Sincerely, BLLA

Designing + Producing Furniture for Boutique Hotels

I have been in the custom hospitality furniture industry for over 20 years. My company, C2C Designs, has manufactured casegoods and seating for a var...

I have been in the custom hospitality furniture industry for over 20 years. My company, C2C Designs, has manufactured casegoods and seating for a variety of properties.  I can say, without hesitation, producing custom furniture for boutique hotels is a personal joy of mine. Why? Because…it’s all about the experience. And not just for us, the manufacturers, but the designers as well.

Recently I caught up with three fiercely talented friends+collaborators with more than 50 years combined experience designing Boutique Hotels. Our discussion focused on the challenges/advantages of designing and producing for these properties.

Whatchallenges have you experienced designing boutique hotels?

Chris Sheffield, founder SL Design: Time, always; making sure the schedule allows for development of the concepts and space for feedback from the operator/manufacturers. 

Jude Mulhern, Design Director, Marzipan Design: The only challenge (potentially) would be budget as unique things tend to cost more – however not having the brand restrictions more than compensates.

Alexandra Peck, Alexandra Peck Design: The biggest challenge is coming up with something original and unique to that specific site.  Typically there aren’t any brand standards that would provide any guidelines; but this is also the most exciting part about working on these projects.  Everything must relate to the design concept for the hotel but it’s almost like making art. 

As a manufacturer, our focus is all about the details. Every step in the development of these products requires unique customizations. Because designers are not shackled to rigid guidelines, the products tend to be more creative and incorporate details central to the design concept.

What difficulties have you faced in designing furniture for Boutiques?

Alex: Sometimes Boutique Hotels will want to have a large variety of furniture pieces but this results in a lot of time and money spent. Often the hotel cannot afford these “one-offs” so we have to chose the special, statement pieces, and spend time and energy on those to make them real wow-factors.

What do you look for when working with a manufacturer on these projects?

Jude: The ability to work well in multiple materials and attention to detail – we need manufacturers that understand the importance of quality detailing and PROPER shop/construction drawings! We also want a manufacturer that will advise us of better ways to do things that can save our clients money without detriment to the aesthetic.

Chris: We look to partner with manufacturers that buy into the design intent and can add value during the design development. Materiality, especially, is important to us, so we want to partner with manufacturers that help deliver value without compromising the intent.

And finally, what do you find exciting or thought provoking while working on these projects? 

Chris: My favorite thing about the work we do is that each project is unique, so each project is an opportunity to do something different.

Jude: Unbranded projects are a Designer’s dream – we have far more freedom to be creative and do our best work. We love working closely with the Owners/Developers to help make their vision come to life.

Alex: Designing a boutique hotel is truly rewarding as you incorporate so many different types of design- residential, commercial, food & beverage and often workplace as well.  People go to a boutique hotel to have an experience like none other; they crave those unique details that are distinctive to that particular hotel. Producing furniture for a Boutique Hotel provides a blank canvas and inspires us to dig deep and create something memorable. Boutiques provide the opportunity to think outside the box and create hotels that draw on the creativity or personality of the owners or designers. Bringing in elements of the local topography/flavors of the region is what brings life to this industry and what makes this segment so exciting. Boutique…it’s all in the details!

C2C Designs is an Inner Circle Member of BLLA, learn more about them here.

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