Posted October 17, 2011

A Week in the Life of a VP of Design

Kimpton Buzz

A post from Ave Bradley, Kimpton’s Vice President of Design

People sometimes ask what my typical day is like. My answer might not come as a surprise: There is no typical day! I’m always in a different city, doing all kinds of things to dream up stylish, fun and comfy spaces for Kimpton. This summer was a real whirlwind. Here’s a glimpse into one frenzied but fun-filled week.

I took a redeye flight to Miami.

I spent the morning in a model room at Surfcomber Hotel. This was precious time, because model rooms are a way for us to put all of the ideas and concepts into place before we invest in re-designing the remaining 180-plus rooms. I made plans to fully dress the space, right down to the carpet, bathroom fixtures, paint, furniture, lamps, art and window treatments. These are important choices because before going full steam ahead, we have to make sure all pieces work together, the scale fits the room size, and all is operationally sound and executable.

After going over the construction details, I took a long walk on the beach to get a feeling for what other area hotels were doing with regard to beach set-up and services. I made time to do yoga on the beach with a group that offers donation yoga for a cause. The day ended as I grabbed a burrito from a local joint set in a charming cabana.

With the help of a team, I installed the model room and scheduled the review with the owner for Wednesday morning. Everything was great, but it turned out that our case goods from China (wood pieces like dressers, armoires, night stands, end tables) had been in customs for nine days and were being held by the USDA for inspection. I put a truck on standby with check in hand to get our product as soon as customs releases it. At 4:45 p.m., we get the good news that customs had released our goods, but it’s too late in the day to let our driver in the yard.

That morning, our driver gets to customs bright and early at 7 a.m., but we’re told that we were first in so going to be last out! At 2 p.m., I freak out and decide that we need to buy a desk, headboard and dresser from local retail stores, and scramble my team to see what they can find. This model room suddenly has disaster written all over it. But alas, at 4 p.m. we hear that our driver has left the port and is en route … huge cheers throughout the property!

Of course it was Miami and 95 degrees and 100 percent humidity, and of course our vendor decided to ship the entire bed fully assembled, which will never fit through the doors of this 1940s building. So in the porte cochere we disassemble everything to take it upstairs. As we were disassembling the last piece of furniture a cab pulled into the porte cochere and drove right over our bed platform.

Still, despite the hiccups, we finish installing the room at 9:30 p.m. and everyone is thrilled.

It’s review time. The owner loves it and we get approval to start buying the goods for the 180-plus other rooms. This needs to happen quickly because we need to be complete by Thanksgiving to have the property fully renovated in time for Art Basel, the best art event in the country.

We have a meeting with our uniform supplier to discuss design direction for uniforms for this hotel and for the future direction of fashion as it relates to our uniform programs for Palomar and Monaco hotels.

That very afternoon, I fly to Philadelphia to install a model room at our soon-to-be newest Hotel Monaco.

The universe owed me an easy install after Miami and he gave it to me. All goes well, and in a day and a half we have a perfect room!

Of course, my hectic schedule carried on after that. The next week, I took a train to New York City for a two-day photo shoot and PR event at 70Park Hotel to re-launch the hotel after a big renovation. From NYC, I flew to Wisconsin for the weekend to hang out with my family for my niece’s birthday. Monday morning I was back at it, flying to Washington D.C. for a model room review at Madera Hotel.

Chances are, with all this travel, I might bump into you — anytime, anywhere — soon. Life is busy, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Looking forward to crossing paths!

~ Ave


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  1. […] This post was Twitted by DebSmouse […]

  2. Sounds like you need a very capable and energetic assistant! I’m hungry for creative, high energy work and I’m a lover of Kimpton Hotels – their reputation is impeccable. Contact me if you’re looking for help!

  3. Karen Wizevich says:

    Your job is wonderful! I am architectural evaluator for museums/exhibits/all kind of buildings and spaces! Really! I do my own personal evaluation every time I stay at a Kimpton…I’ve been thinking of asking Kimpton if they would like some evaluation assistance — we could interview/focus group visitors in both prototype rooms, and in real rooms and get their reactions! I do this for museum exhibits around the world — sounds like fun, no?

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  5. Michele Kenney says:

    I share your zest for design and construction. I have over a 20 year background in interior design, construction management and facility management with Wyndham and Tommy Bahama for hospitality, multi family and restaurants. I have enjoyed your hotels in SF when I was remodeling the old Julianna Hotel for Wyhdham.I would love to help you on your new Palladian Project in Seattle.

    Please contact me if you are interested. Visit my Linkedin profile.

    Best of luck, you are part of a wonderful organization.

    Michele Kenney

  6. Alyssia Lazin says:

    Hi Ave, you certainly are a busy man responsible for lots of creative decisions.
    I am an international photographer, living between Tuscany Italy and Sarasota, FL, the new location for a Kimpton Hotel. My work hangs in both public and private spaces on 4 continents. Recently I sold 26 of my images to a newly designed I.M.Pei building in Mumbai, India which was built by the largest developer in India.
    Knowing that I live part of the year in Sarasota, I would like to introduce you to my work. My web site is My email is I look forward to hearing from you.
    My best,
    Alyssia Lazin

  7. Melissa Hormann says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Ave! I can’t help it, every October 14th I think of you! It looks like you are doing awesome. Peace and love, Melissa.

  8. alyssia lazin says:

    Hi Ave,
    I was in touch in April, as you can see below. Just hoping that my work as an art photographer could enhance your projects.
    Look forward to hearing from you,
    Alyssia Lazin

  9. Tom Nemitz says:

    Hi Ave
    I am an architect in Michigan that has extensive renovation experience but limited hospitality experience.
    We have a boutique hotel project in a former psychiatric hospital and need to team with a hotel designer.
    Any suggestions?
    Love the Kimpton approach, but at a loss for where to turn.

  10. Pam Branch says:


    I just took my students from the interior design program at our college to The Kimpton Cardinal in Winston-Salem, NC. Anna gave us a lovely tour, but was interested in finding out if you could give us an idea of your design process.

    We are so proud to have the Cardinal, and in such a sweet iconic building. Thanks for delivering such a beautiful project!

    All the best,
    Pam Branch

  11. Mo says:

    You are so inspiring Ave! You’re driven, creative and beautiful (inside and out). Kimpton is so lucky to have you on their team and those of us who know you as a friend are blessed.

  12. Andrew Nunez says:

    Hello Ava,
    My name is Andrew Nunez, and I am the director of Sales and Commercial Projects for ETHOS CONTEMPORARY ART.
    ETHOS CONTEMPORARY ART works with over 30 artists ranging from contemporary paintings, sculptures, glass, photography and site specific installations
    Our most recent projects are Lido House- RD Olson and Irvine Marriott RD Olson.
    We are looking to make to make a bigger presence in the hotel/commercial industry and would love the opportunity to meet and possibly get our foot in the door with your upcoming projects.

    Sincerely, Andrew Nunez

    Director of Sales and Commercial Projects, Ethos Contemporary Art
    Andrew Nunez D. 603 667 1205
    Georgeana Ireland I 503 703 2387
    Ethos Contemporary Art 949 791 8917
    Ethos Contemporary Art
    3405 Newport Blvd
    Newport Beach, CA 92663
    (across from the Lido House Hotel