Starry Night


During the first day of Boutique Design New York (BDNY), Artaic revealed the winning mosaic of this year’s Design ‘N Gather competition, sponsored by Bostik, on the rooftop of The NoMad Hotel in New York. Architects, designers, and industry leaders gathered inside the elegant Cupola event space to watch the unveiling of “Starry Nights,” designed by Kavitha Iyer, senior design manager, Marriott Intl. and a 2018 Boutique 18 honoree.

Permanently installed within the Cupola—which was originally designed as a water tower and features turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts architecture—the mosaic is an abstract depiction of a starry sky with low hanging tree branches entwined in lights. Hints of gold glass tile accent a color palette of moody blues, blended purples and night sky pinks.

StarryNight_Blog“Starry Nights” by Kavitha Iyer, senior design manager, Marriott Intl. Photo: Jenna Bascom Photography

“I wanted to bring the outdoors in, evoking the experience of a star-lit dinner inside the walls of the Cupola. It’s a simulation—as if you are dining outside surrounded by trees with the city’s lights peeking through,” says Iyer, who used Artaic’s Vitreous Glass tiles and Bostik’s Hydroment Vivid Grout to create her design. “I didn’t want to compete with what’s already fabulous. New York is the ultimate hero and inspiration—this mosaic is meant to complement its iconic skyline, a lasting interpretation of a memory that you can’t easily recreate.”

At the reception Artaic also introduced the People’s Choice Awards, where the popular choice designer was presented a dinner for two in the Cupola. This year, that award was given to Kate Lux, designer of “Monarchy,” which reimagines the nomadic journey Monarch butterflies make throughout their lifespan.

Through a blind judging process, the competition’s 10 finalists (out of more than 250 entries) were selected in September based on the originality, execution and successful interpretation of thematic elements relating to this year’s location.

This year’s panel of judges included:

Jake Lamstein, senior vice president and chief development officer, The Sydell Group
Jean-Gabriel Neukomm, principal, JG NEUKOMM Architecture
Joanne Yong, senior vice president & principal, Wilson Associates’ New York studio
Joyen Vakil, svp of design & development, MGM
Michelle Finn, president of Hospitality Media Group
Rob Polacek, chief creative officer, Puccini Group
Scott Banda, director of marketing & business development, Bostik North America
Ted Acworth, ceo & founder, Artaic

Some of this year’s esteemed judges at the reception (left to right): Ted Acworth, ceo & founder of Artaic; Rob Polacek, chief creative officer, Puccini Group; Jean-Gabriel Neukomm, principal, JG NEUKOMM Architecture; Michelle Finn, president of Hospitality Media Group; Joyen Vakil, svp of design & development, MGM; Jake Lamstein, senior vice president and chief development officer, The Sydell Group; Scott Banda, director of marketing & business development, Bostik North America. Photo: Jenna Bascom Photography

Founded in 2013, the annual competition encourages designers from all disciplines—ranging from architecture, product and furniture design, fashion and interior design to photography, painting and any other creative field—to create a unique piece that will have a lasting impact on the space. Participants can design up to two original mosaic renderings using Artaic’s proprietary software, Tylist, and any of the company’s Vitreous Glass tile selections and Bostik’s Dimension RapidCure Grout color variations. This year, entrants were provided a design template for the inside of the Cupola as well as background and inspiration to help get their creative juices flowing.

See below for a glimpse at the entries that earned top honors in this year’s competition.

1 Starry Nights_Kavitha Iyer_Winner
Starry Nights
Winner: “Starry Nights” by Kavitha Iyer, senior design manager, Marriott Intl. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

2 Monarchy_Kate Lux_People's Choice Winner
The Monarchy
People’s Choice Winner: “The Monarchy” by Kate Lux, architectural & interior designer, Stantec. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

3 Big Apple_Ashley Clayton_Honorable Mention
The Big Apple
Honorable Mention: “The Big Apple” by Ashley Clayton, designer, Maude Group. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

4 Clouds_Kathleen Hogan
Finalist: “Clouds” by Kathleen Hogan, architectural designer, Spiezle Architectural Group Inc. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

5 Blue Room_Jeremy Noonan (1)
Blue Room
Finalist: “Blue Room” by Jeremy Noonan, creative director, Noonan Studio LLC. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

6 Eternal_Sandie Turchyn
Finalist: “Eternal” by Sandie Turchyn, independent artist, Sandie Turchyn Watercolors. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

Mourning Doves
Finalist: “Mourning Doves” by Sandie Turchyn, independent artist, Sandie Turchyn Watercolors. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

Finalist: “Rosehips” by Lynn Heitler, artist & co-founder, LYNNEL Art to Form. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

Moonlight Owls
Finalist: “Moonlight Owls” by Barbara Rush, artist, Barbara Rush Fine Art. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

Mosaic Network
Finalist: “Mosaic Network” by Diana Q Saul, architect, Diana Q Saul. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

The Glade
Finalist: “The Glade” by Paul Phillips, architect, FPLA. Image: Courtesy of Artaic

Want to see your mosaic design permanently installed in an exclusive location? Visit for additional details, including submission criteria and competition rules.

BDNY 2018 Highlights


It sounds arrogant to call BDNY more of a hospitality (af)fair to remember than a trade fair. But for anyone who was at the Javits Center in New York Nov. 11-12, it was clear that there was everyone in sight was buzzing about this New York experience. Whether you were unable to attend or just want to relive the high points, read on for some of the most unforgettable moments from these two days of inspiration, education, connection and, yes, fun.
The “wow” moments started with two sold-out events before the fair even opened: a site tour of the AC Hotel New York Times Square and the Kickoff Party at 583 Park Avenue. At the tour, the owners, operators, designers and suppliers attending came as much for the behind-the-scenes intel being generously dished out by executives from Marriott Intl., OTO Development, Halpern Architects and BHDM Design as for a look at the handsome, architecture-led hotel. The party was a great place for the industry to connect.
At the fair itself, the Instagram moments all over the trade show floor—several thousand posts, actually—were easy to spot, from the eye candy in each booth to the seven Designed Spaces. Those were: AVEC Lounge by Wilson Associates; Melange:Assembled by Studio Partnership; Ouroboros Lounge by BAMO; Reverie by Studio 11 Design; Rooftop Garden Party by Duncan Miller Ullmann (DMU);The Story of Hue by Marriott globaldesignamericas and Taste Travels by Marriott globaldesign.
BDNY’s conference program packed the rooms downstairs with industry insiders eager to learn about topics across the industry, from select service design to audiovisual technology to investment to what’s new for major hotel brands. Among those attendees were executives from companies such as Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), there to support colleagues who were speaking. Venus Williams (yes, THAT Venus Williams) did the same, attending The High-Performance Design: Shaping Up Interiors for Today’s Fitness/Wellness-Conscious Guests discussion on which V Starr Interiors’ vice president Sonya Haffey was speaking along with Adam Glickman, principal, Parallax Hospitality, Kim Matheson, senior vice president, WTS Intl. and Ingo Schweder, founder and chief executive officer, GOCO Hospitality.
Our Boutique Design Power Players: Women Leaders in Hospitality breakfast and panel discussion, moderated by BD’s executive editor Mary Scoviak, was another sold-out event full of no-filter insights from panelists Glyn Aeppel, president and chief executive officer, Glencove Capital; Cindy Andrews, president, Sunbrite Outdoor Furniture; Beth Campbell, chief executive officer, Wilson Associates; Julia Monk, senior principal, director of hospitality design, HOK; Rachel Rangelov, senior vice president of design and construction, Longview Senior Housing Advisors and Teri Urovsky, vice president, design and project management, Marriott Intl. The conversation flowed freely from topics such as tariffs and what it’s like to compete for international projects to new trends in luxury design.
By the time attendees left the show (some of them to attend the Gold Key Awards for Excellence in Hospitality Design gala, if they managed to grab tickets before it sold out), they’d gotten a 360-degree look at the hospitality design world from the perspectives of designers, clients, purchasing companies and suppliers.

Discovery, Travel Channel stars among BDNY panelists

Recognize some names from (design) reality TV on our speaker lineup? The panelists from B. Garcia Designs and Danny Forster & Architecture are indeed Blanche Garcia, the principal designer featured in five seasons of the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible series, and architect Danny Forster, the Emmy-award-winning director/producer who hosted and produced the Discovery Channel series Build It Bigger, among other television projects.
Blanche Garcia
Blanche Garcia
Danny Forster
Danny Forster
Garcia, whose design for the TRYP by Wyndham hotel within a historic art deco building in Newark, New Jersey, was featured in Boutique Design, joins turnaround experts from Floss Barber, J. Banks Design, P3 Design Collective and Parker-Torres Design for “Revolutionary Renovation: Detailed Solutions for the Toughest Design Challenges” on Monday, Nov. 12. They’ll share strategies for breathing new life into tired properties and underperforming interiors—and detail tips for dealing with the surprises inherent in reno projects.

Forster’s design for the upcoming AC by Marriott NoMad in lower Manhattan, featured in the October issue of BD, is the subject of the Sunday, Nov. 11 session, “Tower of Power: Look Inside the World’s Tallest Modular Hotel.” He and fellow panelists from Concord Hospitality, Marriott Intl. and Skystone Group will discuss in depth the construction techniques and modular methodology that are growing in popularity among hospitality project owners—not just for low-rise, wood frame hotels, but for high-rise steel structures as well.

Emerald Expositions Acquires BDNY


ST Media Group International and Hospitality Media Group (HMG) announce the sale of BDNY and HX: The Hotel Experience to Emerald Expositions. The Boutique Design team is committed to producing a phenomenal trade fair for our customers this November. BDNY:

Gold Key Finalists Unveiled



If you took the time to submit any of the more than 400 entries to the 38th annual Gold Key Awards for Excellence in Hospitality Design, you’re probably already skimming down to the link revealing this year’s finalists. Fair enough. Every one of the projects considered in the 2018 competition is a piece of some design firm’s collective soul. Behind each beautiful space, each Instagram moment, there’s a backstory about the all-nighters trying to make the deadline, the missed meals/events with family and friends while looking at the materials library one more time to find that perfect fixture and the what-do-we-do-now crises when a plaster wall crumbles or a snag in permit approvals puts a project on hold—sometimes for years. With the bar for hospitality design set as high as it is currently, should every firm that entered assume it had a chance to be a contender? Frankly, yes.

That’s not just Zen talk. I’ve got the metrics to back that up. This year, we instituted a preliminary review to curate the field of submissions down to a shortlist that would be reviewed and voted on during the in-person judging held in New York at the end of August. The prestigious 12-member judging panel didn’t find much to cut. Obviously, some projects ticked all the boxes for excellence in the overall concept, execution, innovation and wow factor. But very few failed to provide elements that were thought-provoking and worth that, “Can we see that again?” comment from the judges. (For this competition, judges who had any interest in a project had to recuse themselves from the room during the discussions. And, all submissions are anonymous.)

Okay, it takes a long time to have a serious discussion about projects in 21 categories as well as selecting the Designer of the Year. But, this year, the conversation about how hospitality design is changing and how these projects are driving that change ran from the late morning well into the evening. The best part? No one was ready to stop. The ideas presented in the entries provided the theme of the judges’ dinner conversation at The Grill at the Seagram Building, a very special evening co-sponsored by Gold Key title sponsors Valley Forge Fabrics and RH Contract, and co-hosted by Neil Locke & Associates—and in emails to each other in the days that followed.

So, what were the takeaways? As you’ll see in the finalists’ list, a few names show up with several nods, but, for the most part, 2018 was not a year when one approach or one project just dominated. While it’s no surprise to see a range of concepts and styles, what’s different now is that form and function have never been more closely intertwined. Judges’ complaints about difficult circulation patterns, problems with proportion and scale and a failure to “pull through” a narrative into the overall space as well as the details were key factors in deciding who made the cut.

Another major misstep: anything that looked like get-‘er-done sourcing. As the judges pointed out repeatedly, with all of the innovative hospitality FF&E on the market, every element the designer specifies should tell some aspect of the conceptual story. No showstopping feature counterbalanced boring basics. “Didn’t we see that same sofa two entries ago?” or “The carpet looks too corporate and the furniture looks ordinary” kind of comments equated to “next”—regardless of the category or budget.

What they did like: (No surprise) original thinking. That’s a concept that’s taking on new meaning. As in fashion, hospitality design has certain trends. How hotels look can be a response to everything from the economy to how safe/adventurous society is feeling at the moment. Maybe it’s time we accept that there are going to be some fundamental solutions—laid back lifestyle lobbies; public space libraries; guestrooms with shelving units instead of pegs or armoires. The lesson this year’s Gold Key judging taught was that the designers who add ideas that make their expression of those trends fresh really are saying something new. With the emphasis on experience and continuity, overall, there’s less ascetic minimalism and a lot more layering. This year’s judges, like a lot of travelers of all psycho- and demographics, are just done with the dorm room. But, they’re just as “past” anything that smacks of being over the top. Real-life lifestyle looks can be not only appealing but inventive.
View the finalists here
Our thanks to all of the visionaries who shared their passion for design and served as this year’s Gold Key judges:

Gary Dollens, global head design/product and brand development, Hyatt Hotels Corp.
Nigel Hatcher, vice president, design & project management, luxury brands, Marriott Intl.
Lori Horvath, managing director, project & development services, Jones Lang LaSalle
Daniel Hyde, president, Artist Guild Hotels
Matoula Karagiannis, vice president, design, Sydell Group
Michael Kitchen, vice president of acquisitions & development, Aparium Hotel Group
David McCaslin, executive vice president, Hersha Hospitality Management
Michael Medzigian, chairman and managing partner, Watermark Capital Partners, LLC
Jagruti Panwala, president and ceo, Wealth Protection Strategies; vice chairwoman, AAHOA, 2018-2019
Thomas Prins, principal, TQP Capital Partners, LLC
Shirli Sensenbrenner, senior vice president, design + development services, Two Roads Hospitality
Larry Traxler, senior vice president – global design, Hilton

The winners will be announced at the Nov. 12 Gold Key gala that caps off Boutique Design New York, our ninth annual trade fair and conference being held at the Javits Center in New York Nov. 11-12. Join us as the industry honors the best in the business.

Gold Key Awards Gala Details

NEWH Owners’ Insight Panel with HMG’s Michelle Finn

NEWH Owners Insight_3

Michelle Finn, President of Hospitality Media Group, moderated last month’s NEWH Owners’ Insight panel held during the day at the 14th Annual HOSPY Awards. This panel focused on the future of Las Vegas hospitality and included Kara Sifferman, Western Region Project Director, Virgin Hotels, Sean Tanner, Director of Design, Boyd Gaming, Glenn Nowak, Associate Professor Architecture & Design, UNLV School of Architecture, Corey Nyman, Director of Operations, The Nyman Group, and Kevin Ball, Vice President, Golden Gaming Corporation. They discussed topics such as clinical tourism, walkable streets, the fantastic design community in LV, and how Vegas bounced back from the 2008 market crash. These panelists believe that in the future, Freemont and Downtown will come together and the new focus for food & beverage will be food halls.

NEWH Owners Insight_2

This year’s HOSPY Awards celebrated Kimberly Daoust, Principal at Tandem, and other individuals and firms for extraordinary achievement in architecture, design, and development in the hospitality industry. The event raises funds for student scholarships in architecture, interior design, construction, hotel management, gaming management and culinary arts.

To learn more about @NEWH, the 14th Annual HOSPY Award recipients and view more photos from the event click here:

A celebration of design in the Orlando region

Boutique Design welcomes 100+ hospitality professionals to Drinks by Design Orlando

Hospitality designers from such companies as The Carroll Adams Group, Design Poole, HHCP Architects, NBC Universal Creative, Walt Disney Imagineering and Wyndham Destinations gathered in Winter Park, Florida, on August 9 for a celebration of design in the Orlando region.


More than 100 hospitality professionals attended the Drinks by Design reception, hosted by Boutique Design magazine in advance of the ninth annual Boutique Design New York (BDNY) trade fair and conference.
This was the third Drinks by Design event held at the award-winning, Baker Barrios-designed Alfond Inn, which is owned by Rollins College, a private coeducational liberal arts college in Winter Park, outside Orlando. Net operating income from the Inn is directed to The Alfond Scholars program fund, the College’s premier scholarship fund.


Sponsors for Drinks by Design Orlando included Bryan Ashley, Century Industries, Encore Hospitality Carpets, Fabric Innovations, Faulkner + Locke, room360 by FOH, Indon Intl., Norcross Furniture Company, Studio Twist, Sunbrite Outdoor Furniture, Vaughan Benz and Wendover Art Group.

BLLA announces name change

At its Boutique Hotel Investment Conference in early June, the Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association (BLLA), an association partner of BDNY and BDwest, announced its name change to the Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Assn.

The conference, which attracted more than 350 hoteliers, lifestyle executives, fashion icons and other attendees to Manhattan’s The Times Center on June 6, highlighted the common philosophy between boutique hospitality and the fashion, retail, wellness and technology industries.

Panelists and attendees conducted lively discussions about entrepreneurship, the next generation of boutique money and how the concept of boutique is shifting beyond hospitality.

“We noticed that the word ‘lodging’ didn’t describe our organization anymore,” said Ariela Kiradjian, chief operating officer of the nine-year-old trade group. “What we realized is that our association gathered all of the fantastic global minds of boutique.”

BLLA also announced that, the world’s first and only direct booking platform for boutique and lifestyle hotels, will officially re-launch this fall. For more information, visit or

Design ‘N Gather Heads to NYC


Artaic, designer and fabricator of architecturally compelling mosaics, is excited to announce that Design ‘N Gather, the company’s annual design competition now in its fifth year, is bringing the contest back to the East Coast, with its debut in New York City. This year, the jury-selected winner will have their digital artwork translated into a permanent mosaic installation set inside the rooftop Cupola of Sydell Group’s The NoMad Hotel, a historic landmark property in Manhattan. The contest, which is free to enter, will begin accepting online entries starting June 22 through its closing on September 1, 2018.
For the past two years, Artaic has partnered with destinations such as the MGM Grand’s Wet Republic and Hyde Nightclub at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. For 2018, Artaic and their long-term partner and lead sponsor Bostik, wanted to bring the excitement to the Big Apple, hosting this year’s competition in the epicenter for the design and architecture community. They teamed up with The Sydell Group on selecting their compelling Manhattan site for the contest, and Boutique Design magazine to highlight the unveiling during their annual BDNY trade show.
“We could not be more thrilled to shift the focus of this year’s Design ‘N Gather competition to New York City. New York has always been at the forefront of art and innovation. Similarly, our team at Artaic continually stretches the bounds of what can be designed and produced through the medium of tile, and we cannot wait to bring the beauty of mosaics to this uniquely stunning property,” says Artaic’s founder and CEO, Ted Acworth.
The annual competition, which was founded by Artaic in 2013, encourages designers from all disciplines — architecture, product design, fashion, interior design, photography, painting, furniture design, and any other creative field — to create a one-of-a-kind piece that will have a lasting impact on the space and on the individuals that experience it. Throughout the summer contest period, participants are asked to visit to download Artaic’s proprietary and easy to use design software, Tylist™. They will be provided a design template for the inside of the Cupola as well as background and inspiration to help with the creative journey. Entrants are welcome to design and submit up to two, original mosaic renderings utilizing any of Artaic’s Vitreous Glass tile selections and Bostik’s Dimension RapidCure Grout color variations.
Through a blind judging process, 10 finalists will be selected in September based on the originality, execution, and successful interpretation of thematic elements relating to this year’s location: The NoMad Hotel ‘s iconic rooftop Cupola. Originally designed as an architecturally significant water tower, the Cupola is used for special occasion private dining. The hotel serves as the perfect backdrop for Design ‘N Gather with its turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts roots and grand interpretation of French elegance—it is a true New York City staple that is highly regarded for its grandeur style.
One winner will be chosen from the grouping of finalists where their mosaic will permanently be installed and unveiled at a private event at The Nomad Hotel on November 11, 2018, in conjunction with Boutique Design New York (BDNY). In addition to having their mosaic installed, the winner will also receive a trip for two to Paris, France, valued at $5,000, courtesy of Bostik.
“As a long time partner of Artaic, we have witnessed the evolution of Design ‘N Gather over the past few years from Boston to Las Vegas, and now to New York City. We are excited to be apart of the competition once more, and can’t wait to see all the wonderful works of art that will be submitted,” says Scott Banda, Director of Marketing & Business Development for Bostik North America.
This year’s esteemed panel of judges include: Joanne Yong, Senior Vice President & Principal of Wilson Associates’ NY Studio; Jean-Gabriel Neukomm, Principal at JG NEUKOMM Architecture; Rob Polacek, Chief Creative Office at Puccini Group; Joyen Vakil, SVP of Design & Development for MGM; Jake Lamstein, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer at The Sydell Group; Michelle Finn, President of Hospitality Media Group; Scott Banda, Director of Marketing & Business Development for Bostik North America; and Ted Acworth, CEO, & Founder of Artaic.
For additional details, including eligibility, submission criteria, and competition rules, please visit To learn more about Artaic, please visit

Smart Talk

What your clients aren’t telling you (but really want you to know)

By Howard Wolff

On behalf of those providing hospitality design services, I asked 20 clients what they want designers to know that they aren’t telling them directly. Six big themes emerged.

1. “I’ve got a pretty good bullsh-t detector.”

At the marketing stage, don’t show too much un-built work; clients know that anyone can produce an impressive rendering. They want to see built work and relevant projects.

Several clients mentioned that they have seen the same project in multiple presentations … with credit taken by the firm of record, by the lead designer who worked on the job (and since started his/her own company), and by the project manager who now works for a competitor. Explain your role precisely and honestly.

Your reputation as a firm founder and/or design leader may have gotten you to the shortlist, but don’t tell clients you’re going to be intimately involved in their project when you’re not.

Ted Brumleve, responsible for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ managed brands, advises, “Bring the ‘kids’ [from the staff] and/or let me know when I can meet them. I want the opportunity to build rapport with the people who will be doing the actual work on my project.”

2. “Don’t suck up. Speak up.”

Despite the adage that the customer is always right, clients want you to tell them when they’re veering off course, according to Raul Leal, ceo at Virgin Hotels. “My advice to designers, when they don’t agree with where we we’re headed: They should say, ‘We’ll do what you want us to do, but we think you’re on the wrong track and here’s why.’ Then, document that conversation.”

And Brumleve adds this observation and advice. “Don’t try to hide bad news, and don’t let it fester. Bad news does not improve with age. Tell us if something is wrong and get it out on the table early; otherwise, it will only get worse.”

Adherence to schedules is also a priority for your clients. Be honest and upfront about what’s possible. As Shawn McGowan, senior director of global food and beverage brand dervices at Hilton Worldwide, notes, “My concern is about meeting deadlines. If it’s going to take longer, tell me. I’d rather get it right than have to go back and fix things later.”

3. “Show me.”

Demonstrate that you can think on your feet. Several clients lament that the ability to sketch by hand is becoming increasingly rare. How ironic is it that the client is the one who pulls out a pen in a meeting and sketches some ideas?

Carl Kernodle, vice president planning and design at Hyatt, wants to see “sketches and models that make it clear where we’re headed.” He thinks it’s a shame that architects no longer draw by hand and a mistake not to provide physical three-dimensional scaled models. “A tangible model that a hotel executive can pick up and look at is worth the money and effort.” Kernodle’s pet peeve: “Don’t tell me you can’t do something. Find a way to do it. The art of problem solving and design thinking are getting lost.”

Several hospitality clients commented, as well, on the diminished quality of construction documents. A more detailed set of drawings means fewer questions on how to build the job and fewer problems for the owner and operator once the project is built.

With a good set of documents, you get a clear sense of what the building will look like, how it will be constructed and how much it will cost. Asking if he sounded old by saying so, Kernodle opines, “Remember the day that a working drawing had enough information on it that you could actually understand how the building is to be built?”

4. “It’s your job to know what I need.”

It’s not about building a monument to yourself or winning a design award. Dana Kalczak, vice president of design at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, puts it bluntly: “I dislike it when architects design to gratify their egos rather than creating thoughtful buildings that accommodate users in functional yet inspiring spaces.”

“And, more specifically,” says Kalczak, “I do not have much patience for design that values form over function. Beauty should be the goal, no question, but the user’s comfort, wellbeing and productivity should always be the starting point.”

“Let clients know that you understand the market they are trying to serve,” advises Barry Wallace, executive vice president of hospitality services, Outrigger Enterprises Group. “You need to demonstrate that you know how length of stay and mix of visitors affect design. For instance, geographic origin and purpose of visit impact size and layout of guest rooms as well as selection of furnishings and amenities.”

As architects and designers, you also need to demonstrate how you can meet the client’s financial and operational goals. “Owners want to know that their designers share responsibility for making the budget,” says Brumleve. “The client wants to see increasing detail on scope and spend alignment. Designers should validate budget conformance from the start and through all phases of a project.”

And when it comes to value engineering, offer cost-containment alternatives that don’t lobotomize the project. When there is a need to cut, make sure that the concept and design intent don’t suffer.

5. “Get your act together and hold on to your good people.”

Staff turnover is not only costly to you; it has an impact on your clients and their projects.

One client noted, “The lack of continuity and coordination amongst team members is a problem. It wastes a lot of time and money.”

Several observed that while it’s commonplace for designers to change firms, they feel that there is more that you can do to keep your key people.

On a positive note that indicates clients know more about what goes on inside your firm than you think they do. Some offered this unsolicited advice:

“Groom your people. Invest in them. Equip them with the right support. Help them grow with the company, and you’ll reduce turnover.”

“My advice would be to continue to foster the creative atmosphere while adding a little order to the chaos. Manage clients, engage the staff, and provide clear career paths and opportunities for advancement.”

6. “Don’t take us for granted.”

Your clients understand the shiny-object syndrome and the enticement of the next job. But they want to know that you value them.

One, who prefers to remain anonymous, shares this story: “We had a good relationship with a firm and gave them a lot of repeat business. We never even had them compete for our work. They screwed up big by taking us for granted and have lost over $1 million in design fees so far this year that we’ve given to another firm. They lost our business but never came and talked to me. How crazy is that?”

And while it’s important to ensure strong communication with existing clients on current projects, it’s also up to you to stay top-of-mind and relevant between projects.

Here’s some advice from one client: “Architects and designers could do a better job marketing by staying in touch with us, perhaps through a newsletter, providing updates on what they’re doing (via LinkedIn and email) and offering content that’s of value. For example, new approaches, tips, ideas, free advice … all based on their experience.”

And an executive from Starwood has this suggestion: “Keep me current on what you are thinking and doing. Find a creative way to stay in touch and let me know what’s new. (I’m not getting that from any other firm.)”

Today, it’s all about schedule and budget. Both are always tight. Clients’ operating margins are slim, but they still want inspired design. And they want to work with big-idea people who “get it.” They hire architects and designers who understand the overarching project goals and deliver. They expect you to listen on their frequency, to think like an owner, and to tell them the truth.

The message is clear. If you’re not sure what your clients want, ask—or ask an expert to ask for you. Design firm owners are often reluctant to ask for feedback directly. When they’ve engaged Full-Height Advice, as an objective third-party, to ask about the perception of their firms, I’ve gotten these reactions from their clients:

“I think that it’s great that the firm is doing this. I’m glad that they think enough of themselves to invest in their future and to be introspective, and I appreciate that they are interested in my opinion.”

“I love that they are doing this. It sends a strong signal about their own business acumen, brand awareness, and interest in growth.”

“I applaud them for considering how their firm is perceived and how they can improve.”

“Thanks for doing this survey for them. They’re good people and deserve to be successful.”

“The fact that they hired you to conduct this survey speaks well of them. They’re proactive. That’s smart.”

Howard Wolff, is the founder and most senior person of the strategic marketing consultancy Full-Height Advice.