What do you feel is the single most important thing that people should know about you, or your work?
When I was younger, my father, who was one of the hardest workers, taught me from an early age that no matter what life throws your way, it’s important to earn the respect of others by working hard and being honest, fair and trustworthy.
I really strive to live my life like that, and in a state of grace — keeping my composure no matter how difficult a situation may be. I truly hope that those I meet can sense that I live and conduct my business like that.
Could you talk a little about your professional background, and what led you to found Paradigm Design Group?
Prior to starting Paradigm Design Group in 2001, I worked for a variety of hospitality design firms where I gained valuable experience and amazing mentors. However, I always felt that I had so much more to offer and started to investigate starting my own firm.
My husband and I started Paradigm Design Group just 10 days prior to 9/11. As we sat in shock watching history unfold, we realised that we were both unemployed and any prospects we had for work literally disappeared.
Instead of giving up, I developed an aggressive marketing plan and continued to reach out to every developer, owner and hotel brand I could find on a daily basis hoping that someone would just give me a chance to prove myself and what Paradigm Design Group could do. Luckily, less than one year later, we were given a chance by our first client and we slowly built the firm from there.
It has not been an easy climb since 2001, but I am thankful that I am surrounded with an amazing team and clients that continue to challenge me to be a stronger and wiser person, a better designer and in the end a better person.
What has been your proudest moment or most memorable project as a designer, thus far?
I continue to be humbled whenever our firm or myself receive awards for our work, but thankful for the recognition. I am also very proud of my team and what joy it brings to my life to have them working alongside me.
"In regards to projects, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, we were brought on to restore the historic Roosevelt hotel, which was such an honour"
In regards to projects, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, we were brought on to restore the historic Roosevelt hotel, which was such an honour. The hotel has been an iconic property in New Orleans since it was founded in 1893 and I was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude when the owner expressed interest in working with Paradigm Design Group.
This project provided a wealth of inspiration to me as I watched the people of New Orleans fill with joy as they watched The Roosevelt come back to life after so much devastation. Even today, I continue to be inspired by the people in the city and the beauty of the hotel and surrounding area as we are now working on the hotel refresh/renovation of some of the public spaces and all of the guestrooms and suites.
What, for you, is the most enjoyable aspect of being a designer?
I truly love design. However, if I had to choose just one part, I love the beginning stages of the design process. At the start of each project, my team and I collaborate to develop that unique design concept that depicts the lifestyle and region of that place and what its distinctive design story will be.
It is a lot of fun to mesh our ideas together into one solid vision and then begin to see that story unfold as we move forward with the design. Of course, seeing our guest and clients’ satisfaction as we exceed their expectations and deliver an amazing product is always a wonderful experience and is certainly the cherry on top!
How would you describe the identity or ethos the firm has built over the past 17 years?
Since founding Paradigm Design Group, we’ve strived to define our firm as more than a team of design experts, but as design experts that value collaboration and the unique stories that each of our clients have to tell. While we recognise the importance of establishing a ‘signature’ look that points to our work, we prioritise our clients’ design preferences and like to ensure that our design is properly representing their cultures and brands.
"Since founding Paradigm Design Group, we’ve strived to define our firm as more than a team of design experts, but as design experts that value collaboration and the unique stories that each of our clients have to tell"
Through our design efforts, extensive research and storyboard-building, we create designs that are truly unique to each clients’ location and culture. We are very proud of the fact that none of our projects are cookie-cutter or alike and really portrays its on distinctive personality. There is so much thought that goes into each and every detail, which allows us to create designs that are truly special to our clients.
What are your framing ambitions for the firm going forwards?
Moving forward, I see our firm evolving and growing into different segments of design. This may include developing product that can be mass produced and sold; focusing more on lifestyle/boutique type properties, and possibly expanding into the international market.
What do you feel will be the key issues affecting the hospitality design industry in the coming years?
One key issue I anticipate in coming years is product availability. With so much product coming in from off-shore, it can be very challenging to obtain product in a timely fashion, especially at the price we need and the quality we expect.
I also see techonology playing a huge role in hospitality moving forward. As the digital world continues to evolve and change as quickly as it is, we, as designers continue to be challenged to bring these elements into the hotel for easy guest use. I foresee major changes in how we work, live and play occurring, which ultimately will affect how we design the spaces we use.
What are you working on at the moment, and have you got any upcoming projects that you’re able to tell us about?
We have so many unique and exciting projects on the boards and we cannot wait to share them with you upon completion. From a boutique hotel in DC to an upscale, modern design that reflects the beautiful surroundings and people of Montana, and many, many more. We are also excited to start on some historic adaptive re-use and lifestyle boutique projects under our new boutique/lifestyle design arm, PDG Studios (lauched in 2017).
What would be your ultimate hospitality project?
I love every project that we do, but maybe my ultimate project would be one where I can sit on the beach with my computer and work and hear the sound of waves in the background and feel the sun on my face. But then again, I may just get mesmorised by the beauty around me and forget to work!
What are your passions outside of the design world?
I absolutely love travelling. I’ve always loved exploring new places and learning about other cultures, especially when I’m with my husband and our young daughter. There is so much value in learning about others’ cultures and introducing ourselves to so many different places around the world. While we often travel for pleasure rather than business, I’m always so inspired by the new places I visit and can take home a number of fun, unique ideas that I can implement into my designs.
In addition to travelling, I spend a lot of my time volunteering and donating to local charities. From Love 146, an international human rights organisation working to end child trafficking and exploitation, to Tricity Family Services, an institution that provides counselling and mental health services to impoverished Chicago communities regardless of their income, I think it’s so important to give back to the community and really strive to show my daughter how it’s possible for small guestures to make big differences.