond the bidding process to opening day.
As a creative, Gulla admitted that she is not the best business person and that every architect should to go to business school. Currently, Gulla employs someone to help with human resources and finance. She said to know your strengths and weaknesses and that it takes a village. Her office space is open and full of like-minded people. It’s like a family.
How to get the word out?
Gulla doesn’t market her company or do business development purposefully. Most projects are from word of mouth, though she employs someone to focus on marketing and branding. Overall, she doesn’t stress about this. Gulla dreams and works hard, then the projects come.
Gulla would love to work on an Olympic stadium. She is inspired by nature and the human body and doesn’t want straight lines. She also would be interested in civic buildings, museums, and skyscrapers.
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